Through 70 minutes, the Sounders had accomplished exactly what Brian Schmezter had outlined as a winning strategy ahead of the match. They’d stayed defensively compact, allowed only one shot on target, and utilized their superior quality in the attacking phase to create a goal out of limited opportunities. The team even looked destined to add a second as Montreal opened themselves up to the counter and Joevin Jones found himself in increasing space as the match wore on. In the end though, Seattle’s lack of killer instinct in the final third became Montreal’s lifeline, and Saphir Taider grabbed that lifeline with both hands, winning a penalty, scoring a penalty and then scoring the game-winner only four minutes later.
- The match started slow. Really slow. As with their other matches of the road trip, the Sounders focused on staying compact defensively and keeping play in front of them. But unlike Philadelphia, Kansas City, and Dallas, Montreal seemed content to keep possession in the back rather than poke and prod at Seattle’s defensive block. The result? Only two shots from both teams combined in the first half.
- Though they failed to register a shot in the first 45, the Sounders did create a few half-chances and generally looked to have more bite in their attack. The first of those chances came in the 32nd minute, when Harry Shipp and Will Bruin combined to nearly set Victor Rodriguez free in the box. The second came from Handwalla Bwana beating his defender one v one in the 42nd minute to free himself down the wing. His cross sailed out of play.
- The second half saw an uptick in action. Though Seattle had the better of the play in the half’s early stages, it was Montreal who should have gone ahead when Maxi Urruti failed to convert an open look from just outside the six-yard box.
- The Sounders punished Montreal for failing to convert when Harry Shipp drew a penalty off a reckless challenge from Victor Cabrera only a few minutes later. The play came from of a combination between Shipp, Rodrgiuez, and Bruin that was similar to the one that had nearly given them the Sounders the lead in the first half.
- As Montreal opened up looking for the equalizer, Joevin Jones found himself with a golden opportunity to put the game out of reach when Alex Roldan slipped him through for a clean breakaway in the 72nd minute. But instead of putting on the jets to get a shot for himself, Jones slowed up, looking to feed Victor Rodriguez through on the backside for an open look. In slowing the play, Jones allowed the defense to get back and cut off the opportunity.
- As the Sounders had punished Urruti and Montreal for not finishing a good chance early in the second half, Montreal similarly punished Jones and Seattle for not putting the game out of reach later in the half. On the possession after Jones’ miss, Taider took on Kelvin Leerdam in the box and drew a penalty off the Sounders right back. Taider buried the penalty with class.
- Montreal bagged their second goal and took the lead in the 77th minute. The play started inauspiciously enough with Ken Krolicki chasing down a ball in the corner that Jordy Delem was late arriving to defend. Krolicki got off his cross to Urruti, who dropped the ball to Omar Browne at the top of the box. Browne got off a half-shot/half-cross that Taider expertly redirected into the back of the net.
All week Schmetzer talked about not giving up soft goals, but that’s exactly what the Sounders did to lose the game. Credit Browne with good quality in his pass and Taider for clever movement in finding a soft spot to receive the ball on the first goal, but the decision to go ground from Kelvin Leerdam gave Montreal a penalty off a situation that was probably only going to become a half chance at best if Leerdam stays on his feet. On the second goal, Delem gave up on contesting a ball that Krolicki put into the box to start the play. Presumably, Delem thought the ball was going out play, but Krolicki’s hustle saved it. In both instances, the lack of mental discipline cost the Sounders three points.
Joevin Jones offered an exciting change of pace. It’s a shame that he bungled the best chance the Sounders had to put the game out of reach, but he at least showed plenty of dynamic flashes in his time on the pitch. Not only did his speed allow the team to open up and play more direct, his quality on the dribble helped break Montreal down when they started to bunker. In fact, one of his quality dribbling moments drew a foul in the attacking half that the Sounders parlayed into a penalty just a few passes later. Overall, his performance, while not flawless, showed plenty promise for the future.
Jonathan Campbell put in a second solid performance in the back. On paper, the Sounders center back position was the one to be most worried about heading into the match — Campbell and Saad Abdul-Salaam are pretty low on the depth chart at that position. Surprisingly though, the duo looked mostly in control throughout the match. Campbell in particular stuffed the stat sheet well, notching three tackles, three recoveries, and one defensive block.
Harry Shipp: box to box midfielder? Though his offensive skill set is more suited to playing center mid than winger, Shipp has spent the majority of his time with the Sounders playing out wide. This is likely due to a mix of having an abundance of quality at center attacking mid, and having a handful of players capable of covering more ground in the holding midfield positions. Today however, Shipp was tasked with taking over in the more advanced of the holding mid roles. Predictably, Shipp did well transitioning the team back to front and controlling tempo with 89% passing on a team-high 71 passes. Less predictably, Shipp also got stuck in with three tackles, two interceptions, and an eye-popping eight recoveries.
Did you see that?!?
On paper, the first half had no highlights. But Nouhou doesn’t believe in a half with no highlights. He will make a highlight. He is the highlight.
One stat to tell the tale
2 — Taider shot the ball twice. Taider scored twice. Montreal had no other players who were likely to score, but as it turns out, they didn’t need any.
Quote of the Day
“The guys worked too hard; they’ve come too far for that game to slip out of their hands.” — Brian Schmetzer.
Sounders Man of the Match
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