SEATTLE — It was sometimes sloppy, unnecessarily nervy and not quite as convincing as most probably would have preferred, but the Seattle Sounders got the three points they needed all the same. In beating Orlando City 2-1 on Wednesday, the Sounders also moved to within two points of LAFC for the Supporters’ Shield lead.
There was at least one note of caution, though, as Jordan Morris went out with what was being called a strained hamstring in the 53rd minute.
- Orlando City came out surprisingly strong, controlling much of the first 10 minutes. But the Sounders slowly started to get hold of the game and it paid off with a 19th minute goal from Raúl Ruidíaz off a Brad Smith cross. It was Rudíaz’s first goal since scoring in the Sounders’ first three games of the season, with his most recent coming on March 16.
- The Sounders had a golden opportunity to extend their lead when Smith found Morris for a wide open header in first-half stoppage time. Morris’ header went straight down, ricocheting off the turf and over the crossbar.
- The next 20 or so minutes was mostly defined by dangerous possession but ultimately wasteful passing until Nicolás Lodeiro picked off a ball in the middle of the park, pushed forward and found Handwalla Bwana with a cross. Bwana kinda shinned it in, celebrating with a flip.
- Any momentum the Sounders may have had was halted when the referees took more than five minutes to review the play, checking to see if Lodeiro handled the ball before driving forward. Referee David Gantar ultimately decided that no offense occurred.
- Almost immediately after the restart, Chris Mueller got the ball at the top of the box and beat Stefan Frei to the near post. It was Orlando’s first shot on goal.
- The Sounders appeared to grab an insurance goal in the 93rd minute, but it was disallowed for a handball infraction near midfield.
Chasing down LAFC: It’s not the most likely scenario, but it’s at least mathematically possible that the Sounders could find themselves all alone at the top of the standings by the end of the week. That would require for LAFC to claim no more than one point from two games against FC Dallas — on Thursday and Sunday — and for the Sounders to beat Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia Union on Saturday, but there you go. Considering what the Sounders have already gone through this year in terms of injuries and everything else, that’s not a bad spot to be in.
Ruidíaz scoring again: There’s something about scoring an early goal that seems to be a little extra pep in the Ruidíaz’s step. The Sounders forward had not scored since the third game of the season — mostly due to missing four games with injury — but you could tell by the way he was moving that his confidence was definitely back. The Sounders will definitely need that over the next few games if they are to claim points and keep their Supporters’ Shield hopes alive.
Morris’ injury: The good news is that Brian Schmetzer didn’t seem to think that it was anything much more serious than a pull. The bad news is that even if that’s all it is, we might not see him until July. He’ll undergo an MRI on Monday, which could determine whether or not he’s called into the Gold Cup in a few weeks. A worst-case scenario is probably that Morris is too hurt to play in the Sounders’ next two games, but healthy enough to be called into international duty ahead of the June 1 match against FC Dallas.
He said what?!?
Brian Schmetzer didn't see Handwalla Bwana's Oba flip after his goal: "Did he really do an Oba flip? ...If he does that and he gets injured I'm gonna kill him."— Ari Liljenwall (@AriLiljenwall) May 16, 2019
Bwana said he'll just have to come up with something new.
Did you see that?!?
This Cristian Roldan fella is pretty good at soccer. pic.twitter.com/XQm2AOv0HW— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) May 16, 2019
One stat to tell the tale
73 — The Sounders have now claimed 73 points in their last 34 regular-season matches. Not bad. Not bad at all.