Sounders Hope To Catch Goal Fever

Bill HareCorrespondent IMay 14, 2010

BASEL, SWITZERLAND - OCTOBER 17:  Blaise NKufo of Switzerland in action during the International Friendly match between Switzerland and United States at the St. Jakob Park stadium on October 17, 2007 in Basel, Switzerland.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

There is one fever that Seattle Sounders Coach Sigi Schmid would like his team to catch.  That would be goal fever.

The more contagious the better as far as the Sounders coach and fan base are concerned and for good reason.  While staying basically in matches all season the inability to provide scoring punch at the right time has proven costly.

Last Saturday the team ran into a strong head wind in the form of a tough Los Angeles Galaxy.  When the final whistle sounded Seattle had been blanked 4-0.

Edson Buddle had come into that contest as the league’s leading scorer but the afternoon belonged to Landon Donovan, who engineered a quick strike capability for three assists to different scorers and then scored the culminating goal, his first of the season, with none other than dynamic scoring machine Buddle delivering the assist.

What was so impressive before a Sounders record setting home crowd was the quick strike capability of the Galaxy.  There was no long prelude of passes and jockeying into place.

Instead the second half scores following a 1-0 halftime count came so swiftly that one moment the game was close, while seemingly the next it had been decisively decided.

Schmid as well as other soccer coaches in the world community are looking closely at Chelsea FC, the English Premier League champs.  Chelsea just ended a three year Manchester United title run.

Under first year Italian manager Carlo Ancelotti the Chelsea quick strike capability resulted in a record setting 103 goals.  This was the first time since Tottenham Hotspur in 1963 that any English team has passed the century mark in a season.

It was with the thought of creating a quicker attacking, more prolific scoring team that Schmid went to a 4-3-3 deployment for the Columbus Crew meeting.

Veteran midfielder Freddie Ljungberg, who achieved distinction in a career with Arsenal in the English Premier League, was positioned in the middle with the thought of him functioning in the manner that Landon Donovan has for the Galaxy.

After last Saturday’s match reached the 58 minute mark Schmid replaced Fredy Montero with recently signed 18-year-old Colombia forward Miguel Montano.  The idea in shaking up the lineup was to find a scoring formula.

In the process of replacing Montero at a point the player felt was that early in the match, he related feeling saddened over the move, taking it as  criticism over inability to perform.

Such is the case when a team encounters difficulty and new answers are sought.  Shakeups occur and with them disappointment and sometimes hard feelings.

Another future card that Schmid will be able to shortly play is putting Blaise Nkufo into the lineup.  Nkufo signed with the Sounders March 4.  He was in Seattle on Tuesday to meet the media and will be available to the Sounders in July following FIFA World Cup competition in South Africa.

Nkfuo completed a seven year run with FC Twente on a high note.  He helped secure a Dutch Eredivisie Trophy for the first time in Twente’s history.

Not since 1926 had the city of Enschede won a domestic title as Twente finished with 27 wins with only two losses and five draws in 34 matches.

Nkfuo is Twente’s all-time scoring leader with 114 goals in the Eredeivisie, including 12 this season.

It will be interesting to see how Nkfuo fits into the Sounders strategy.  With his experience and scoring punch he would appear to be a solid complement to experienced assist master Ljungberg.