Sports Out West

Seattle Sounders FC 2013 review: A tale of two seasons

Sounders team photo prior to the Colorado match Photo: Jane Gershovic

The noted English writer Charles Dickens captured the essence of the Seattle Sounders FC’s season in the opening paragraph of his literary classic A Tale of Two Cities.  Using Dickens’ phrases, let’s take a look at how the year played out for the Rave Green. 

It was the best of times…

On September 23rd, the Sounders defeated Real Salt Lake 2-0 to win their fifth match in a row before a raucous home crowd of 55,107.  The victory elevated Seattle to take the Supporters Shield lead over Real Salt Lake and the New York Red Bulls by one point with two games in hand. 

It was the worst of times…

Seattle ended the regular season with three draws and five losses to finish fourth in the Western Conference standings.  They moved on to win the one-game knockout round 2-0 against the Colorado Rapids.  In their next playoff matchup against the Portland Timbers, the Sounders were eliminated when they lost 5-3 in the two-game total goals series.

 

Eddie Johnson's reaction after scoring a goal against Colorado

Eddie Johnson’s reaction after scoring a goal against Colorado

It was the age of wisdom

Forward Obafemi Martins signed with the Sounders in March.  He recorded  eight goals and four assists.  In 2012, Seattle sent forwards Lamar Neagle and Mike Fucito to Montreal in exchange for Eddie Johnson.  Neagle returned to the Sounders in 2013 and matched Martins’ goal and assist totals.

It was the age of foolishness…

Seattle acquired midfielder Shalrie Joseph as a designated player.  He relinquished the DP slot once Dempsey arrived.  Joseph was hurt most of the year.  He scored one goal and one assist in eleven games.

“We would have liked to see Shalrie to have been able to give us more and stay healthy,” general manager and co-owner Adrian Hanauer said during his season ending media conference call.  “Again, that’s on me to go back and think through what I could have done differently throughout the year.”

 

Michael Gspurning cheering on his teammates (Photo: Jane Gershovich)

Michael Gspurning cheering on his teammates (Photo: Jane Gershovich)

It was the epoch of belief…

During the August and September five-match winning streak, goalkeeper Michael Gspurning allowed one goal and recorded four shutouts, or ten for the season.

It was the epoch of incredulity…

In the first two October MLS matchups, Gspurning gave up nine goals in the losses to Colorado (5-1) and Vancouver (4-1).  Marcus Hahnemann replaced Gspurning in the next two games.  He returned to the starting rotation in the last game of the season and rest of the playoffs. 

 

Clint Dempsey attempting to jump over Colorado keeper Clint Irwin

Clint Dempsey attempting to jump over Colorado keeper Clint Irwin

It was the season of Light…

The Sounders announced Dempsey’s signing in mid-August before 65,000 fans, making him the league’s highest paid player.

It was the season of Darkness…

Dempsey tallied one one goal and one assist in all competitions.

It was the spring of hope…

After a successful return last year from his 2011 leg fracture, midfielder/winger Steve Zakuani was ready to make an impact in 2013 and once again showcase his flashy moves and speed.

It was the winter of despair…

Zakuani underwent hernia surgery in late June.  He recorded one assist in eight games.

We had everything before us…

Martins, Dempsey, Johnson, Neagle, Zakuani, Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Mauro Rosales, Gspurning: the MLS Cup appeared to be within Seattle’s grasp.

We had nothing before us…

Owners Hanauer and Joe Roth “vote of confidence” made head coach Sigi Schmid’s 2014 coaching status tenuous at best.  Rumors are rampant that Seattle is shopping leading scorer Johnson to other MLS teams.  Dempsey re-injured his calf in preparation for a friendly against Scotland on November 14. 

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John Zielonka

John Zielonka has covered the Seattle Sounders FC, Seattle Seahawks and University of Washington men's basketball and football. He's written for Yahoo! Sports, 710 ESPN Seattle, Goal.com and is a member of the North American Soccer Reporters.