Lack of scoring still haunts Sounders, and it’s not doing much for their fans either


The attendance figure of 30,067 was underwhelming for a home opener. 

Maybe it had something to do with the sub-40-degree weather. Maybe it had something to do with the not-to-storied opponent. Or maybe people just want to see goals. 

The 0-0 score line for the game between the Sounders and Austin FC was reminiscent of a theme carrying over from last season. Seattle was a formidable opponent throughout much of 2023 but struggled mightily when it came to putting it through the net. 

Yes, the Sounders finished second in the Western Conference — just three points behind St. Louis — but were held to 41 goals. Only two of the 14 teams in the West scored fewer.

The lack of offense not only doomed the club in the conference semifinals — where Seattle lost 1-0 to LAFC — but stole from the team’s entertainment value. 

Defense, as they say, wins championships, but it’s hardly a ticket office’s best friend. So as dominant as the Sounders were on “D” Saturday night — and as much as they gave themselves quality opportunities — the offensive issues appear to remain. 

Is there hope for a scoring surge in the not-so-distant future? Sure. But for now, this has been unsatisfying.

It’s not as if Saturday’s game was just a 98-minute, 45-second snooze. The Sounders (0-1-1) had 23 shots to Austin’s three and an array of good looks. Perhaps the game’s MVP was Austin goalkeeper Brad Stuver, who tallied nine blocked shots. 

The prowess of designated player Pedro de la Vega — the Argentine midfielder who came to Seattle via a $7.5 million transfer fee — was on display as well. Picturesque pass after picturesque pass gave the impression that this team could soon wake from its offensive slumber. 

But despite the chances he and his teammates provided throughout the game, the result still drew boos from the fans by game’s end. Not booming boos, but noticeable. 

They were teased throughout the evening. Nohou had a shot saved from just outside the box in the 19th minute. Jackson Regan overflew the post two minutes later. Stuver saved an attempt from Leo Chu in the 35th minute, one from Jordan Morris in the 50th, one from Joshua Atencio in the 77th and, well, you get the idea. 

It’s unknown just how formidable a foe Austin is. The club finished 12th in the Western Conference standings last year and lost the only other game it has played this season. 

But the Sounders, who fell to LAFC 2-1 in their season opener, looked like the superior team. There’s just nothing to show for it. 

You’re not going to hear panic in the team’s voices when discussing the scoring dearth. These are professionals who understand the ebb and flow of sport, and coach Brian Schmetzer has two MLS Cups on his résumé. They know an outing such as Saturday’s could have yielded significantly more scoring if the execution was more precise. 

And, there are notable injuries on this squad. Joao Paulo was out, Albert Rusnak and Yeimar, too. And though it didn’t matter Saturday, Seattle was playing sans starting goalkeeper Stefan Frei.

Additionally, attacker Raul Ruidiaz — who scored 11 goals in 18 games last year — came off the bench after dealing with a rib injury. There seemed to be moments in which he was frustrated for not getting the ball, but Schmetzer chalked that up to competitiveness and said the frustration was temporary. 

Is there a tactical shift that needs to be made? 

“We worked on a lot of that stuff in preseason, tactical tweaks to what we started last year. We’re going to keep at it. I think it’s too early, it’s two games. This was certainly a better game than LAFC,” Schmetzer said. “Personnel is going to dictate whether there are little tweaks. … We’ll look at it.” 

Again, this is a team that finished second in its conference last season. It’s a team that just posted a defensive shutout. It’s a team that had 20 more shots than its opponent, and a tremendous new player in de la Vega.

But you need goals to win long-term. And you need them even more to put the fans in the seats.

The Sounders aren’t providing them. Haven’t for a while.


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