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Sounders attack comes under increased scrutiny

With only eight goals in their opening six games, the Sounders are facing increased questions about their attack and the bench role of natural scorer Will Bruin

It didn’t take long after a loss in Vancouver on Saturday for questions about the role of Sounders forward Will Bruin to begin surfacing. Bruin scored his second goal of the season in the 2-1 defeat after he was given 22 minutes of playing time as a late-game substitution.

The two goals scored by Bruin so far are already one more than striker Jordan Morris despite much less playing time in a bench role. That brought the questions that coach Brian Schmetzer admitted will be looked at ahead of this weekend’s contest against the Los Angeles Galaxy.

As to who might be replaced by Bruin, the easiest answer appears to be midfielder Harry Shipp. The Sounders aren’t about to relegate Nicolas Lodeiro or Clint Dempsey to a bench role and second-year forward Morris is also positioning himself for plenty of chances — just not finishing them off.

“It’s just the final product, to be honest,” Morris, who has a lone goal the team’s opening six games, said after Tuesday’s practice. “We’re rushing a little too much and we continue to feel each other out. Finding that right balance between keeping possession and looking to play the ball over the top. Things like that. But again, that will all come as the season moves on. We definitely have the players to win games.”

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In the loss to the Whitecaps, the Sounders controlled vast swaths of play — especially in the first 20 minutes. But after Dempsey hit the crossbar early and some additional close-in chances missed their target, the Sounders let the Whitecaps creep back into the game. By the second half, play was rather even and a couple of crosses led to goals on headers in the box by Fredy Montero.

Afterwards, Sounders coach Schmetzer lamented that all of the possession time in the world doesn’t matter if you can’t score.

And the Sounders have scored just once in the opening half of play all season. On four other occasions, they’ve gone in to the final 10 minutes of a game without a goal. They’ve scored four of their eight goals overall in the final 10 minutes of regulation or in extra time.

But adding to his dilema of what to do with veteran Bruin, whose bench role appears somewhat wasted on a team with scoring issues, are the skills of the guy he’d probably replace as a starter. Shipp is known largely as a possession-type player on a team that is trying to build around a possession-based attack.

Then again, as Schmetzer mentioned, possession is meaningless without the goals to go with it.

Bruin would be one of those players Morris mentioned who is capable of winning games as a natural sniper, having notched 50 goals over his first six MLS seasons in Houston before a Decmeber trade here. He scored the equalizer in extra…

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