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Talking points: Too little, too late

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Sounders failed to overcome early deficit for second match in a row.

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at FC Dallas Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Sounders gave up two goals in a match where they only officially conceded one shot on target. On paper, that may be enough to say the team got unlucky. In reality, Seattle gave up far too much possession and too many chances, particularly in the first half, to have many complaints. A second half switch to put two strikers up top made the game much more competitive, as Raul Ruidiaz would go on to bag a somewhat fortunate goal of his own. In the end though, the lackluster first half proved too much to overcome for the second straight week.

Key moments

  • The match got off to a slow start with only two shots occurring in the first 20 minutes. Both of those shots came from FC Dallas, which was emblematic of how the home team, while not particularly sharp in the final third, dominated possession throughout the opening stages.
  • Dallas created their most dangerous scoring chance from the first quarter of the game in the 22nd minute, when the Sounders committed a bad turnover in their own half that led to an uncontested shot from Bryan Acosta. The sloppy give away was one of many for the rave green in the first half.
  • The Sounders finally got on the box score in the 26th minute when Xavier Arreaga showed off an impressive vertical and good power on a header towards goal off a back post Harry Shipp corner. The set piece chance marked the Sounders only clear opportunity to score in the first half.
  • FC Dallas finally made the Sounders pay for giving up too much of the ball when Michael Barrios eluded Alex Roldan and Kelvin Leerdam down the left flank before delivering a back post cross to Ryan Hollingshead, who then headed the ball back across the frame of the goal. Arreaga tried to head the Hollingshead service out for a corner but instead redirected the ball past Stefan Frei for an own goal.
  • The Sounders conceded a second own goal five minutes later that started when Barrios freed himself down the flank by cheekily slipping past Alex Roldan on a set play taken short. Barrios whipped in another good ball, this time near post and on the ground, that Brad Smith redirected into the Sounders net. The play was a tough moment for Roldan, who up until that point had provided good defensive presence and solid passing in his second start of the year.
  • Will Bruin subbed in for Gustav Svensson at half time and immediately changed the complexion of the match by offering the Sounders good hold up play when Dallas’s press forced them to play long. Seattle claimed more that 70% possession in the first 10 minutes of the second half and began to assert their will on the game from that point forward.
  • In the 65th minute, the Sounders got their reward for clawing back into the match. Alex Roldan started the play by smartly intercepting an FC Dallas pass in the attacking half. Roldan then played Bruin, who supplied Ruidiaz with a cheeky back heel pass to set the Peruvian up outside the box. Ruidiaz made one move and fired off a shot that deflected off an FC Dallas defender before looping into the upper seven.
  • Ruidiaz had a golden chance to bag a second and tie up the match in the 73rd minute when he chased down a scuffed Matt Hedges clearance and found himself alone in the FC Dallas box. Unfortunately, the striker’s first touch was poor and pushed him wide of the goal, allowing the Dallas defenders time to get back into the play.
  • After the Ruidiaz chance, Dallas battened down the hatches and allowed very little from the Sounders going forward. In fact, Dallas was probably unlucky to not nab a third goal after numerous counter attacks got in behind the Sounders back line late in the match.

Talking Points

The strike partnership of Raul Ruidiaz and Will Bruin looked dangerous. When Bruin came on at half time, he provided great hold up play that allowed the Sounders to bypass Dallas’s press with the long ball. The swimming bear won three aerial duels, helping Seattle get out of their own half and allowing Ruidiaz more freedom to find the ball in different areas of the field. With Bruin occupying the Dallas centerbacks via physical hold up play, Ruidiaz found the ball much more in the second half, registering twice as many touches as he did in the first half.

Speaking of tactical flexibility, the second half found the Sounders swapping two possession oriented, central leaning wingers in Harry Smith and Alex Roldan for two faster, wider leaning wingers in Handwalla Bwana and Joevin Jones. The move played out well as the Sounders were able to play more direct and stretch Dallas out of position. When the full squad returns later in the summer, Schmetzer will have a plethora of tactical options to choose from. While all those choices will make the Sounders a dangerous second half team, they must do better executing their “Plan A” if they hope to make noise in the post season.

This is not last year’s defense. While the Sounders 1.27 goals allowed per match this year is a respectable mark, it’s not quite up to last year’s 1.15 goals allowed per match. More concerning than the numbers is the general feeling of a lack of cohesion across the backline. The Sounders back line tends to sit deep and very narrow, which they did once again against FC Dallas. That strategy works well when you trust your backline to win most crosses, but when the team is struggling to pick up marks in the box, it allows for soft goals. Getting more games under Arreaga’s belt should help with this.

Cristian Roldan at the 10 didn’t work. Chalk it up to rust; chalk it up to fielding back-up wingers; chalk it up to playing with no natural 8 to help the team transition back to front; no matter what the result is the same: 45% pass completion rate on 11 touches. Roldan looked much more comfortable when he slid back to his number 8 role in the second half. Given similar personnel options in the future, a two forward set or playing Shipp at the 10 may yield better results.

Did you see that?!?

Scenes from the lightning storm that delayed the game.

One stat to tell the tale

67% — The Sounders central midfielders only completed two-thirds of their passes in the first half. That’s not good enough to win many soccer games, particularly when starting possession oriented wingers.

Poll

Sounders Man of the Match

This poll is closed

  • 23%
    Will Bruin
    (90 votes)
  • 17%
    Roman Torres
    (66 votes)
  • 6%
    Jordy Delem
    (24 votes)
  • 53%
    Raul Ruidiaz
    (203 votes)
383 votes total Vote Now