In a match full of golden chances for the Seattle Sounders, their opponents were the ones who made their shots count. A Sam Grella poached goal and another tally from a Grella late run made a result on the road at Red Bull Arena unlikely for Seattle, and by the time they were down 2-0, their attacking vigor had dried up.
Aaron Kovar will be particularly frustrated. None of his five shots found the target, but each one was tantalizingly close. Nelson Valdez made his return in a substitute appearance, but neither he nor Oalex Anderson were able to bring the Sounders back into the match.
The Sounders are now 5-8-1, -4 GD. That's good for 9th in the Western Conference and 1.14 points-per-game.
Sunday, June 19, 2016
Venue: Red Bull Arena
Referee: Chris Penso
Assistants: Brian Dunn, Jeff Muschik
Fourth Official: Jose Carlos Rivero
Weather: Partly cloudy and 73 degrees
NYR - Mike Grella 18'
NYR - Mike Grella 59'
SEA - Osvaldo Alonso (caution) 4'
NYR - Felipe (caution) 4'
NYR - Bradley Wright-Phillips (caution) 7'
NYR - Connor Lade (caution) 79'
NYR - Aurelien Collin (caution) 82'
SEA - Erik Friberg (caution) 86'
LINEUPS & STATS
Seattle Sounders FC - Stefan Frei; Tyrone Mears, Brad Evans - captain, Chad Marshall, Dylan Remick; Osvaldo Alonso, Erik Friberg, Andreas Ivanschitz (Cristian Roldan 81'); Aaron Kovar (Nelson Valdez 68'), Jordan Morris, Joevin Jones (Oalex Anderson 68')
Substitutes not used: Tyler Miller, Oniel Fisher, Zach Scott, Herculez Gomez
Total shots: 16 (Kovar, 5)
Shots on goal: 3 (3 players tied with 1)
Fouls: 14 (Alonso, 3)
Offside: 1 (Morris, 1)
Corner-kicks: 5 (Ivanschitz, 5)
Saves: 1 (Frei, 1)
New York Red Bulls - Luis Robles; Sal Zizzo, Chris Duvall, Ronald Zubar (Gideon Baah 82'), Connor Lade; Felipe, Dax McCarty, Lloyd Sam (Alex Muyl 75'), Sacha Kljestan (Aurelien Collin 61'), Mike Grella; Bradley Wright-Phillips
Substitutes not used: Kyle Reynish, Justin Bilyeu, Sean Davis, Anatole Abang
Total shots: 11 (Wright-Phillips, 5)
Shots on goal: 3 (Grella, 2)
Fouls: 8 (Duvall/McCarty, 2)
Offside: 2 (Lade/Wright-Phillips, 1)
Corner-kicks: 4 (Kljestan, 3)
Saves: 3 (Robles, 3)
Seattle Sounders FC head coach SIgi Schmid
We created a number of really, really good chances. We had probably a couple we should have scored before but outside of that I thought we played really well, but the end of the day, Red Bull won.
On his thoughts going into halftime:
Goals change games. You know, there's nothing else I can say. You've got to make goalkeepers make saves. The easiest save for the goalkeeper is the one he doesn't have to make. So it can look great when you're bending the ball towards the corner, but if you don't hit the frame, he doesn't have to do anything. So we've got to make sure we make goalkeepers work and we've got to finish those opportunities.
On if the Open Cup game midweek had an impact:
On his 500th game and how soccer in America has changed:
Well, I mean, soccer has definitely improved an awful lot. Even in my years in MLS, the quality of play has certainly gotten much stronger, you know, much better early on, and the MLS, the defending was porous, to say the least.
Now teams defend well, but teams also keep possession of the ball. They move the ball around. They make you work. Just the overall quality of play has improved, and I think all aspects of the game: The coaching, the players; I'll even say the referees.
On Joevin Jones:
I thought early on, I thought he wasn't in the game the first ten, 15 minutes but then early on, he got some good chances to run at Zizzo, and I thought he created some problems. I would have wanted to see him do it a little more.
On Kovar's play and the substitution:
Kovar played in The Open Cup game and he wasn't finishing anything, and I could see that that was affecting him, as well. So we felt that was the reason for the change.
On the difference between the two teams:
I think we were tired. I take nothing away from their combination, their running, and it was a good little overlapping run that put it in. But if Evans gets his foot fully on the ball, then it's not a problem; then Frei just clears it and Frei almost got there anyway. Grella finished it well. It was a good bit of skill. But I think on our part it was a little bit of fatigue, and with the Red Bull, it was combination there and it was a quality finish.
