In the final preseason match before the season opens against Santa Tecla in the CONCACAF Champions League, the Sounders deployed a lineup that earned mixed reviews against USL side Sacramento Republic, but ultimately came out victorious 3-1.
The Sounders got off to the perfect start, with Jordan Morris scoring in the second minute of the match off a free kick by Nicolas Lodeiro. Henry Wingo set the wheels of the first goal in motion by pressuring a Sacramento defender, which led to a poor giveaway and a lovely ball to Lodeiro, who, rather than taking a one-touch shot, chose to try and feed the ball into the box. The resulting scrum led to Lodeiro getting the ball back and subsequently being fouled outside the box. Lodeiro chipped the set piece into the box, where it deflected off a Sacarmento defender and fell at the feet of Morris, who slotted it into the upper half of the net from point blank range.
Sacramento nearly answered eight minutes later when a shot from outside the box sailed directly into the arms of Frei. A Sacramento corner two minutes later found Marshall beat to the ball and a shot off the head of a Sacramento attacker sent wide of Frei’s goal. Sacramento’s best chance came in the 24th minute, with Frei parrying away a low cross to the far post.
In the 28th minute, Lodeiro and Morris worked a nice combination, setting up Lodeiro with the opportunity to send a clean, arcing cross to the far post where an awaiting Wingo calmly rocketed a side volley into the net. It was a lovely finish to a lovely build up.
The second half started off much like the first, though unfortunately for the Sounders, it was Sacramento finding the back of the net less than two minutes into the half. Ugly defending allowed a cross from the left side, and Sacramento forward Christian Eissele beat Tony Alfaro to the ball and headed it home to the near post.
Stefan Frei came up with a big save in the 75th minute, followed soon after by a clever give-and-go in the box between Morris and substitute Seyi Adekoya, with Morris finishing a one-touch shot from about 12 yards out.
There were plenty of positives to take from this match, but definitely some major questions raised heading into the start of the season. The Sounders used their usual 4-2-3-1 formation, with Morris as the point of attack. Lodeiro was, as expected, the focal point of the Sounders offensive creativity.
The Sounders attack looked good keeping pressure on Sacramento’s defenders and were able to punish mistakes made by the USL side. They had moments of quick, effective combination play, with solid movement off the ball in the attacking third.
One of the most positive takeaways from this match was the play of Wingo. He did well to keep pressure on the Sacramento defenders and was key in the attack, demonstrating that he plans on doing more than just fighting for first team minutes this season.
Morris came away with two goals, which is great for his confidence moving forward. Adekoya looked good coming on as a late substitute, although the final 20-30’ of the match found the Sounders up against a lineup of Sacramento substitutes consisting mainly of their young Academy players.
Where the Sounders struggled for much of the night was in the midfield and along the backline. There were way too many giveaways in the midfield, which seemed a bit out of character for a team led by Lodeiro. Christian Roldan was rather silent in the attack, sitting back in a more defensive role, but absent for much of the buildup, especially in the first half.
The backline looked good for the first 15-20 minutes, but seemed disjointed at times, leading to several critical saves by Frei. There are definitely more questions than answers when it comes to the back line. Chad Marshall was dependable as usual, but was uncharacteristically beat to the ball on a header that nearly led to a goal by Sacramento in the 12th minute.
For the most part, Jordan McCrary looked good at right back in place of the injured Kelvin Leerdam, but Alfaro seemed to struggle to keep up with Chad Marshall in central defense. Left back Waylon Francis had some nice moments, but those were mostly overshadowed by some spotty defending and slow decision-making in the final third.
Overall, the Sounders were able to punish Sacramento for the mistakes they made. They were fortunate not to have their own mishaps turn into more goals against them.
4-2-3-1 (l-r): Frei; Francis, Alfaro, Marshall, McCrary; Roldan, Delem; Shipp (Adekoya 62’), Lodeiro, Wingo; Morris.
2’ — Morris got the Sounders off to a fast start, collecting a missed clearance off a Nicolas Lodeiro free kick and slotting it off the underside of the crossbar from close range.
Not a bad way to start. pic.twitter.com/pSXmumqmZz— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) February 16, 2018
28’ — Henry Wingo scored the goal of his life, taking a Lodeiro cross off a full volley from about 10 yards out.
Have a hit @henry_wingo !!!! pic.twitter.com/yX9TVn3Jl0— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) February 16, 2018
47’ — Republic pull one back at the start of the second half when a pair Sounders defenders badly misplayed a cross. Christian Eissele was credited with the goal, but it may have been an own-goal.
78’ — Morris puts the game away, working a nice give-and-go with Seyi Adekoya. Morris crushed his shot from about 12 yards out.
That's two for @JmoSmooth13. This one off an assist from @seyimyname. pic.twitter.com/NCiLIfUVHw— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) February 16, 2018
Man of Match Poll
Man of Match: Sounders vs Sacramento
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