With a severely reduced lineup, things weren’t looking good for the Seattle Sounders heading into the match against Columbus Crew SC. The Sounders gave up early goals thanks to midfield and defensive confusion, and that put them in a very difficult position to get anything out of the contest. Adjustments and substitutions came after halftime, but it proved to be too little, too late.
Seattle are now 4-6-4, -5 through 14 games played. That’s good for 1.14 PPG and 8th in the Western Conference.
Seattle Sounders FC 0 - Columbus Crew SC 3
Wednesday, May 31, 2017
Venue: MAPFRE Stadium
Referee: David Gantar
Assistants: Charles Morgante, Peter Manikowski
Fourth Official: Fotis Bazakos
Weather: 70 degrees and clear
CLB - Federico Higuaín (Héctor Jiménez) 10'
CLB - Justin Meram (Wil Trapp) 21'
CLB - Ola Kamara (Justin Meram, Federico Higuaín) 59'
SEA - Seyi Adekoya (caution) 3'
CLB - Jonathan Mensah (caution) 67'
LINEUPS & STATS
Seattle Sounders FC - Stefan Frei; Jordy Delem, Gustav Svensson, Tony Alfaro, Oniel Fisher (Brad Evans 64'); Alvaro Fernandez, Osvaldo Alonso - captain, Cristian Roldan, Joevin Jones (Román Torres 74'), Nicolas Lodeiro; Seyi Adekoya (Nouhou Tolo 64')
Substitutes not used: Tyler Miller, Zach Mathers, Aaron Kovar, Harry Shipp
Total shots: 6 (Lodeiro, 3)
Shots on goal: 3 (Three players, 1)
Fouls: 7 (Alonso/Adekoya, 3)
Offside: 1 (Fernandez, 1)
Corner-kicks: 6 (Lodeiro, 6)
Saves: 2 (Frei, 2)
Columbus Crew SC - Zack Steffen; Héctor Jiménez (Harrison Afful 69'), Josh Williams, Jonathan Mensah, Jukka Raitala; Wil Trapp, Artur, Ethan Finlay, Federico Higuaín (Alex Crognale 83'), Justin Meram (Kekuta Manneh 74'); Ola Kamara
Substitutes not used: Brad Stuve, Mohammed Abu, Adam Jahn, Niko Hansen
Total shots: 12 (Kamara, 5)
Shots on goal: 5 (Kamara/Meram, 2)
Fouls: 13 (Artur, 3)
Offside: 2 (Kamara, 2)
Corner-kicks: 3 (Higuain, 3)
Saves: 4 (Steffen, 4)
Seattle Sounders FC
Head Coach Brian Schmetzer
On his thoughts of tonight’s match
You can’t go away from home and give up soft goals. I thought the first couple goals we needed to make some plays defensively and it just didn’t happen so we couldn’t really recover after that. I think the guys responded okay the first 10 minutes of the second half but we couldn’t catch that last goal and then right when we’re trying to change the game they score the third goal and that pretty much did us in.
On his message to his team at halftime
Well I just wanted them to believe that they could get one. The idea is to get your team to believe that they can play. I thought some of the heads went down after a couple of mistakes and for guys that haven’t been playing a lot or guys that are getting their chance sometimes confidence is a big deal. So we’re trying to boost our confidence and get them through the game. But you know I credit Columbus [Crew SC] because they jumped on their opportunities and when they had their chances they were able to put them away.
On his halftime adjustments
I pushed Flaco (Alvaro Ferandez) up top to help Seyi [Adekoya] and we changed the lineup around just a little bit just to help the kid out and like I said it was okay the first 10 minutes or so, 10 or 15 minutes, and then like I said that third goal really killed us.
On his team’s next match
We’ll watch the film, we’ll do our diligence and get ready for Houston.
Midfielder Osvaldo Alonso
On what Columbus Crew SC did in the first half to make it difficult
They came out with intensity, that’s why they scored the first one. After that, they scored the second one and you walk away for a half, losing 2-0. You know it’s going to be so hard, it was very disappointing.
On why Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer said the first two goals were soft
It helped in the game, but we have to play better. We’re away from home and we have to find a way to play better. I think we didn’t play good enough today, I think we dropped too much today.
On playing against Federico Higuain
I think he’s a good player. He showed it today by scoring a goal, but we have to forget about what happened and watch film and focus on what happened.
