Now it feels like the Seattle Sounders are getting into the higher gears. Seattle’s home opener was an affair with plenty of celebration beforehand, almost turning it into a ‘trap game’, according to Head Coach Brian Schmetzer. But rather than be distracted by the banners, trophy and tifo, the Sounders delivered a focused, mostly comfortable home victory over the New York Red Bulls.
New York’s narrow, crowded midfield disrupted the Sounders at times and moved quickly forward in attack, but Cristian Roldan, Osvaldo Alonso and the altered backline were up to the task. Meanwhile, Joevin Jones, Nicolas Lodeiro, and others gladly exploited the yacht-sized spaces left on the wings and created chance after chance.
At 1-1-1 the Sounders have made a solid start to their 2017. Their upcoming match with Atlanta United will be an important test for both sides.
Sunday, March 19, 2017
Venue: Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field
Referee: Baldomero Toledo
Assistants: Frank Anderson, Gianni Facchini
Fourth Official: Dave Gantar
Weather: 50 degrees and mostly sunny
SEA - Clint Dempsey (penalty) 28'
NY - Bradley Wright-Phillips (Sal Zizzo) 57'
SEA - Jordan Morris (Nico Lodeiro, Joevin Jones) 66'
SEA - Harry Shipp (Joevin Jones) 79'
NY - Felipe (caution) 25'
NY - Luis Robles (caution) 28'
NY - Fredrik Gulbrandsen (caution) 30'
NY - Bradley Wright-Phillips (caution) 62'
SEA - Clint Dempsey (caution) 78'
SEA - Alvaro Fernandez (caution) 90'+2'
LINEUPS & STATS
Seattle Sounders FC - Stefan Frei; Oniel Fisher (Alvaro Fernandez 65'), Gustav Svensson, Chad Marshall, Joevin Jones; Osvaldo Alonso - captain, Cristian Roldan Nico Lodeiro, Clint Dempsey (Henry Wingo 90'), Harry Shipp; Jordan Morris (Will Bruin 81')
Substitutes not used: Tyler Miller, Tony Alfaro, Seyi Adekoya, Zach Mathers
Total shots: 13 (Shipp/Morris, 3)
Shots on goal: 5 (Morris/Shipp, 2)
Fouls: 13 (Roldan, 4)
Offside: 4 (4 players, 1)
Corner-kicks: 2 (Shipp/Lodeiro, 1)
Saves: 1 (Frei, 1)
New York Red Bulls - Luis Robles; Sal Zizzo, Damien Perrinelle, Aaron Long, Justin Bilyeu; Felipe, Sean Davis (Derrick Etienne Jr., 74'), Sacha Kljestan - captain, Daniel Royer (Alex Muyl 81'); Fredrik Gulbrandsen (Mike Grella 57'), Bradley Wright-Phillips
Substitutes not used: Ryan Meara, Tyler Adams, Michael Amir Murillo, Aurelien Collin
Total shots: 10 (Wright-Phillips, 3)
Shots on goal: 2 (Felipe/Wright-Phillips, 1)
Fouls: 16 (Gulbrandsen, 4)
Corner-kicks: 4 (Kljestan, 4)
Saves: 2 (Robles, 2)
SOUNDERS FC HEAD COACH BRIAN SCHMETZER
On Cristian Roldan:
“He was absolutely fantastic – I love that kid. I love the whole team, but he was great. [That performance] should be an eye-opener to people above my paygrade.”
On Roldan’s development:
“He was already a kid with a big heart from day one. But his interactions with Gonzo [Pineda], Ozzie [Alonso] and some of the senior players, he studies film, he studies his opponent prior to the game – I thought that was one of his signature performances that we all see and understand and get used to, but, for the rest of the country, I thought he did great.”
On Jordan Morris:
“Another kid I love talking about – tough kid. He got nicked up on that tough play in the first half. At halftime they were actually going to pull him, but he said, ‘No, I am going out there.’ It’s a testament to another kid who has a winning mentality. He dinged up his ankle. We’ll make sure to check it out, but [he is] a tough kid.”
On the crowd:
“North of 45,000 [in attendance]; I think it was a proper start to what I know is going to be a great home season. I think our fans have outdone themselves in many ways over the years, but today’s atmosphere was really, really cool. It was good. They were loud from the beginning and they were loud at the end – fortunately for us we were able to give them a good soccer performance to reward them for their support.”
On Oniel Fisher:
“He was good, but he has a left hamstring injury. We will assess that and make do. Soccer is a team sport, so we will cover and make do.”
On the resiliency of the backline:
“Coming back from [goals] has been a signature of this team for a long time. We have had some good second-half performances last year, we have had good second-half performances this year. I can’t tell you how or why, but the spirit of the team is there.”
