Seattle Sounders Must Adapt Or Die

The 2016 Seattle Sounders are a few eggs short of a dozen and one Oba short of the playoffs. This is the least impressive iteration of the Sounders in the modern era. They haven’t been this bad since they played at Memorial Stadium, where it rained sideways and the cold soaked you through to the bone. Ask Zach Scott, he’ll tell you.

After 20 regular season games, the Sounders have exactly 20 points. That’s good for…ninth place.

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Ninth place is not a position the Sounders are used to being in in the Western Conference.

Since the Sounders joined MLS in 2009, the club has been the club in the league. Record home crowds, a rabid fanbase, and sustained excellence in league play.

First it was the Freddies (Freddie Ljungberg and Fredy Montero) that carried the team.

Fredy 2 (2009-2014) lasted longer than Freddie 1 (2009-2010); Eddie Johnson (2012-2013) arrived after Freddie Ljungberg left but before Fredy Montero did.

Eddie Johnson was good until all that bleach soaked into his brain and made him a little crazy.

Things were all good under the Freddies, then when it was Fredy and Eddie, things were also gravy.

Then Eddie Johnson went crazy, Clint Dempsey (2013-present) arrived, Fredy Montero went to Portugal, and Obafemi Martins (2013-2015) landed in a Nigerian spaceship.

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With Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey up top, the Sounders had the most potent 1-2 punch in the league. Oba was the most dynamic player in MLS.

In 72 games with the Sounders, Oba scored 40 goals and had 23 assists making him by far the most productive Sounder ever. For context, Fredy Montero had 47 goals and 34 assists in 119 games.

Martins’ time with the Sounders came to an abrupt end, courtesy of the burgeoning Chinese Super League; a place where facts don’t matter and money falls out of the sky.

Just days before the 2016 season was to get underway, Seattle was dealt a gut punch: Obafemi Martins is leaving, effective immediately; bound for China, where Shanghai Shenhua will more than double the $3 million the Sounders were paying him.

Oba’s departure didn’t just leave a void, it left a crater.

Maybe it was the backflips, or the Nigerian mystique, but I didn’t realize just how valuable Oba was to the Sounders ’til he was gone. He made everyone around him better while still being the best player on the field. He could turn a half chance into a goal faster than you can say “Supereagle”.

Sounders defenders had the luxury of a player who could chase down any ball they mortared over the top. Clint Dempsey had a strike partner who could match every stride, trick, and flick.

When Oba left, the whole house of cards came crashing down.

I thought the Sounders were gonna go through some growing pains without Oba, but I was wrong – their growth has been stunted entirely.

With their current lineup, Seattle will not make the playoffs. Not a snowball’s chance in hell. The exit of Obafemi Martins has brought the franchise to its knees.

The franchise’s lone remaining star, Clint Dempsey, needs to be surrounded by quality players to have success. Without help, he’s more bumblebee than a wasp.

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Jordan Morris is promising, but he and Clint can’t do it on their own.

By my estimation Seattle has only handful of good players: Clint Dempsey, Jordan Morris, Osvaldo Alonso, Chad Marshall, Roman Torres (if he’s still alive), Stephan Frei, Cristian Roldan, and Andreas Ivanschitz. Everyone else is expendable, or worse, part of the problem.

Without one or two immediate additions, the Sounders are sunk and the season is lost. Even if they sign Lionel fucking Messi, they’ve still got a big hole to climb out of.

A true number 10 is what the Sounders need most.

The Sounders lack the capacity to create dynamic chances. There’s no one who can take the ball and just make something happen out of thin air. Dempsey can, but when he has to come back behind midfield to get the ball, there’s no one for him to pass to and it’s all for naught.

They need a player who doesn’t make me nervous when the ball is at his feet. Someone who can put Demsey and Morris in position to score. Someone with vision and poise. Literally anyone who isn’t dogshit.

Ideally, the Sounders would also pick up another forward.

Nelson Valdez has to be the worst Designated Player in the league. In 521 minutes this year, he’s scored exactly zero goals and delivered zero assists, yet he is taking up one of three Designated Player slots.

He’s worse than Roman Torres, who doesn’t even play. I’m sure Nelson is a great guy, but the Sounders are paying $1.2 million for a player who is literally useless on the field.

A third dangerous forward would allow Dempsey and Morris more room to cook. The Sounders could get creative with their lineups and platoon players as needed.

The Secondary Transfer Window opened on the 4th of July and will remain open until August 3rd. The Sounders have Oba’s $3 million sitting in an account somewhere, collecting dust.

The franchise has failed to deliver a title since 2009, but every year has been a success in one way or another.

Unless drastic action is taken, this season will be a complete failure for the Sounders – a dangerous precedent to set.

Seattle Sounders: spend that fucking Oba money and get at least 2 good players to class up that shit sandwich you’ve been putting out on the field or I swear to God I’ll start rooting for the Timbers.