Christ but we made heavy weather of that in the end didn't we? And pretty much flipped my MOTM vote back to Pontius. I mean, you know he'll be the favorite with his Keller-assisted hattrick, but until we shipped those two late ones, I was having trouble deciding between James for some terrific interceptions and 1-on-1 defending, Jakovic for keeping things calm at the back and winning the noggin war, or Perkins for finally looking like the keeper we traded away too much for. In the end, I suppose a result is a result, particularly for a side in desperate need of a boost heading into the short World Cup break.
Talking points? We'll keep it short owing to the late hour...
* Fullback Panic Attack. Whenever Seattle ran at us in the wide areas, our fullbacks were in all kinds of trouble, though better doubling up in the second half (and Sigi pulling Zakuani) helped alleviate the pain a little. Even with the ball at their feet you wondered how the fullbacks would manage to lose possession leading to a Seattle chance. Of course, I suppose having to defend a dude whose head looks like a fancily-sculpted bit of topiary from a woman's private areas would probably panic the best of them, right? Seriously, Freddie? Is Ljungberg Swedish for shrubbery?
* The Pontius Lesson. So I'll take my lumps here. I was pretty convinced (and I wasn't the only one) that Pontius was a forward. Turns out he's at his best when he's running at defenders from deeper areas. Even if he got a deflection on the first and Keller made a mess of the second, the work to get into shooting positions (there was a third that deflected over for a counter) demonstrated some wicked cutback-ery and left Sounders jocks strewn willy nilly about the plastic pitch.
* Faster Not Always Better. Given how much I harped on our glacial pace of play last year, you'd think I'd be happy that we're playing a quicker brand of ball. And I am, to a certain extent. The problem is that sometimes we seem to be playing quick one-touch stuff just for the sake of playing quickly. There were a number of first time touches that removed the ball from dangerous areas (oh, we're just outside the 18, let's boot it back diagonally to the half-way stripe!) or put our defenders on their heels (here you go, Devon; show me some of that fancy tripping over your own feet and back-passing).
* Emilio is a bucket-load of bad touches slathered with a slimy coating of ineffectual paste. Ugh. I wonder why we didn't go to Cristman earlier in the second half when we were resorting to "boot it over yonder"-ball?
* Our crossing is 800 tons of crap. Well, save for the Phoenix's set pieces...
* That sound? Was that Andy Najar crashing back to earth? I'm pretty sure he'll recover.
I'm not going to pretend that I'm not delighted with the result. It's just that the late Seattle rally really tossed a bucket of cold water all over my enthusiasm. Sure, we banged in 3 on the road. But almost letting it slip away in the last five minutes with a 3 goal cushion? That would have made this train wreck of a season complete, huh? But what are we to think now that we survived?
United have crawled off the foot of the table and staggered to within shouting distance of the playoff spots. Should we entertain some hope that maybe there's something to salvage here? At about the 84 minute mark, I might have granted you that. It wasn't pretty, but a 3-0 result on the road in front of a packed house would have been some kind of spear-planting. Not classy, but gutsy and determined. Those two late goals though—they do make you think, make you wonder.
So although I'm a bit conflicted about what lies around the corner, for now it's a well-earned...