It wasn’t all just a dream. We really did just witness what was about as unbelievable and strange a game as the Seattle Sounders have ever played. It wasn’t just the six total goals or even that the Sounders erased a 3-0 deficit in the final 16 minutes. The Sounders also completed nearly 90 percent of their 742 passes, fired off 26 shots and managed to hit the woodwork three times. All of those figures are either franchise records or tied franchise records, including this being the first time the team had ever erased a three-goal deficit.
In many ways, it was a dominant performance. In others, it was a series of inexcusable lapses. At the end of the day, though, it’s one point. You can see it as one more than it seemed like they were going to get or two fewer than they probably should have. But it was also the kind of game that showed a fighting spirit that has become a bit of a calling card for Brian Schmetzer’s Sounders, albeit not ever to this extreme.
What was amazing was how even after going down 2-0 at halftime and even after falling behind 3-0, there was always this sense that the Sounders could come back. They were dominating so much of the ball and generating good looks, they just couldn’t finish. That it took Nico Lodeiro banking his shot off a defender’s chest to finally get the comeback started made some kind of poetic sense.
We can only hope this ultimately proves to be a positive result, even if right now it feels awfully frustrating.
That was a whole lot of passing
It’s not often that a MLS team holds nearly 75 percent of the possession in a game. It’s even rarer when they do it against a team with all 11 players. Yet that’s exactly what the Sounders did on Saturday. Now, some of that is attributable to the game state, and the Revolution seemed more than happy to cede the possession battle, especially after grabbing an early goal.
It should at least be noted, though, that the Sounders were holding 78 percent of possession and completing 90 percent of their passes before New England scored. So, the Sounders deserve at least some credit for putting the Revs on their heels.
The Sounders ended up having four players attempt more than 90 passes and three players COMPLETED at least that many. Leading the way in terms of sheer volume was Cristian Roldan, who went 93-for-105 passing. The team also combined for 20 key passes (six more than they had in last week’s three-goal performance), with Clint Dempsey notching five for the second straight week.
New England, by contrast, did not have a single player attempt more than 33 passes, a figure eclipsed by eight Sounders, and their entire team completed only 192 passes.
If there was one stat that illustrated the frustrations, though, it was the rather alarming number of crosses. The Sounders put in 41 from open play, 15 of them from Nicolas Lodeiro and 12 more from Joevin Jones. Up until Saturday, the Sounders hadn’t crossed it more than 30 times in a game this year, and this was 12 more crosses than they had in their two previous three-goal outbursts COMBINED (they had 24 against the Galaxy and just five against the Red Bulls).
It should also be said that two of the goals came directly from crosses into the box and while the other wasn’t technically a cross, it was a ball from the wing into the box (Jones to Lodeiro). Which is to say that crossing isn’t in and of itself a bad strategy (and it did seem to wear down the defense), but it also suggests the Revolution were probably baiting the Sounders into this kind of play. For 74 minutes, it basically worked...
Dying by the counter
Having a ton of possession is all fine and good, but eventually every team gives up the ball. The important thing is what happens when they do.
The Sounders did an absolutely awful job of handling that part of the equation, and two of the Revolution’s goals came directly off the counter. The first was ultimately caused by Stefan Frei failing to save a shot on which he had both hands and had time to get his body behind. But Daigo Kobayashi was given way too much space to shoot in the first place. The third goal was even worse, as Gustav Svensson made the wrong decision to play the ball instead of retreating and ended up giving the Revs a 3-on-1 break.
Even beyond the goals, though, the Revs were able to generate far too many scoring opportunities from so little possession. Just look at this shot chart:
Of their 13 shots at least five or six were genuinely good looks and Frei had to make three very good saves to keep the game from getting really out of hand. Nine of their shots were taken from inside the penalty area. That’s just unacceptable.
Svensson will rightfully get a good share of the scorn, but the whole team was too slow to react in transition and too sloppy with the ball at critical times. It was Dempsey’s failure to clear the corner that set up the second goal and his giveaway that got the counter started on the third.
Completing 660 passes is great and all, but the ones you don’t compete can’t be allowed to be converted into so much trouble.
Someone needs to tell Sounders this isn’t crossbar challenge
Perhaps the single most annoying thing about Saturday’s game was that the Sounders beat Cody Cropper SIX times. On another day, even with all the errors, they probably win this game easily. Give Cropper some credit for his five saves, but he was not the reason the Sounders went into the final 16 minutes without a goal.
The culprit, of course, was the woodwork. The Sounders hit it three more times against the Revs. That makes 10 shots off the woodwork this year, the same number they had all of last year, more than twice as many as any other team so far this year and on pace to obliterate the record of 23.
No play encapsulated that more than Jordan Morris’ 64th minute chance. Already down 3-0, this could have been the moment where the comeback started. Dempsey put Morris in behind the defense with a perfectly weighted pass, Morris’ first touch was good and he slid his shot past Cropper only to have his shot ding off the post. Not only that, but Morris also appeared to re-injure his ankle, when Andrew Farrell gets all man and no ball on his tackle. Speaking of which, look at that play again and tell me it’s not a penalty and maybe even a red card.
This is one of those situations where Morris is probably hurt by being so honest. Yes, he goes down but there’s no dramatics, no appeals for a penalty. I can’t help but think that if this same thing happens to David Villa, the referee points to the spot.
Quote of the day
“The atmosphere was great, I was telling the guys. That place was like shaking, it was the loudest I've heard here ... It was unbelievable to hear it and to hear the support. Usually I'm a pretty laid back guy for the most part, so it's kinda fun to get riled up every once in awhile.” - Will Bruin
Stat of the day
5 — Jones was credited with two more assists, giving him five for 2017, tied for the league lead. If you include playoffs, he has eight assists in his past 14 games and 10 in his past 24 matches across all competitions.