On winning at home for the Championship Celebration:
“It was kind of a trap game in the sense of, ‘Are you going to get carried away thinking about last year?’ The referee blows the whistle and all of a sudden you have to switch gears and say, ‘OK, we’re 0-1-1.’ So in that sense it was a trap game. I think some of the soccer we have played was good, some was bad, but I thought tonight was an all-around good performance.”
SOUNDERS FC MIDFIELDER NICOLÁS LODEIRO
On the importance of the win:
“[It was] very, very important because it was the first game at home after winning the [MLS] Cup last year. It was important for us to prove that we are contenders.”
On the chemistry with Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris:
“[It is] very good. Little by little we are getting closer together, we are understanding each other better, and if we can keep progressing during the games, I think we are going to keep improving and improving.”
On what worked well for the team:
“I think we were finally able to find the right pass within the game to be able to perform well. This is the first time [this season], I believe, that we got onto the field very concentrated, as opposed to some of the other games where we were not concentrating at the beginning.”
On the performance of Joevin Jones:
“I think Joevin is doing really, really great. He’s a very important player for the team, and when he is playing at the level that he was playing today, it shows up in the rest of the team.”
SOUNDERS FC MIDFIELDER CRISTIAN ROLDAN
On whether he felt the match was a ‘must-win game’:
“Yeah, I think everybody felt this way. We don’t want to put pressure on ourselves, [but] it was a slow start last year and we don’t want to do that this year. Especially at home, with what’s going on with the banner unveiling and our first home game. There was a lot at stake and we are very, very glad -- very pleased -- with our performance and we are happy to get the three points.”
On how the team was able to succeed against the Red Bulls’ high press:
“I think it played into our favor almost, because we have such quick guys, like Jordan [Morris] and Joevin [Jones], who are able to get in behind. There were a couple of long balls where – the penalty kick for example, it was drawn up from Chad [Marshall] just kicking the ball up and Jordan making a play. That’s what it takes, so it kind of fell into our hands.”
On what worked well for the team:
“I think in the second half especially, we just slowed the game down and played to our tempo, reacting to what they brought to us. I think they got a little tired because they were pressing. We played through the lines, Joevin was flying, and Fisher was flying up until he left [with injury]. But everything was just clicking and that also happens because you’re at home. But I thought everybody was spot on today.”
On what makes Joevin Jones so effective when going forward:
“Yeah, Joevin is unpredictable, I think. I think he is the best left back in the MLS, I’m just going to go ahead and say that. I think he’s that good. You see it in Jordan’s goal, where he megs the guy and passes it to Nico [Lodeiro]. The composure that he has is unfair almost. It’s crazy how good he is, how technically sound he is and how fast he is and that’s what makes him a good player.”
SOUNDERS FC FORWARD JORDAN MORRIS
On the atmosphere at kickoff:
“[It was] amazing. The fans deserve it and it was fun to celebrate with them. It gave me chills to see the banner come down and it will always be up there, no one can take that away from us.”
On the discussion with his dad about playing in the second half:
“He’s always in there trying to figure things out, but it’s great. We were going to out and there try [the injured ankle] for ten minutes and see, and it felt fine. A little bit of pain, but nothing too bad. I always want to be playing, I don’t want to come out of the game.”
On his goal:
“I don’t really remember how [the ball] got to the endline, but Joevin got down there and beat his guy, slid it back to Nico and I was just kind of lurking around the back post hoping the ball would come in. Nico put in a perfect ball and it didn’t leave me with much to do, so credit to them.”
NEW YORK RED BULLS HEAD COACH JESSE MARSCH
On the game:
“I don’t think we played very well. I don’t think we had very many individual performances that were good, and then collectively, that meant that the game just slipped away from us too much. Then we made bad mistakes that cost us on goal. If you have a day when you go on the road against a good team and you don’t have any good individual performances and then you wind up making grave errors and mistakes that gives the other team goals, then you have a recipe for a loss. That’s what today was. Listen, it’s early in the year, so not everyone is at their sharpest and best yet, but we’ve got to find a way, with the weather back home and everything else we’ve got going on, to get ourselves sharp and better so that we’re able to perform better.”
On any adjustments they may have made on Jordan Morris at halftime:
“In the first half, we had too high of a line, so it meant that [Morris] was able to run in behind us a little bit too much. That’s the function of what he does – he tries to run on the line and he’s powerful and quick. I felt like until 1-0 that there wasn’t a whole lot of danger, then we gave them a goal. Even if we could’ve played a little bit better in the second half, the game was there for us. We even get the tying goal and still can’t manage to really get ourselves into the game.”
