The 2009 season in review - 8th place

(this is the first of a 3 part series previewing the Sounders FC season by reviewing it. confused? great. read on.)

Well, I guess everybody told us so.

Yes, the memorable 2009 season has come to a close for the Sounders FC, and it ends with us settled comfortably in last place, no team within six points of us. Now to be sure, in the stands, in the city, it was quite an experience. The full stadium for the opening day was an indicator of what was to come, as all season long we had sold-out or mostly sold-out games.

Unfortunately, the play on the pitch was an indicator as well. The first 2-0 loss, to the Red Bulls at home, wasn't so bad, with the festive atmosphere in the air. On opening day the result was secondary. But the 3-0 loss to Real Salt Lake the next week was a little tiresome. And then the 2-1 loss at Toronto. Hell, we didn't even get a win in league play until May. Far from the surprise contender that the Sounders aspired to be, they were the anchor of the west - and them some. When we lost to San Jose at home, we should have known things weren't going to get a whole lot better. Which they didn't.

The reasons were numerous. The backline was, as predicted, atrocious. I'm a little surprised Kasey Keller never got a sore back from bending over to pick so many balls out of the back of his net. It took a long time for the defense to gel, and when they did, the on-field play had only a minor increase, because the talent just wasn't there. Marshall was constantly beaten, Sturgis was injured, Ianni and Wahl were outclassed, Hurtado struggled to adapt to the physical nature of MLS. But it wasn't just the defense that struggled. With Ljungberg, the supposed superstar, injured seemingly half the season, nonchalantly sitting on the bench eating swedish fish or whatever it is that Swedes eat, the attack wasn't as good as predicted. Evans couldn't do it all on his own, nor could Jaqua. And the callups from the USL proved that there was in fact a large gulf in talent between the two leagues.

But the on-field play wasn't the only negative to come out what can only be described as a nightmare of a season. The justification of all the naysayers, the ones who said we'd be just like every other expansion, was painful. Because we *were* just like every expansion team. The fans in Portland must be dancing with glee while they play catch with their USL trophy. The electric mood in Portland, what with their incoming franchise in MLS and all, is in direct contrast to that of Seattle. The Sounders are just another sports team now. The glamour is gone. Last week I saw a Freddy Ljungberg kit show up on the rack at Value Village, right next to the Supersonics Patrick Ewing jersey. And as I watched, someone bought the Ewing. That hurt me.

All in all, I suppose I can't blame the one bright spot on the pitch, Fredy Montero, for skipping town in July to play in Spain's La Liga. He only had to play out half the season in front of what were mostly passionate, vocal crowds, even at the last game against Dallas. Which, fittingly, was a loss.

I suppose we can't really complain too much. After all, it was the inaugural season. And we did get to witness Chelsea FC beat down the Sounders - our Sounders - in magnificent fashion. We cheered our boys on even when the scoreline was 3-0, 4-0, 5-0. Because they were ours. And dammit, that's the most important thing I can come up with in terms of positivity. All those games where the team in green got manhandled, that was our team in green. The level of play wasn't the highest, to be sure, but it was our team. Seattle's team. And that's what matters.

Even though MLS Cup is next week, and will display the two best teams in MLS going at it, watching the New York Red Bulls take on the LA Galaxy in Qwest Field just won't be the same.

So here's to you, 2009. You sucked. Let's win more next year.


tyjorg said...

Ewing played for Seattle, did I miss something? ;)

Cornchops said...

Nice. But I think I'm looking forward to Parts 2 and 3 more. Depressing!

Anonymous said...

Wow, brutal!

I realise you are doing this in a series of worst to best case scenarios, but surely it won't be quite this bad?

The part about Ljundberg, however, hmmm, that sounds abit too close to the truth!