One of the things that has stood out to me recently — and many others, I’m sure — is Sounders FC’s lack of breakaway speed. The indefinite loss of two swift attackers, Steve Zakuani and O’Brian White, has significantly changed how Seattle has to break down defenses.
With that in mind I had a quick chat with technical director Chris Henderson about the issue after training Thursday.
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(Does it feel like there’s more emphasis on the summer window this year since the team has suffered some unfortunate losses and also has money to spend?) “I think last year we made some moves and they helped us push through. For me it doesn’t change. I feel like we’ve all been looking consistently and it doesn’t feel like there’s more pressure to find a player. We’re actively looking just like we have been all the way through — looking at tournaments, looking at leagues, looking at individual players. So it’s ongoing.”
(How much would you say speed is something you’re specifically looking to acquire?) “I think you look at the whole package of the player. Speed is always a plus. I think you look at technical ability, trying to find a guy who fits in with how we play, who fits in with our personnel, but yeah, speed is always a plus.”
(How much has the loss of pace affected the team?) “It’s different because when we lose Zakuani, he’s a clear-out midfielder. So with the wingers we have we adjusted our formation a little bit and the way we play. It changes a little bit of the way we look as a team. I was a fast player, so I know whenever you have speed, it’s another weapon, another tactic you can use to stretch defenses. If you don’t have that kind of speed you have to be really good with the ball.”
(Is that part of went behind switching the midfield shape and tucking in the outside midfielders? To compensate for less speed?) “For me with formations, once you get out and play, guys will interchange. I think the hardest teams to play against are those with guys that interchange positions and a guy is popping up in a place you don’t expect him. I think formations are sometimes just how you begin the game then smart players adjust to the game and the demands of the game. We try to find players who can think the game, and that’s really important. I think if you’re good with the ball, you have guys that can think and play and move and show up wherever they need to show up to be successful.”
(How much can you base your search on current injuries? It seems like you’re in need of attacking help, but a couple guys should be back and healthy before the transfer window comes around…) “You can’t really base it on injuries because there could be different injuries a month from now. You got to go out and find the best player that’s going to fit for our team. It’s disappointing to have this amount of injuries. A couple of them are strange ones, with a broken leg and a blood clot. The other ones we have to evaluate what it is. If it’s a muscle strain, was he training too hard? We have some guys that are close to coming back for us and that’s really going to help our team.”