On having so many chances in the first half:
We just have to continue to play the way we're playing, because our tactics were right. We talked about the tactics and we talked about how we wanted to play and the guys followed that, and I thought we opened them up fairly well, you know.
So I said to continue to do what we're doing. We can get goals. But when you're 1-0 down, it's really nothing but when you're 2-0, it becomes a little harder.
On Jordan Morris:
Yeah, it's his first professional year. Thing is, every game over the last six or so that he's played for us, he's gotten three to four good looks in each game, and now it's a matter of him, instead of, you know, finishing 20 percent of those looks, he needs to start finishing 30 and 40 and then 50 percent of those looks and that just comes with experience.
We've got to score goals. It's a matter of continuing to go to the practice ground, continue to work on our finishing, but a lot of it is just the confidence of the players.
On coaching 500 games:
I mean, it just means that I've had a lot of good players. I've been blessed that way, and I've had the opportunity to coach a lot of good players and it's allowed me to stay in the league. So it's great. I probably won't remember this game very much because of the way it ended.
On raising confidence in players:
You have to keep doing what you're doing. It's not we're not creating chances. We're creating chances, so we have to continue to do that and we have to continue to believe in how we're playing.
Obviously we have to wait for some of our young players to mature, because when you look at who the chances fell to tonight, you're looking at Jordan Morris, you're looking at Aaron Kovar, you're looking at Oalex Anderson, even Joevin Jones. Those guys are young guys. So we need to wait for those guys to mature a little bit. And it would help if we stay injury-free.
If you look at the Red Bull front six, if you take out Lloyd Sam, the other five have probably played, what, 95 percent of their last 50 games together, so that leads to continuity and understanding.
On getting more out of players:
I think they are equally frustrated on the field. Obviously when they are playing the game, they can't sit there and pout and throw a tantrum and stop playing.
It's just a matter of continuing to work on it, like I said, and at practice, continuing to put an emphasis on scoring goals and training.
On Nelson Valdez:
He was gone with Paraguay. He really didn't play many games with them. He had come off a calf injury with us before he went into Paraguay. We didn't feel he was 90 minutes fit, and the way we were playing, we were playing well, so there was no need to make a change earlier.
On a spot for Joevin Jones:
As a sub, he's come on and made an impact for us, coming off the wing. This is the first game he started for us on the wing. He started there for Trinidad numerous times. Again, he's such a good player, I always expect a little more from him.
Seattle Sounders FC midfielder Aaron Kovar
On not getting a point in New York:
Yeah, it's really frustrating but they played amazing. Their midfield was nothing that I had seen all season. I didn't think we would come to Red Bull and they would play that well but we had a lot of opportunities and I take a lot of responsibility there I had four or five breakaway opportunities and I just couldn't bag them.
On getting opportunities in the first half:
It was all of the guys behind us, they were amazing in the back and the midfield. All of our defenders didn't put a foot wrong and after so many opportunities missed it puts a lot of pressure on them.
Seattle Sounders FC forward Jordan Morris:
On what he would change for next game:
Yeah, I mean, it's very frustrating [inaudible] because I thought we played really well. And it's on me to finish those chances and I didn't put them away today, so I just have to keep working on those and I think we'll win our next game.
That's the only thing you really can do is look forward to the next game. Can't change this result, so just have to keep working hard, obviously keep working on that finishing and look forward to the next one. We need to get three points out of that game.
On why the team hasn't been scoring:
Yeah, I mean, I don't know if it's confidence. Maybe it's confidence, I don't know. You just really got to keep working on it, [inaudible] I mean, we're going at teams and all that kind of stuff, it's just the final product isn't there.
On his scoring:
Yeah, I mean it's the worst feeling in the world, cause it's kind of on your shoulders. I mean, we played so well today and I was on and I needed to finish those chances and I didn't. It's not a fun feeling at all. Hopefully I can put some away and help the team win the next one.
New York Red Bulls Head Coach Jesse Marsch
On maintaining momentum after a long break:
Yeah, wasn't our best to be honest, but you have to credit Seattle that they came in here and they decided they were going to try and play. They did a good job, especially in the first half of, at moments putting us on our heels.
