SEATTLE — That certainly could have gone better. Just days after a feel-good win in CONCACAF Champions League, the Seattle Sounders gave up an early goal, and despite dominating just about every statistical area couldn’t score one themselves. They lost 1-0 on Sunday to a Los Angeles FC side that was playing their first-ever official match, and surrendered the record for fastest goal for a MLS expansion team in history.
Back in 2009, Fredy Montero got the Sounders’ MLS existence started in glorious fashion by scoring in the 12th minute to pace a 3-0 win over the New York Red Bulls. That had stood as the MLS record for fastest goal for an expansion team ever since ... until Sunday. After collecting a perfect ball from Carlos Vela near the top of the penalty area, Diego Rossi hit a first-time shot perfectly. The goal was the culmination of a blazing start for LAFC that also saw them hit the post in the 2nd minute. LAFC didn’t threaten much after that, but it turned out they didn’t need to.
That sequence around Bruin’s disallowed goal
There was a point around the 65th minute when an equalizer was starting to feel inevitable. Handwalla Bwana had hit a shot that deflected off the crossbar moments after entering, and over the course of three minutes the Sounders fired off six shots and took five corners. At one point, it really did look like they had equalized only to see Will Bruin (correctly) ruled offside. During that stretch, Tyler Miller also came up with a massive stop of a Cristian Roldan header. It was as hectic and wild as I can remember a sequence at CenturyLink Field feeling. But not scoring during that sequence also seemed to tell the story of the day, as the Sounders did everything right but put the ball in the net.
Yeah, he was definitely off. pic.twitter.com/MILcePTG4u— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) March 4, 2018
- It can often feel almost condescending when a professional soccer coach compliments his players by noting they gave a solid effort. But I’m inclined to give Brian Schmetzer a bit of a pass here as I think the Sounders legitimately did a lot right in terms of process. They deserve to be called out for a poor start and taking a good 20 minutes to figure out how to contain Rossi on the left wing (I’ll get there), but offensively I’m not sure what else you could ask of them. Of their 22 shots, 14 were from inside the penalty area and they forced Miller into seven saves, which doesn’t even include the amazing block that Laurent Ciman made on Harry Shipp’s close-range attempt. Their xG was about 1.5 more than LAFC’s. Sometimes, the breaks just don’t go your way.
- I have no idea how much Bwana will end up playing, but in his 26 minutes, he showed plenty. His second touch was a shot that hit off the crossbar and he was confident and smooth throughout. I'm definitely excited about watching this kid grow.
- Magnus Wolff Eikrem again looked very good and nothing I saw on Sunday swayed me away from thinking he’s going to have an outstanding season. He’s so clean on the ball and never seems to lose possession. Mainly, I’m just dying to see what he looks like when the Sounders have their full complement of attackers.
- I know a lot of people were a bit put off by the lineup, specifically that Schmetzer admitted to resting some players to make sure they were fit for Wednesday’s CCL quarterfinal against Chivas. I get it — people want to see their team win at home. But truth be told, this was a lineup that still should have won and played well enough to win, but just didn’t. If I can choose which game I want to see us as close to full strength, it’s in the elimination tournament rather than in the first game of a 34-game season.
- Bruin had a solid penalty shout near the end of the first half, but I’ll just leave this here and let you decide how mad you want to be about it.
Wasn't as hard as a shove, but it definitely looked like a foul. pic.twitter.com/sqBGmqFceC— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) March 4, 2018
- None of the defenders remotely covered themselves in glory, but Tony Alfaro’s ejection fairly summed up his day. His first yellow card came in the 79th minute on a sequence that saw him slickly win the ball back in LAFC’s half, only to immediately give it back with a poor pass and then he was basically forced to break up the counter with a professional foul. Then four minutes later, he completely whiffed on a tackle and got nothing but man to earn his second yellow and walking papers.
- Like I said, though, the whole defense was ... rough, especially in the first 20 minutes. Nouhou totally got caught ignoring his man when Latif Blessing hit the post in the 2nd minute and Jordy Delem was getting chewed up by Rossi both before and after the goal on which he let his man get goalside. Roman Torres also had a few forgettable moments, and got absolutely destroyed by Vela at one point in the first half. Let’s just hope we never see this particular quartet playing together again.
- So that’s why the Sounders’ home shutout streak was stopped at 615 minutes and why they lost at home for the first time in 15 matches, all while falling to 5-4-0 all time when they open the season at home.
Sounders: Frei; Nouhou, Alfaro, Torres (Wolff 45), Delem (Neagle 80); Svensson, Roldan; Shipp (Bwana 64), Lodeiro, Wingo; Bruin.
LAFC: Miller; Mountinho, Ciman, Jakovic, Beitashour; Kaye, Feilhaber; Blessing, Rossi (Harvey 89), Vela; Urena (Blackmon 80).
Rossi 11’ (Vela)
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