Seattle vs. Tottenham: 6 Things We Learned from Spurs' First Pre-Season Friendly
Tottenham began their pre-season with an entertaining 3-3 draw against Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.
Lewis Holtby opened the scoring with a fine header from Harry Kane's cross before Seattle equalised from the penalty spot, Michael Dawson having been harshly ruled to have committed a foul at a corner.
The Sounders took the lead right after half-time through Osvaldo Alonso, who scored a stunning goal from some distance that Brad Friedel could do little to stop.
Roberto Soldado, entering as a second-half substitute, then won and scored a penalty to level the match at 2-2 before Tristan Bowen once again gave Seattle the lead.
Iago Falque made it 3-3 with yet another penalty in the 78th minute.
Here are six things we learned from Tottenham's first friendly of the pre-season.
Pochettino Has Already Made an Impact
Tottenham ended last season with a string of listless performances devoid of any kind of drive and evidently without a plan.
Mauricio Pochettino's Southampton side always looked hungry and like they knew what they were doing.
Spurs' performance against Seattle suggests that Pochettino has already been able to convey to his new players some of that drive and focus.
Despite the heat in Seattle, Tottenham pressed very high and hard for much of the first half. It resulted in several balls won in dangerous positions, a Pochettino trademark. Andros Townsend was almost the beneficiary of this concerted effort when he seized on a Seattle error to break away on goal. He wasn't able to score but it was perhaps a sign of things to come.
As the match meandered to a draw in the second half, it was less recognisable as a Pochettino performance but overall it was a vast improvement on last season's offering.
Harry Kane Is Poised for a Big Season
Harry Kane seems to have been around for a long time but he remains a week shy of his 21st birthday. The young striker scored his first Tottenham goal in 2011 against Shamrock Rovers, per BBC Sport.
Last season, when Kane scored three goals in three matches in the Premier League, it seemed that his time may finally have come. His performance against Seattle underscored his potential.
Kane set up Lewis Holtby for the first goal with a delightful cross that split the Seattle defence, allowing Holtby to sneak through and head in the opener. This kind of creative play has been Kane's trademark at youth and academy level but he stepped up impressively in a more senior environment against Seattle.
Knowing Mauricio Pochettino's willingness to trust youth, Kane is perfectly positioned to play a major role for Spurs this season. He may not start ahead of the likes of Roberto Soldado and Emmanuel Adebayor, but he is ready to take his chance.
Full-Backs Remain a Problem
Spurs started the match with Kyle Naughton and Danny Rose at full-back. It could be argued that neither is likely to be first choice next season but based on their performances, you'd hope not.
With Kyle Walker not risked on the artificial pitch and the arrival of Swansea's Ben Davies seemingly imminent, according to the Press Association (h/t The Observer), Naughton and Rose needed to press their claims against Seattle.
Danny Rose demonstrated the same headless chicken impression that has failed to delight Spurs fans for the past 12 months. Reckless and impetuous in defence and, as he showed again in Seattle, seemingly incapable of crossing a football, Rose is Spurs' biggest weakness when on the pitch.
Beyond the criticisms, it was interesting to note the role that the full-backs were asked to play in Pochettino's system. Both very high up the pitch and offering themselves as a passing option, they provided the width as the midfield three compressed. This is typical of Pochettino's Southampton and suggests that he is attempting to bring the same framework to Spurs.
Kyle Walker is the perfect full-back for this system and will relish the flexibility that it offers him when he does finally return from injury.
Lewis Holtby Continues to Divide Opinion
Lewis Holtby has divided the opinions of Spurs fans since joining from Schalke in 2013. Many have praised his attitude and tireless running but others are concerned by a supposed lack of technical quality and his irresponsibility on the pitch.
Holtby showed his strong spatial awareness to open the scoring against Seattle. As Harry Kane, the central striker, drifted wide with the ball, midfielder Holtby attacked the space and was rewarded with a lovely cross that he headed in to give Spurs the lead. In that move, he demonstrated the quality that has earned him three Germany caps and made him captain of the German under-21s.
For the remainder of his hour on the pitch, though, Holtby struggled to impose himself. He evidently understood the system that Pochettino was trying to play and knew his role in it. He was aware of where he was supposed to be and, at this stage of the season, that is probably good enough.
However, he did lose the ball numerous times and make bad decisions at some key moments. He remains difficult to classify but is certainly a good fit in Pochettino's system. That alone should be enough to keep him in the first-team squad for now.
Soldado Remains Part of Pochettino's Plans
Roberto Soldado began yesterday's match on the bench with many of Tottenham's younger players and was one of the few senior players to finish the second half on the pitch.
In his 45 minutes, Soldado scored a penalty which he won himself and was involved in the neat link-up play that has become something of a speciality. He and Erik Lamela appear to have a budding understanding and that can only be a good thing with the new Premier League season looming.
Spurs Have Great Team Spirit
When Erik Lamela was brought down by an injudicious Seattle tackle in the second half, the response from Spurs players was exactly what fans would like to see. His teammates came rushing to his defence and, although no punches were thrown, a heated confrontation unfolded with Younes Kaboul chief among the Spurs contingent.
Kaboul, despite his problems with fitness and form, remains a leader and a positive influence on the team. The reaction from the Spurs players suggests a real sense of camaraderie.