Going winless during the preseason is obviously less than ideal. Piling up victories is, after all, a pretty great way to build confidence ahead of the season. That the Seattle Sounders failed to hold a 2-0 lead, again, and were forced to settle for a 2-2 tie with the San Jose Earthquakes to complete a 0-5-1 preseason does highlight a few concerns.
But for all the legitimate consternation over a defense that failed to register a single shutout, I’m a bit more inclined to see more overall positives. Here were some key takeaways from the final warmup before next week’s season opener:
JMo is back
We’ve been seeing glimpses of the old Jordan Morris throughout the preseason. But no one player better encapsulated the potential he represents than the Sounders’ first goal. It came on a counter-attack with Morris controlling a Kelvin Leerdam header with his knee and a one-touch pass to Victor Rodriguez. The Spaniard then put Morris into space along the sideline and he was off to the races.
When Morris receives the pass, there are five defenders who are plausibly in position to break up the play. But Morris outraces everyone to create an angle by getting to the endline and finding Rodriguez with a perfectly placed cutback pass. Rodriguez buries the shot, but this was a goal created almost entirely by Morris.
Longer clip of Sounders' goal. Jordan Morris is very good at running fast and other soccer things. pic.twitter.com/A8rnfULEwd— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) February 23, 2019
VRod is ready to go
Truth be told, though, if there was a Sounders Player of the Game, it was probably Rodriguez. In addition to the opener, Rodriguez also had the Sounders’ second goal. It wasn’t as smooth of a play — he was basically in the right place at the right time off a rebound — but he did do most of the hard work to create it by pantsing Nick Lima in the corner before finding Morris with his own cutback.
VRod nets his second. Definitely offside, but it still counts. pic.twitter.com/jstn0ghhel— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) February 23, 2019
Rodriguez was consistently active in this game and seems to be providing a nice compliment to Morris on the opposite wing.
There are concerns about the defense
Given that this is the same defense that was one of the league’s best last year, I don’t think anyone should be freaking out, but they didn’t post a shutout in any of their six preseason games. It’s notable that the first team defense only played parts of three games together and both the goals they surrendered in this one were off penalties — one of which looked a bit soft and the other which might have been offside — but let’s not pretend as if they ever looked dominant.
Kelvin Leerdam, in particular, has not looked strong in any of his appearances and the experiment of flopping Chad Marshall and Kim Kee-hee didn’t go as well as hoped. Just to add another wrinkle, Brad Smith had to leave this game with some sort of injury. Head coach Brian Schmetzer called it “precautionary,” but none of this helps with confidence.
All of which is to say, there are still some wrinkles that need ironing. Let’s hope that gets sorted before Saturday.