SEATTLE — It may just be one game, but the Seattle Sounders did just about everything they possibly could to flip the slow-start narrative. Despite giving up an early goal to expansion FC Cincinnati, the Sounders dominated throughout and ended up with a 4-1 win on Saturday. It was the first time they’d won a season-opener since 2015 and gives them just their second win in March since the start of the 2016 season.
It didn’t exactly start that way, though. After Raúl Ruidíaz hit the post off of an inch-perfect Cristian Roldan cross, FC Cincinnati stormed ahead with an absolutely amazing strike from Leonardo Bertone and threatened to grab a 2-0 lead on Alvas Powell’s 40-yard blast that went just wide.
The Sounders settled down, though, and equalized on Kelvin Leerdam’s second-ever Sounders goal in the 27th minute and went into halftime with a 3-1 lead after a pair of Jordan Morris strikes.
Morris’ brace will rightfully be the thing that gets a lot of headlines, but there was a lot to feel positive about from Kelvin Leerdam’s opener to the steady dominance of Nicolas Lodeiro and Victor Rodriguez to the continued goal-scoring ways of Raúl Ruidíaz. By the end of it, the Sounders had out shot FC Cincinnati 16-2 from inside the penalty area and completed nearly twice as many passes in the final third.
Morris is back: Even before he scored his first-half brace, Morris’ return was almost destined to be one of today’s talking points. That he ended up being the game’s star only made it easier. Take nothing away from Morris’ first-ever home brace, but even without bagging two goals he simply looked like a player who spent the last 18 months getting fit and figuring out some of the game’s nuances. There was a previously unseen level of tactical awareness with the way he moved into open space and picked out teammates’ runs. The explosive speed was just as good as it ever was and, just for good measure, he managed to put in a couple nice left-footed crosses and score one of his goals with his off foot.
No LAFC redux: Through the first 15 minutes, things were looking all too familiar. Despite dominating, the Sounders found themselves down 1-0 after a Bertone volley from 22 yards out. But unlike the LAFC match, the Sounders were able to answer the expansion team’s early wonderstrike with an equalizer relatively quickly when Leerdam put away Nicolas Lodeiro’s mishandled cross. The Sounders never looked back from there, dominating possession and filling up the shot chart. If anything, they’ll likely be kicking themselves for not scoring a few more.
Hammering a weak point: Relatively early on, the Sounders seemed to identify a soft spot in the Cincinnati defense — right back Alvas Powell — and attacked it relentlessly. In addition to all three of the Sounders first-half goals starting from the left side, they had two more high-quality chances from that spot early in the second half. FCC coaches finally pulled Powell in the 86th minute after he was beaten again by Rodriguez, as the left midfielder put in a cross that Ruidiaz nearly finished.
Did you see that?!?
There were a lot of impressive moments to come out of this game, but the one that really grabbed our attention was a play about midway through the second half when Morris recovered a ball in the defensive third and hit a 50-yard switch on a dime to Victor Rodriguez near midfield. Don’t think we’ve ever seen that sort of pass from Morris before.
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