The Seattle Sounders dominated the Western Conference bottom feeders on Sunday (okay, okay, they’re in 10th) in an epic 3-0 win that was full of controversy. As usual, the scoreline is the most important number in soccer—but here are a few other numbers that help paint the picture of this match.
This Sounders dominated the individual battles against the Rapids, as shown by their nearly 60% duels won percentage. In raw numbers, Seattle won 64 duels to the Rapids’ 43. Brian Schmetzer said that he considered this to be the stat that matters most to him, rather than possession percentage or passing accuracy. “We won 60 percent of our duels. Score lines come from the team driving to make sure they win every tackle, every 50/50 duel.” It showed him that his team was fighting for every ball, because domination like this starts with each individual winning their specific matchups.
Not a stat, per se, but this was the minute in which Clint Dempsey saw red after a controversial decision by referee Christopher Penso. After consultation by the VAR, Penso reviewed the video and decided (within 10-15 seconds, mind) that Dempsey was guilty of violent conduct and sent the Seattle forward off. The Sounders were up 1-0, and this was a moment that could have completely derailed the home side’s plans and aim of securing 2nd place in the West. But that didn’t happen. Other than the Rapids’ unsuccessful penalty, the Sounders mostly dominated the match and scored two goals after Dempsey’s sending off. For the most part, it didn’t even look like the Sounders were down a man for the 40+ minutes until Sjoberg also saw red.
Cristian Roldan’s passing percentage in this match. Much was made about Nicolas Lodeiro dropping deep to play next to Roldan in the absence of Ozzie Alonso and Gustav Svensson, and for good reason. But Roldan was the player that had to adapt his game to become the more defensive of the deep midfield duo, to allow Lodeiro to get forward and play his creative game at times. Roldan has clearly learned a lot in his many minutes next to Alonso, and his passing in this match showed that he is fully capable of taking on that role for Seattle.
The Sounders lost the possession battle in this match, despite the scoreline. A curious quirk about this season for the Sounders is that they don’t always win the games in which they dominate possession. Nearly all the chances in this game were for the home side, including a staggering 17 shots with five on target. Instead of worrying about keeping the ball and passing circles around their opponents, they stuck to their game and just flew down the pitch to attack nearly every time they had the ball. It seems that Schmetzer has learned a lot about this over the course of the season as well, and his tactics reflect it.
Kelvin Leerdam’s chances created in this match. The Dutch fullback has been a revelation for Seattle since arriving in midseason, and this match was one of the ones in which his effect was most obvious. He rarely puts a foot wrong, but his contribution isn’t always visible. But today, his assist for the opening goal was a combination of an exquisite touch, experienced vision, and a flawless pass to his teammate. He’s become an essential creative outlet for Seattle, often using his pace and classy technique to build up play on the right side without compromising on defense. Leerdam had the most passes and touches of all four defenders, and he led the team with his chances created stat.