There's a lot of pride right now in the group to get shutouts and to prevent goals from going in. So Connor sliding; all of our backs are sliding around; Dax and Felipe are running back; on-set pieces you see our guys making big, desperate plays. Luis is doing a good job of keeping everybody tuned in, surveying, making saves, being so solid.
So that's going to be a key for us moving forward here is we've got to continue to find ways to get clean sheets and not give goals away.
On the play of Mike Grella:
Yeah, I mean, listen, I don't want to take credit for Mike, because I think Mike's just gotten himself going as the season's gone on and he's gotten sharper and sharper and more confident.
The thing with Mike is always getting the balance right of when to play simple and when to do special things, and clearly, when he gets that balance right, he's very difficult to deal with.
And I thought the third one was going in, the one that went just wide. But right now, he's sharp; he's been really good. All of our attacking guys have been really sharp.
So you know, right now, on both sides of the ball, we feel like we've got a lot of options and we're going to have to call on a lot of them with a busy week.
On subbing Collin in for Kljestan:
Once again, we were thinking about going to a five-man back when it was 1-0 and once it goes 2-0, now you're thinking, all right, who do you take often field when you go to five, and then hopefully conserve that person a little bit for potentially Wednesday and then Saturday.
I think Sacha pushed hard in Rochester, played 90 minutes, so it made sense to get him off and see if we can get him recovered and regenerated and throw him back out there on Wednesday.
On the challenge of playing against Seattle:
Well, again, I have to; I think Seattle played really well. Of all the games I've seen them play this year, this was one of their best. They put us on our heels. I thought we could have done better if we had pressed together at moments and picked off more balls, but they were clever, they were good on the ball and they had good movements and spaced themselves well and pulled us apart.
We haven't had many teams do that here at Red Bull Arena, so that was -- you know, that was something that we'll look at and continue to think about how we can improve upon that but I'll give Seattle credit.
On the current streak and climbing the standings:
Yeah, we've rebounded really well. I think we were going to use the downtime to motivate us and to make us clear on what it was going to take to be successful.
I think that that has been the case, but it's still ongoing. It doesn't stop. You have to continue to push. You can't stop and be too proud of yourself because that's when the next slip-up will come. We have to stay focused.
It's a really hard week. I mean, I don't know how the league can arrange a week like this for us. I put a lot on them in the scheduling that this was really poor, really poor. Especially now with travel between Salt Lake and Columbus; it's the worst combination of Sunday-Wednesday-Saturday you could possibly have.
Not happy about it. But whatever. We have to suck it up and figure out a way to put a team out on Wednesday to go after the game.
On rotating players and approaching the congested schedule:
We said at the beginning of the year that we believed in our roster and we wanted it to be the type of thing where we could rotate; we could rotate tactics at time, and rotate players at time. And a lot of it was due to matchups and who we would be playing against.
And so, you know, I mean, listen, that wasn't an easy thing to do to not put Aurelien in the lineup tonight, but we thought that Chris [Duvall] matched up really well against Jordan Morris and his speed. Chris has done a really good job for us, so we've gotten to the point to where we rely on him not just at right back but at center back.
In the end, I think Chris was a big piece of us preventing goals from going in tonight. And having Aurelien come in off the bench was a big plus, too.
On if he worried about Grella not having the same season as he did last year:
No. There was talk about Brad early in the year. There was talk about Mike, Lloyd, Sacha. We weren't scoring a lot of goals. There were questions.
But I know these guys. I know what they are about. I watch them every day. They are great men. They are very good players. They give everything they have and it was just a matter of like redefining certain things and really now, you know, getting them going to the point where now when they step on the field, they are clear and they are confident. So clearly when you look at Mike right now, that's the case.
On the play of the defense:
Well, we're talking about confidence from some of the attacking players; there's a lot of confidence in the defending group right now and a lot of it comes from pure effort, a lot of guys, throwing themselves around, running back at top speeds, trying to cut down space.
If one guy gets beat, the next guy is alert to help him deal with the next situation and now total commitment. That's led to confidence and now where before, it was always waiting for a goal to happen; now it's waiting for a guy to make a play to prevent goals. That momentum has been really good for us.
New York Red Bulls winger Mike Grella
On how satisfying of a performance the game was:
It was good but it was also a good team performance. We had to sit in tough, it was a very difficult game with the heat and they had a lot more of the ball than we are used to, from teams we play at home and it was just a satisfying result to get the three points. I had my two chances and put them away and we got the three points. So it is satisfying, but for sure the talking point of the night was defensively we got another shutout as a group and that's what's important.
