SEATTLE — There are all sorts of reasons the Seattle Sounders have struggled to get results over the past few months. But all of those excuses were absent when they lined up against Atlanta United at home for a nationally televised match on Sunday. They went a long way to easing any concerns with a 2-1 win over an admittedly hobbling opponent that was more convincing than the result suggested.
- The Sounders probably should have opened the scoring in the 22nd minute when Kim Kee-hee got an open look at the back post, but sent his shot over the crossbar while falling back.
- Cristian Roldan had the Sounders’ next good look at the opener when he got open down the left side and dribbled into the box only to have his shot saved by Brad Guzan.
- Harry Shipp was the next Sounders player with a gilt-edged chance when Nicolas Lodeiro put him in behind the Atlanta defense. The pass was a little behind Shipp, who also seemed to underestimate how much time he had and his shot was blocked.
- The Sounders finished the first half with a 10-8 shots advantage, but had the far better looks.
- For a brief moment, it looked as if all those missed chances would come back to bite the Sounders when Pity Martinez appeared to open the scoring in the 50th minute only to have it ruled out for offside.
- All those chances finally came good in the 58th minute after some absolute magic from Raúl Ruidíaz. The forward controlled a pass from Roldan off his chest, then sombreroed Miles Robinson with his second before blasting his shot from about eight yards out past Guzan.
- The lead was short-lived, though. Josef Martinez was effectively left unmarked on a 65th-minute header and blasted it past Stefan Frei. That was Atlanta’s second shot on frame and the first they’d had since Julian Gressel’s 25-yard effort in the 9th minute.
- It didn’t take long for the Sounders to start generating chances again. Ruidíaz put a shot off the post in the 66th minute and Shipp had a chance from the penalty spot that was saved in the 68th.
- The winner came on a beautiful worked play in the 71st minute. Jordan Morris started the sequence by winning the ball in the offensive end and then pushed it ahead to Lodeiro. Lodeiro then put Morris into space along the right wing and Morris lofted a pass to Shipp at the back post. This time, Shipp finished well, hitting a header back across Guzan’s goal and into the net.
Big win over a big club: Look, we all know Atlanta United is not playing as well as they did a year ago when they put together one of the greatest regular seasons in MLS history (yet managed not to win the Supporters’ Shield) and then followed it up with an MLS Cup. United has now won just 3 of 9. Still, the Sounders don’t have a ton of convincing wins over playoff-caliber opponents and, final score aside, this was about as well as they’ve looked all year. Brad Guzan suggested the Sounders probably should have scored a few more goals and this will end up as their best game by xG. With about as close to a fully healthy and rested squad as they’ve had in months, this was the kind of performance the Sounders needed to turn in.
Redemp-SHIPP-tion: The player who probably ends up with the highest share of the Sounders xG will almost certainly end up being Shipp, who kept putting himself in very good places only to have his final touch elude him. The goal, though, was well taken and should not be treated as some sort of tap-in. The ball hung up in the air long enough that Guzan was able to get set and another defender had gotten himself in position to potentially make a goal-line stop. But Shipp did well to hit his header off the turf and get the Sounders the winner. Shipp has quietly been the Sounders’ best player over the last six weeks or so and will deservedly get the plaudits in this one.
Jordan Morris is a winger: It’s not very often that you can say Morris played well in a game he didn’t have a single shot, but that’s exactly what happened. Morris was credited with four chances created — including the assist on the game-winner — a couple of tackles and was generally just doing things you want wingers doing. When asked if he now feels like a winger, Morris said he did. The comfort shows.
Did you see that?!?
Goals don’t get much better than Ruidiaz’s.
He said what?!?
Harry Shipp: "I should've scored at least one in the first half. At halftime, I was pissed at myself. I told myself next chance I got, I was going to score. Luckily, I got a chance to redeem myself and it got the team a win."— Ari Liljenwall (@AriLiljenwall) July 14, 2019
Stat of the day
10 — This was the Sounders’ 10th win of the season. They’ve won at least that many in all 11 of their MLS seasons, which appears to be a record. Sporting KC can reach 10 for a 10th straight season this year.
Man of the match
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