It's been a week since the Sounders' first season came dripping to a halt with an 0-1 loss to Houston. (It was a shitty game on both sides by all accounts. The loss? Easy: The pitch-raged patches of grass filled in with sand, just fine for college and high school throwball, but horrible for soccer. It's an embarrassment that professionals play on fields like that, almost as embarrassing as playoff games that fetch a mere 7,000 attendees (New England) or even 11,000 (Real Salt Lake). But I digress...)
My great season-end conclusion: We not only have a great team, but the Sounders have begun to finally bring the World's Game to America. Greg Nickels probably didn't have this in mind when he wanted to transform Seattle into a "world class city," but the Sounders have all the makings to be the Manchester of MLS. The Bayern Munich of America. The AC Milan of the USA.
Yup, you heard me. The Sounders have become the flagship of the MLS.
Now, all we have to do is win more trophies.
The Sounders can start that with a few minor adjustments.
1) Get another scorer! Together Fredy Montero and Nate Jaqua netted 21 of the team's 38 goals; no one else had more than four, and there was that bazillion-week scoreless home game stretch. Let's not repeat that again, ok guys?
2) Be a little more consistent. Brad Evans had a phenomenal game against Dallas, too bad he was absent for the rest of the season. Both Jaqua and Montero wrestled with presence, taking several weeks off respectively. Ljungberg let his emotions get the best of him too often.
3) Don't let the home crowd rally the opponents more than you. During that scoreless stretch, weaker teams were pumped by the ever growing crowds, leaving Qwest with draws and wins. Maybe they were psyched as professional soccer players to finally play in front of respectable crowds, but it's embarrassing to the say the least. The crowd is there to intimidate them, not you. Work on that, will you?
The MLS needs to make some changes as well. They'll be meeting in the following weeks to discuss some improvements. They could start with better refs. (I hate complaining about the officiating), but leg one of Sounders-Houston was attrocious. Maybe it will cause a shake-up.
Other items deserving scrutiny are the team roster limit (currently at 24 players), the pay scale, and the Designated Player rule, and most importantly, is the busy summer schedule. The Sounders will be playing in the CONCACAF Champions League, which leads to a massively packed schedule. The MLS needs to loosen up the summer schedule in regards of CL, Open Cup, and international exhibition games.
Then it's Thanksgiving, and then the holidays and New Years and BAM! Before you know it, we start all over again March 24th.