Seattle Sounders Finding Consistency in Midfield

courtesy of SoundersFC.com

courtesy of SoundersFC.com

It took them a while but the Seattle Sounders are starting to find consistency in their midfield. In their first few games on the year, Seattle was constantly turning the ball over and putting pressure directly on the backline.

In five of their last six matches, the Sounders have used a midfield consisting of Marco Pappa and Lamar Neagle flanking the central pair of Osvaldo Alonso and Gonzalo Pineda. This pairing has seemed to work well for Seattle as they have gone 4-1-0 (win-loss-tie) in those five matches.

“That is very important. When you’re used to playing with someone, each game is better,” Pineda said. “You have more confidence between each guy and better communication, and that helps a lot.”

Versatile player Brad Evans will also most likely see some time in the midfield after he did not make the 23-man roster for Jurgen Klinsmann and the US Men’s National Team.

Alonso has been considered among the best defensive midfielders in the league since coming to Seattle prior to the 2009 MLS season. With the addition of Pineda, Alonso has been able to get more involved with the attack. Alonso has been one of the better passers in the league but the midfield gets better in that department with Pineda, who has four assists so far this year.

“Ozzie and him get along very well on and off the field, so that obviously has an impact. Gonzo is a playmaker coming out of that midfield position and he’s gotten Ozzie involved a little bit more offensively at times when he’s sat in and let Ozzie go,” Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said. “So right now, their understanding has been very good and their combination play off of each other has been very good.”

Pappa is a good addition to the midfield with his accurate passing and long ranging shooting ability. On the opposite side you have Neagle who has been creating opportunities with his speed and scoring goals when the opportunity presents itself.

“Pappa has come back in on the left side. I think it took him a little bit to understand fitness-wise what we wanted from him defensively, but from a standpoint of possession, he’s helped us maintain that,” Schmid said. “With Neagle, there’s been a good balance because Neagle’s more of an out-and-out attacking guy. So there’s been a good balance in what we have on the flanks.”

Most likely the most important attribute they all have is the fact that they cover for each other when someone is out of position.

“I think that we try to do good work. The first thing is the defensive part. We’re always talking and try not to give too many spaces behind us,” Pineda said. “Pappa is a more offensive guy, but he’s doing a good job with the defensive part. Sometimes Ozzie and I can do both and we can cover for each other.”

The midfield will be one of the most important parts of each game as Clint Dempsey and DeAndre Yedlin are away at the 2014 World Cup. If Seattle wants to stay atop of the Supporters Shield race it will be imperative for them to continue their good play.

Chris Blakely writes for Stoppage Time Soccer. You can follow him on Twitter @TheRealCBlakely.


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