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Sounders vs. LAFC, recap: Sometimes a tie feels really good

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Sounders played 72 minutes down a man and finished with nine.

Max Aquino/Sounder at Heart

SEATTLE — It definitely didn’t come the way they had hoped, but the Seattle Sounders have to be relieved after claiming a point and not losing further ground to Los Angeles FC in the Western Conference standings by securing a 1-1 tie after playing down a man for 72 minutes on Sunday. Just for good measure, they were forced to play several minutes of stoppage time down to nine men after Kelvin Leerdam was sent off for a DOGSO violation.

LAFC can rightly call themselves the best team in the league at this point, yet the Sounders showed life and a level of determination to survive what could have been an ugly result. They’re once again going to be struggling to field a full 18 next week against Minnesota United, though, after the two reds in addition to the six players they were missing due to injury in this game.

Key moments

  • Sounders were missing six of their 14 most-used players, most notably Chad Marshall who was held out with “knee inflammation.” They had so many injuries that their gameday roster only featured 11 players, including 15-year-old Danny Levya. Of the six bench players, only one of them had played any minutes this season.
  • Just about 50 seconds into the game, Jordan Morris was able to intercept a poor back pass by Eddie Segura and raced in for a 1-v-1 that he finished coolly with his left foot. It ended a five-game goalless drought for Morris.
  • The lead didn’t last long. Just a few minutes later, Diego Rossi got behind Kelvin Leerdam on the wing and raced toward the byline. Stefan Frei couldn’t quite cut out the cross through the box and Brad Smith seemed to lose track of Carlos Vela, who easily finished the chance at the back post.
  • It got worse. In the 18th minute, a shoving match between Mark-Anthony Kaye and Cristian Roldan resulted in Roldan receiving his first-ever red card after appearing to inadvertently slap Eduard Atuesta, who hit the ground writhing in supposed pain. Kaye was ultimately given a yellow card for his part in the incident.
  • The Sounders got their first big break of the game in the 48th minute when Christian Ramirez missed an open shot from about two yards out. The shot was valued as .85 xG, which surely ranks it as among the highest value chances to not be converted.
  • The Sounders had a golden chance to score their own winner in the 91st minute when Brad Smith got around his defender and raced into the box. He was then able to chop the ball past Tyler Miller and appeared to have a chance on goal. But before he or Morris could get there, Latif Blessing was able to knock the ball away.
  • On the ensuing counter-attack, Leerdam took out Diego Rossi at the edge of the penalty area. Referee Ted Unkel initially called it a penalty, only to pull it back and then went to VAR to determine a red-card offense. He ruled that Leerdam effectively denied a goal-scoring opportunity.

Talking points

One point gained: While their tie against the Earthquakes was seen as two points dropped, the mood in the locker room seemed to be more that this was one-point gained. That probably wasn’t the mentality going into the game, but the equation had to change considerably after Roldan’s early red card. At that point, the Sounders moved into an obvious bunker-and-counter mentality and had two decent chances to pull out all three points: Nicolas Lodeiro’s half volley in the 75th minute and Smith’s half-chance in stoppage time.

Referee decisions: There’s going to be a lot of discussion about Unkel’s decision to red card Roldan and to issue Kaye a yellow. In a written comment, Unkel said he determined that Roldan’s strike to Atuesta’s face was “deliberate” and “that the force was more than negligible.” Considering Atuesta confronted Roldan from behind and that Roldan seemed to be flailing his arms after receiving a shove to the chest, that seems like a highly questionable interpretation. If the determination had been that hands to the face is simply an automatic red card, there probably isn’t much room for appeal. But Unkel seems to be almost inviting the Sounders to at least try their luck, as it’s very hard to see any level of intent on Roldan’s part.

Looking ahead: The Sounders only had 17 healthy bodies available for this game and lost two more. There’s at least hope that some of the injured players could return by the Minnesota United game, but we’re almost sure to see the likes of Jordy Delem, Alex Roldan and one of Saad Abdul-Salaam or Henry Wingo getting significant minutes. Danny Leyva making his MLS debut doesn’t seem remotely out of the questions.

Did you see that?!?!

This is how close the Sounders came to pulling out all three points. If Morris hadn’t been completely gassed at this point, he likely puts it away.

Quote of the Day

One stat to tell the tale

57.5 — This was not a pretty performance by the Sounders and nothing probably encapsulates that better than their 57.5 passing percentage. They only even attempted 247 passes, which means they completed 142 passes. Finding records for that sort of thing isn’t very easy, but that’s almost certainly the fewest they’ve ever completed at home.

Poll

Man of the match

This poll is closed

  • 44%
    Brad Smith
    (410 votes)
  • 29%
    Jordan Morris
    (275 votes)
  • 21%
    Roman Torres
    (202 votes)
  • 3%
    Handwalla Bwana
    (36 votes)
923 votes total Vote Now