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What happened? Revisiting recent articles

Launched on May 23 amidst a rocky stretch of games, Spicy Teriyaki blog was born out of our banter about the season, its prospects, and the team's success. Since then, the team has played nine games, and we've churned out 22 articles!

This blog was born out of a need to externalize our thoughts, and we're thrilled to have enjoyed every moment of it. We are even more elated to see others joining our discussion. A heartfelt thank you to all our readers! Our mission is to strike a balance in our analysis, avoiding hyper-criticism or blind admiration, and instead, we aim to present an objective view of our observations and feelings. We invite you to contribute to this vibrant discussion.

In this post, I will revisit some of the larger points of what we've discussed in our last 22 articles.

We've talked about:

- Post game commentaries

In the article about Leo Chu, I highlighted his potential for future success, based on his attempts to outmaneuver defenders one-on-one via dribbling. At the time he had 308 touches with 26 take-ons.

Since then he has had 45 in 344 touches. He's causing even more chaos which may be contributing to his improved playing time, results, and confidence.

To support that his production stats have continued to be impressive and he's now 2nd in the league in assists per 90 minutes.

Leo  Chu Seattle Sounders xAG stats

In searching for the plan for free kicks we explored how often they score and who was taking them. It has been exciting to see them experimenting with new ideas and even a two set piece goal game with Lodeiro to Ragen to Chu goals.

We discussed how the Sounders are blessed with a strong core of players and how there has got to be a better tactical setup than the current 4-2-3-1 being used to bring out the best in these players. At the moment it doesn't seem to be stable in the middle leading to problems going forward and defending. What we saw was a switch to overloading and putting Lodeiro on the right wing but have him overload the left side which we covered in a post.

Despite leading in xG, the Sounders had a concerning xG difference of -6.8. As we argued, high xG doesn't necessarily translate into success since not all chances are equal - it matters who takes them. This has proven accurate as their xG ranking slipped to 3rd and xG difference rose to -8.7.

When we now take a look at the teams near them on the all time list we can see that the xG difference of the Sounders is quite common and those other teams have missed the playoffs or lost in early rounds:

Seattle Sounders xG Rank

It's going to be important for the Sounders to create more valuable xG the rest of the way. More Ruidiaz shots and less Heber/Rusnak shots.

Our biggest series has been in regards to the ripple effects of the 2021 coaching changes.

Losing Djimi Traore and Gonzalo Pineda and adding Freddy Juarez, Andy Rose, and Albert Rusnak.

The theory posed was that despite the Champions League trophy, the Sounders performances have been an enigma. Their tactics have lacked consistency, resulting in a run of unspectacular victories. Furthermore, the teams they defeated in the Champions League were far from the cream of the crop at the time. Since the start of the series, we've continued to see some lackluster performances.

We posed that Cristian Roldan being displaced by Albert Rusnak might be a sunk cost as his weaknesses on the field have been covered up by the performances of Joao Paulo, Nico Lodiero, and Leo Chu and the statistics support it.

We checked in on Pineda because his Atlanta team was the highest goal scoring team in the league. 9 games later and his Atlanta team even with an injury to their best scorer is 2nd in goals scored, 1 behind Columbus and 13 ahead of Seattle continuing to support the theory that the Sounders have been unable to replace their offensive mastermind.

The Sounders have 11 games left including a meeting with Atlanta and a Leagues Cup in the between. They sit 7 points clear of the playoff line and still with lots to prove.

I'd like to wrap this up with some positives.

The defense has played tremendously.

Leo Chu, Jackson Ragen, and Cody Baker have continued to prove themselves as MLS starting caliber players with very few mistakes.

Raul Ruidiaz and Cristian Roldan are healthy again.

Leagues Cup should provide some fun mid-season entertainment and some more hardware for the trophy cabinet.

The Sounders are only 3 points out of first and playoff home-field advantage.


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