Defender Brad Evans
Midfielder Cristian Roldan
On his team’s adjustments at halftime
Yeah but I don’t think we create enough chances you know obviously possession is nice—you get to rest a little bit because you’re not defending all the time. But you know we weren’t dangerous enough and I think that was a key component and we didn’t take our two chances when they came to us.
On Federico Higuain and Justin Meram’s performances
They’re in the soft areas, they turn really well, and they’re always dangerous. We weren’t prepared and we should’ve been more prepared for them and mentally we weren’t there and that’s just ourselves to blame.
On his team’s next match
Yeah I think that what we can learn is that this can’t happen again. Whether we are home or away, being down 3-0 it just can’t happen. Now it’s a matter of focusing onto Houston who is also very dangerous in the attack and we got to keep them at zero.
Columbus Crew SC
Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter
On his team’s resolve
So it was always going to be about the bounce back. How do we come back from a demoralizing defeat? We knew right away that the guys were different this week. The pride was hurt, but it was more than that. I think it was it was focus, it was focus and it was intensity in the training sessions. You saw today, it wasn’t perfect, but it was guys competing. And by the way, in the course it was pretty good soccer at times. I’m proud of the guys, I think we deserved a victory and we got it, so it was good.
On Justin Meram’s performance
Yeah. It is. I think he’s an important part of our group, he’s an important part of what we do, we believe in him 100 percent and for this team to be successful, Justin Meram has to be successful. The success of Justin is closely tied to team success. You see when we play well and win, he plays well. We’re looking for something from him today and he brought some special qualities at key moments.
On Justin Meram tying his career high for goals in a season
One of the things we challenged Justin with in the offseason was scoring more goals. We thought that he got into very good situations last year, we didn’t think he converted enough and the emphasis was on how do we get you scoring more goals, taking more chances and this year he’s done that. I think he still has a ways to go this year, he’s not finished and I hope to see more good things from him.
On his team’s defensive changes coming into this match
I’ve spoken to you guys before about the 18 and how difficult it is to choose 18 guys for a gameday roster and if guys are left off of the 18, it doesn’t necessarily mean that their standing has changed significantly within the team. Nico [Naess] is a perfect example of that. We’re not hiding the fact that we weren’t happy with the performance on Friday, we weren’t happy with his performance also, but him not being in the 18 was more of a reflection of what we are trying to do on this game rather than where he stands with the team.
On the success of his team’s lineup changes
I did. We made five changes from the last starting lineup and one thing that this group has done well is the next man stepping up. We’ve done that a number of times this season where we’ve played different lineups and different personnel and I think the guys have done a good job of stepping up when their number is called.
On Hector Jimenez’s assist
Hector [Jimenez] is a guy that when he plays on the limit is an excellent player in this league and that’s something that we’ve been encouraging them to do is be aggressive. His passing I thought was outstanding in the first half, his competing was outstanding. A play like that, you get a goal out of virtually nothing with a guy just competing and it was great to see from Hector. I think he played a great game.
On his team’s many different backline combinations
So part of that is on me in terms of mixing it up. I think the backline does want continuity. I think that backlines that play together more often perform better, so part of that is on us and what we’ve been doing. We’ve had a congested schedule at times, we’ve had injuries at times, we’ve had suspensions at times so that forced us to alter that back four. I think we are still looking for what I would call the A formation, we haven’t found that yet, but in the meantime guys have done a good job of stepping up when called upon. I’ll single out a guy like Josh Williams where we haven’t given up a goal with him on the field yet this year. He was brought in for a reason and he’s doing exactly that. I’ really happy with how that turned out and his attitude and effort.
On his team’s effort in the second half
I thought it was good. Having said that, I thought there were more goals for us in this game. I don’t know how you guys felt from the outside, but I think if we were more aggressive, more clinical we could have opened them up a number of times. Having said that, we do have another game on Saturday. In some way this is about getting guys conserving a little bit of energy so they can prepare for Saturday.
On Zack Steffen’s performance
He’s having, I think, a typical first year in the MLS as a goalkeeper. I would say better than that, slightly better than that in terms of there’s some games where you’re not sure of the goal that went in, but by in large he has come up big a number of times. What I really like about Zack [Steffen] is his calmness, he stays collected, he stays poised and for a young goalie to be that poised and calm is quite remarkable. I think today he was good, but more important than that is he is a calming influence on the group.