On his second goal of the game:
You press so many times with the front four, we press so much, the whole team really presses so much for those opportunities. Some games you don't get them but finally they made one little mistake at the back and he sort of had a slow pass back to the goalkeeper and the timing and the position was set up for that type of finish at that moment. I was thinking about taking it around him but then I just decided to go over him.
On the upcoming road trip and the current fitness of the team:
I think it is difficult to play 90 minutes in this heat and then come back again on Wednesday but we have such a good group, a good squad, everyone is fit here, everyone is hungry to play so, physically, I don't ever think, really, it will be too much of a problem for us. Away games are just difficult in general. We are playing a very good Real Salt Lake team so, that's the challenge in front of us but physically, I think we will be prepared for the match.
On the team keeping a shutout for the past five games, including Open Cup:
It's huge. Championship teams are built from the back up, from the back to the front, and the defense is the most important thing and I mean that as a group and defensively as a group if we keep clean sheets we are going to create chances, we're going to get chances and be dangerous. That is how you build a solid team that can really go after cups and championships is with the defense, so keeping shutouts is very important for us.
On having the confidence of his coach:
Yeah it's huge. He's been responsible for a huge part of my success. Jesse and the whole entire coaching staff, the family, give me a lot of confidence to go out on the field and play the way... I feel comfortable, I feel free out on the field and I'm very happy.
On being in the right place at the right time for his first goal of the game:
Yeah, right place at the right time. Great strike from Sacha and you know, I've scored a few of those in my career where the ball just bounces around in the box, so of course I'm thinking that's coming off the post and coming right to me, just in case it does, and it did and I was prepared for it and it was a simple finish.
New York Red Bulls midfielder Sacha Kljestan
On the play of Mike Grella:
My goal is when I get on the ball in between the lines is to find Brad, Lloyd and Mike. Brad is always making space for himself to be on the run. Mike is a lot better when I can get the ball to his feet and he can take guys one-on-one. Tonight he put himself in good spots to score goals but on the ball he was always dangerous.
On the defense gutting it out:
The defense came up big in a few big moments and Luis made a few saves and they didn't really capitalize on their chances they had early in the game, otherwise it could have been different. I'm very happy we get a shutout, the defenders made so very good plays. Mike made two really good plays in front of the goal. We definitely didn't have as much possession as we usually do at home, they came here and they came to play. They played through our press, they had some guys who were comfortable on the ball we knew that was going to happen but we thought we would be able to contain them better, so we ran too much tonight off the ball.
On having Bradley Wright-Phillips and Grella up front:
Mike has proved to be a very good goal scorer and you know, we have said in training he scores amazing goals and Jesse says we got to dare you to score these amazing goals in games too because there were moments last season where he was the best player in training and he would score these unbelievable goals and then we would get in the game and he didn't finish off plays, and so Jesse really challenged him to finish off these beautiful plays as well. And he's done that, second half of last season and this season.
On getting the result after the break:
Yeah, a win and a shutout, very important. Very happy with the shutout, you know we are putting ourselves closer to Philly and that's important. We go on a road trip now where we have got four games, between two competitions, on the road. It's going to be tough but we have a good mentality and we have the shutout streak going so we hope to keep that alive.
New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles
On recent defensive performances:
Yeah defensively the thing that has been so special about the last five games is that it's been an entire team working as one unit. All the way from Brad to our outside midfielders to our guys in the middle, then of course the back line all the way back to myself. Of course when I see that happening it gives me a lot of confidence that we're going to do a great job defensively and they got some opportunities in the first half and they opened us up a little bit but we kept it tight in the second half and that's why we were able to finish the shutout tonight.
On Seattle's pressure:
Yeah you have to give them a lot of credit, they move the ball pretty well. They get the ball out wide and they play dangerous balls. They've got some quality players in the middle that were a little unlucky, I think the one chance with Kovar in the back could have been dangerous and then of course he hit the post in the second half. There were still a couple of those shots with Ivanschitz and then Jordan Morris. They definitely were a handful tonight, we knew that coming in, that they were going to be dangerous over the top and that on set pieces they were going to be dangerous but we did a good job of neutralizing. Like I said, we got a little lucky but sometimes when you go on runs like this you need that. I'm just really glad that it came in tonight.