On what changed after the tying goal:
“They raised their level a little bit. Once it got 1-1, either one team or the other is going to be able to push a little bit more. You would’ve hoped that it would’ve been us now that we had some momentum, but because we just weren’t any good on the day, it was hard to command the game.”
On where the game plan may have fallen apart:
“There are two parts to it. With the ball, we weren’t sharp enough and able to make enough plays to create advantages. Then with our pressing, the amount of times guys were able to dribble out of two or three players and start to create advantages because we let them out of tight spots meant that we had to deal with numbers up, numbers down situations, and counters in attacking plays. If we could win more of those balls, then we could actually set ourselves up to have more advantages the other way. We have to be better at our pressing and forward defending and then have to be better in possession.”
On having the team’s 18-game unbeaten streak snapped:
“It’s never really been about the wins or the streak as much as it’s about trying to figure out how to get better every day. We never even talked about it actually. Not one time as a team did we ever talk about the streak. This group has been solid and has been good for two-plus years, so I’m not going to get too down on the performance other than just to now encourage our guys to have urgency in training every day to make sure that we’re getting what we need out of it so we can move ourselves along.”
On the penalty call for Seattle and the non-penalty call for New York:
“I think the penalty call was fair. I didn’t get a good look, but it looked like it probably wasn’t a penalty when (Fredrik) Gulbrandsen got the yellow card – that was probably the right call. The ref handled himself fine today.”
On the biggest challenge against this Seattle attack:
“I think self-inflicted wounds. So as much as I know those guys are good players, we pretty much gave them a lot of their chances by either making bad mistakes or by giving bad balls away. Not to take anything away from them, but clearly today was a day of self-inflicted wounds.”
NEW YORK RED BULLS DEFENDER AARON LONG
On coming back to Seattle:
“It was emotional. I was pretty pumped for the game. I also felt a little calm in the stadium. It felt normal. It felt like home.”
On the game:
“I thought we had some chances. We could have buried them. I thought that we let them score a little bit too easy on the defense to be honest.”
On having mixed feelings on being here in Seattle after having been with the Sounders:
Not really. I wasn't really thinking about that. I was just getting ready for the game.
On your thoughts on the atmosphere:
“It was electric. The crowd was loud. It was a good game.”
On playing against Dempsey, Lodeiro and Morris:
“Yeah they are great players and they kind of freestyle up there, so they are always tough to keep an eye on. I think as a back four we had to be aware and talk a lot.”
NEW YORK RED BULLS MIDFIELDER SACHA KLJESTAN
On the game:
“I just don’t think we played good enough. I think we were not good enough on the ball; our spacing, our movement is just not at the level we need to be right now to win games on the road. I think tactically we are pretty sound. So that helps us stay in games, but right now we are not sharp enough, not creating enough goal scoring opportunities.”
On being called to the National Team:
“I am excited. Any time you get called to the National Team it is a special honor. It is the biggest honor in our country to play for the National Team as a soccer player. I’m excited to get there. Obviously we are in a pretty difficult spot right now having started with zero points in our first two games so we have to get some points out of these next two and I’m here to help however I can.”
On the new formation:
“We are getting there week-by-week. We focused a lot on the tactics. Now I think we need to turn a little bit more towards being better on the ball, just being a better passing team especially in a game like today where there was a lot of space to play. We were not able to carve out enough chances. But so far so good we are getting there. It is early in the season but we are getting there.”
On the Sounders:
“The Sounders are good. Coming at home for their first game of the season to play in front of their fans to unveil their banner from their championship season, it was obviously going to be a difficult game. There was definitely space to play. Like I said, we could have been a lot better and carved out more chances if we were just a little bit sharper on the ball. Obviously the attacking trio of Dempsey, Morris and Lodeiro is one of the best in the league. It is difficult to deal with. Lodeiro was able to float around the field everywhere and create a lot of chances today.”
NEW YORK RED BULLS FORWARD BRADLEY WRIGHT-PHILLIPS
On the game:
“Not great; it was always going to be tough. Coming here and the celebration that happened before. It was always going to be tough. On top of that we didn’t really play well. We didn’t create enough. They were good. We made some silly mistakes. I think we could have defended better on them. But we got back into the game and I think that we conceded that second one they played the game very professional and then it was hard to get back into it.”
On the goal:
“There was much service in there. I don't think we put enough crosses into today. I just tried to get in front of the defender and get anything on it and it went in”.
On where the team can improve:
“I think we need to be better with the ball. I don’t think desire or work rate is a question for us. I think we do that. That’s a default for us. I think we need to be better with the ball. We need to create more, otherwise we are not going to score many goals.”
On his thoughts on the 18-game streak ending:
It was a great run. It was going to end sometime. In this fashion, I am not happy with that. I think we could have kept going but the performance tonight wasn’t good enough.”