On his reaction to his team’s loss last week in Toronto
I think we were calm. Andrew [Erickson] was in Toronto, but he’ll tell you that I was pretty calm after the game. I think it was the fact that we asked them, we put them out of their comfort zone with how we were going to play in that game against the best team in the MLS at the time and we knew there were going to be potential repercussion from that. We wanted to analyze it, we weren’t happy with the result, we let up goals way too easily and at the end when they’re [Toronto FC] down a man to give up two goals is unacceptable. That’s the part that we analyzed and throughout the course of the season you have games like that and the goal was to minimize the amount of games you have.
On his team’s offensive efficiency in this match
Absolutely and I think also the way that the goals were scored, some good shooting, precision finishing. You need the quality guys to finish those chances, it goes a long way.
On his team’s season so far
The way I’d look at it and I think we talked about this before is this first part of the season has given the coaching staff an opportunity to see a lot of different players in a number of different positions, we’ve used a number of formations and it’s helpful and that will go a long way in the course of the season. What I can tell you about this group is their attitude is fantastic, their work rate is fantastic and their willingness to learn and to try to apply some of these tactical ideas is great. We are more than happy with where we are right now.
On where Federico Higuain stands all-time in Crew SC’s history
I think he was great tonight, I think he had an excellent game the way he was controlling the tempo of the game but still being dangerous, still making tailing passes, I thought there was a great balance between keeping possession and trying risky passes. I think that one ball that he gave to Ola [Kamara] in the second half, the longer ball from the left side of the field, I mean that’s a ball you guys should watch again on video. Not many people in the league can hit that pass and I thought that was great. When you look at as a coach, what you want from your designated player is for them to have extra quality and he has that. Some things that you hope for is that they have the work rate and the attitude as team players. You don’t always know that you’re going to get that and with him that’s what amazes me the most about him is his work rate, his team mentality, his team first mentality I think is exceptional. As far as I’m concerned he would go down as one of the better players, if not the best that ever played for [Crew SC], with another Argentine and a forward and maybe a defender.
On how his team prepares for its next match
Nutrition, sleep, training, light training, massage and then we go. The schedule is what it is, it’s not ideal but there’s no problem. We turn around, we go to Denver on Friday night, minimize the time at altitude and get there and try to win a game.
On the difficulty of playing in higher altitudes
I think that’s mental. There’s certainly some component to it, but I truly believe that a lot of it is in the head. There’s a point that you need to push through and you get fatigued and your mouth is dry and you get dehydrated, but you can push through that.
On Artur’s late return after halftime
He was on Brazilian time. He was actually sick at halftime, if you can believe that. We weren’t sure if he was going to come out, he was adamant that he was coming out to play and he made it in the nick of time, only a couple minutes late.
On Artur’s second half performance
He’s a warrior, he’s a fighter and you see that. A lot of guys would have stayed in the locker room and he came out and competed.
Forward Ola Kamara
On his team’s focus and response after their match in Toronto
I think for me the guys were super focused. Since we came back from that loss, it was devastating but now the energy in the group was so unbelievable before this game. I just knew the guys were focused, we came in and everybody gave 100 percent. So we had a clean sheet today, super focused, won 3-0 and that’s good against Seattle.
On missed chances and the difficulty of his goal
It was a little bit frustrating also I don’t know if I was in every play. It was frustrating but I tried to keep my focus on getting one for me and for my team and when I got that goal, it’s 3-0 and we know that we won the game.
On the quality of his team’s goals
I didn’t really know Justin [Meram] could score from that spot, it was unbelievable. Every goal was second post today. There were good quality shots today and that made a big difference for us.
Midfielder Ethan Finlay
On bouncing back from tough loss
To see that after such an embarrassing moment, and [for] our team to bounce back the way it did; it says something about the group, it says something about the resiliency of the guys. I’m proud of the guys tonight, I really am. I thought it was just a total performance, all around.
On his team’s clean sheet
Well, it was good. Coming into this game, we had known there were a couple of things defensively that we wanted to do with a little bit of a high press, and when they broke, getting into our shape quickly. I think we did that perfectly this evening. I told Zack [Steffen] that they were going to be requiring him to make one or two saves. It happened to be late against Alvaro [Fernandez] there, but he made some good plays earlier in the game: reading the play, coming out on set pieces, he was great. Those are little things that give guys confidence, and the guys in front of him. I think it was a great bounce-back performance.