The folks over at Sounder at Heart have made a big to do about the Seattle's attack being known as "the Hydra". In fact, they are so in love with this nickname, they have even printed shirts. It's getting play on mlssoccer.com. So what's behind this mythical monster metaphor?
Their thinking behind the nickname is simple: "What makes the Sounders so dangerous is their ability to beat you with so many different players. They've got six players with at least five goals across all competitions."
I find this analogy is amusing because in the pantheon of great mythical monsters the Hydra was rather insignificant. The Hydra was the son of the Typhon, an absolutely bad-ass monster with a human body that reached to the stars. From his neck sprang 100 dragon heads, and the lower half of his body was made of giant viper coils. His eyes were made of fire and even the Gods were afraid of him. The Typhon was so boss, he once overcame Zeus in a battle and ripped out his sinews.
Sometimes the apple does fall far from the tree. In the case of the Hydra, I'm pretty sure it was picked up and moved to the other side of the orchard because the Hydra is a complete joke by comparison. The Hydra wasn't nearly as large and had only 9 heads, only 1 of which was immortal. Having been bred by Hera to kill Heracles, the Hydra had one job in life; which it failed. Heracles slew the Hydra, and the Galaxy will do the same.
This may sound like a lot of bravado, but the Galaxy have already performed the task once before this season. Make no mistake about it, the Galaxy is Heracles.
Now the Hydra lived in a swamp which emitted poisonous fumes, much like the kind which would be emitted by Seattle's god-awful turf if it ever caught on fire. The Hydra lived in a cave deep in this swamp, and Heracles used flaming arrows to draw it out; much like the Galaxy pulled Pappa and Neagle so far off their marks.
In some versions of the story, Heracles then used the Hydra's own venom prevent it's heads from regrowing. In other words, he used it's own weapon against it.
And here is where the Galaxy will rule the day, and why the Hyrda is really nothing to fear. The Sounders play a 4-4-2 that really plays more like a 4-2-3-1.
In Hydra terms, the Sounders push 4 attacking players forward. Interestingly, however, just like the hydra, only one of them is truly immortal (or rather, two). Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey are the real threats. Pappa and Neagle, in their advanced positioning, are an extreme liability. Time and time again this season they have shown an inability to mark men, and it's led to Seattle being terrorized on the wings. Without their help, Sounders only defend with 6 men. The Galaxy, on the other hand, attack with 7. And with Donovan and Keane pulling the strings, the Galaxy are incredibly good at exploiting numerical advantages when presented to them.
In many ways, Seattle's hydra represents the same things that literary critics have attributed the Hydra of Greek myth. It is an insatiable lust for pleasure-i.e. Goals.
The price, however, is defensive liability.
For an in depth look at how the Galaxy dismantled Seattle, I wrote this article at the time.
For an in depth tactical preview of the games to come, stay tuned. I'll have that for you in the coming days, but for now, fear not the Hydra. Embrace it.