The Sounders are back after an international break, and I’m back from a long vacation. It wasn’t the prettiest nor was it pleasant, but Seattle comes away from Vancouver with 1 point. Only time will tell whether or not it’s a point earned or two points dropped. Had that match ended after the 85th minute, I would have been annoyed. But after the 97th minute? I feel relieved. This is a really weird sport.
The VAR system
Kim makes a WORLD CLASS stop here. Would be cruel to not overturn this. pic.twitter.com/kF2ISKP3Yw— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) March 31, 2019
Look, that ending was insanely nerve wracking and we were all cursing the referee for making the call that he did, but based on the way the play developed, it’s completely understandable how he makes that call from very far away. But you know what? That’s exactly why we have Video Assistant Referee. The system worked the way it was supposed to, even if our nerves were on the line.
Take a second and scroll up to watch that replay again. Watch it? Great. Scroll up again to watch it one more time. Kim played it perfectly. Sure, it’ll be skewed a bit because it was initially called a penalty, but that is some of the best defending you’ll ever see on display. Forces his man inside at first so Frei can make a save and then darts across the box to make a block.
Stefan Frei is so good. pic.twitter.com/EvQH38YN9p— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) March 31, 2019
Seriously, as someone who has to come up with things to write about, it’s kind of annoying how good Stefan Frei is. There’s really no doubting that the Sounders were the better team in the second half, but Vancouver came up with some very good chances (more on that in a bit). One problem for them, though — they had to face Frei in goal.
It’s possible that we might be under appreciating how good Frei is. Let’s make sure that’s not the case.
Playing against Marc Dos Santos for years to come
During the match I saw a lot of Seattle fans remark about how negative Vancouver was playing. Vancouver spent most of the first 60 minutes of the game with 9 or 10 men behind the ball, doing whatever they could to disrupt the Sounders attack, and hoping to catch a counter attack here and there.
And you know what? It worked. What I saw from Vancouver was something I saw for the first time from them in a long, long time. They have a manager who finally understands his team and how they need to set up against a team that’s clearly better than them. Carl Robinson was a fraud. Marc Dos Santos is not.
Vancouver moved through the gears of the game extremely well, and towards the end of the game they had two of the best chances to score despite being the lesser of the two teams. I, for one, am grateful that we don’t have to play in Vancouver again this year, playoffs notwithstanding.
Jordan Morris, Raúl Ruidíaz, and The Attack™
Over the course of an entire MLS regular season, I suppose you’re allowed to have a few matches that just don’t go your way. The reason why Ruidíaz was signed was so when that one chance falls to him, he puts in in the back of the net. Well, last night he had three decent looks at net and walked away without a goal.
We’ve obviously seen the added dynamism Morris brings to Seattle’s attack. The Whitecaps neutralized that effectively, and never really gave Morris an opportunity to get on the end of any runs.
The rest of the attack? I suppose you could look at Nicolas Lodeiro, Victor Rodriguez, and the fullbacks (Brad Smith and Kelvin Leerdam) and reach a conclusion that they were poor. But, that’s okay. The Sounders were never going to blow away every team and post a 34-0-0 record over the course of the season. I fully expect the coaching staff to address the staleness in attack. I still think the Sounders created enough last night to score at least once, but they didn’t, so here I am looking like an idiot.
Hey, at least Real Salt Lake is known to give up a few goals.
Records are meant to not be broken
Technically speaking, the draw against Vancouver gives Seattle their best ever 4-game MLS regular season start. Feels like a bit of a dud, doesn’t it? Winning four in a row to start the season would’ve be neat, but four unbeaten is still admirable. The next five matches are rather favorable and the Sounders can continue to have a blistering start to the season.
Ruidíaz entered this match having scored in 6 straight MLS regular season matches, and 8 straight matches overall. Since MLS is the weirdest league in the world, their records are often qualified by “regular season only” type things. The MLS record for consecutive matches with a goal in the MLS regular season is 8, set by Diego Valeri in his MLS MVP winning 2017 season. Looks like Raúl will need to start his streak again against RSL.
Now it’s your time to shine. Who are your Winners & Losers from this match?