SEATTLE – Stop when this starts to get familiar. The Seattle Sounders were reduced to 10 men, then gave up a goal on a defensive miscue in a 1-0 home loss to the Montreal Impact at CenturyLink Field Saturday. Kelvin Leerdam, who was dismissed by referee Ismail Elfath in the 40th minute, became the third Sounder sent off in three league matches this season.
Kelvin Leerdam lost his head and struck Daniel Lovitz in the face, earning a red card for violent conduct. Elfath caught the incident on VAR after Edvin Jurisevic hailed him via microphone. Leerdam needs to know better than to swing at another player—especially with the cameras watching. Still, the incident demonstrated that the process of adjusting to video-reviewed matches continues and is still in need of refinement. There was general confusion in the stadium and on the broadcast about what was being reviewed, something that would be greatly improved if referees were mic’d and stadium jumbotrons showed the precise feeds that were being examined. In rugby, the refs actually use the jumbotron to review the incident while conversing with the video assistant. While rugby refs don’t always get the calls right, at least everyone has a TMO incident (Television Match Official) on the same page, and VAR may have to do the same.
Late set pieces
Despite going down a man, Seattle’s best chances came down the stretch in the second half thanks to a series of set pieces. Balls ricocheted off the heads of Chad Marshall, Gustav Svensson, and even Cristian Roldan. Promising second balls fell to what seemed like every Sounder on the pitch, but none could put a ball beyond Montreal keeper Evan Bush.
-The common saying is that once a team is reduced to 10 men, you might as well throw the game film out the window. Since that would result in throwing out 107 of the most recent 180 minutes of Sounders soccer, however, we can at least try to glean some offensive notes from Seattle’s time down a man. Bizarrely, Seattle managed nine shots (four on target) in the second half, against three (zero on target) while they were playing with a full contingent. Obviously, playing with fewer than 11 people is not a recipe for winning matches, but Seattle at least seems to still have the capability to challenge teams, if they can keep everyone on the field.
-Nicolas Lodeiro, now recovered from his midfoot sprain, was every bit as lethal as the Sounders have come to expect from the Uruguayan. Given a little more time to reacclimate and provided he remains healthy, Lodeiro will likely produce another strong campaign in 2018.
-No one got hurt. Given how injury-plagued Seattle has been to start the year, that’s got to count for something.
-Once again, Seattle got killed by a low cross coming from inside the area. The whole sequence was a mess, between Waylon Francis’ blocked clearance, Roman Torres’ lunge for the ball, and the failure to mark Jeisson Vargas right outside the six-yard box. It was an unsettled situation, but Seattle has traditionally seemed like a stronger defensive team than the early-season breakdowns imply.
-Seattle managed 12 shots, four on target. Again, it’s difficult to draw many certain conclusions with the game upended by Leerdam’s dismissal, but a number of those chances were ones where a better-placed shot would have brought the 39,469 in attendance to their feet in celebration. Call it snake-bit, call it the yips, but if the Sounders don’t regain their composure in front of goal, there may be many a Nativo flying the friendly skies at the Clink.
Man of the Match:
Who was your man of the match?
This poll is closed
Sounders: Frei, Francis (Nouhou 84), Marshall, Torres, Leerdam, Cristian Roldan, Svensson, Bwana (Alex Roldan 74), Lodeiro, Wolff (McCrary HT), Bruin
Montreal: Bush, Lovitz, Raitala, Fanni, Cabrera, Taider, Piette, Krolicki (Silva 81), Duvall, Vargas (Jackson-Hamel 72), Piatti
Vargas 60 (Piatti)