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NYCFC vs. Sounders, recap: Second-choice lineup, gets second-choice result

Sounders fall to 1-5-3 on the road.

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at New York City FC Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

After a promising first half where, the Seattle Sounders fell apart in the second half and ultimately fell 3-0 to New York City FC on Wednesday. Likely identifying Saturday’s encounter with the Columbus Crew as a more likely opportunity to claim points, the Sounders rolled out what was largely a second-choice squad — including seven players on short rest — ultimately got burned by a first-choice opponent. It was the Sounders’ fourth loss in five league games.

Key moments

  • The Sounders appeared to get on the board first when Justin Dhillon finished a Nouhou cross in the 6th minute, only to have the goal disallowed for offside.
  • It was a positive sign for the Sounders, who continued to generate chances throughout the first half. Although they couldn’t find the final ball, they were plenty competitive despite putting out a decided B team against NYCFC’s topline starters.
  • The Sounders were unable to carry that momentum into the second half. The Pigeons turned the tides and find the go-ahead goal in the 58th minute when Maxi Moralez finished off a close range chance that deflected off a Jordy Delem.
  • NYCFC added a second in the 77th minute when Jesus Medina was able to get an open look on what seemed like a relatively innocuous counter-attack. At first glance, Medina appeared offside, but he was played on by Joevin Jones failing to step up.
  • Just for good measure, Ebenezer Ofori scored a 35-yard blast in the 87th minute.

Talking points

Second-choice lineup gets second-choice result: I don’t know if Brian Schmetzer would actually admit to this, but the starting lineup absolutely screamed “we’re focusing on getting a result on the weekend.” There were “only” four changes from the win over the Whitecaps game, but everyone who sat was a veteran. In addition to them, Victor Rodriguez and Román Torres were held back. If this had been a must-win game, Nicolás Lodeiro would have almost certainly suited up at least. Instead, the Sounders were left with a group of players who were undeniably outmanned by a first-choice NYCFC group. Despite the talent gap, though, the Sounders actually looked capable of getting a result for about 60 minutes. Then the wheels came off. It happens. Still, the 14 shots tied a season high for shots on the road and at least showed the Sounders were willing to play.

Nouhou doesn’t seem happy: There have been rumors swirling around Nouhou ever since the offseason and they kicked up this week. Nouhou picked up a yellow card in the 4th minute today and was perhaps a little lucky not to have been sent off, while also looking a bit disinterested at times. When he came off in the 72nd minute, it looked like he refused to shake the hand of his replacement and go straight to the bench without acknowledging the coaches. It’s entirely possible I’m reading too much into this, but he sure didn’t seem engaged.

Better days ahead?: If there’s a silver lining to the loss, it’s that the Sounders should be reasonably well rested for Saturday’s trip to Columbus, when they’ll face a Crew team that are in the midst of a 1-1-10 run. Brad Smith, Kelvin Leerdam, Gustav Svensson, Lodeiro and Torres should be fully rested, while Victor Rodriguez should be good to go as well. We may also see Danny Leyva and Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez again. There are still questions at striker — especially after Justin Dhillon faded pretty hard after a strong first half — but there’s no reason the Sounders shouldn’t go into that game with the expectation that they can win their second road game of the season.

Did you see that?!?

The first half was full of encouraging moments, and Xavier Arreaga’s willingness to run was definitely one of them.

One stat to tell the tale

1 — The Sounders fell to 1-5-3 on the road. There’s reason to expect it to get better, but that stands in stark contrast to their 7-0-2 record at CenturyLink Field.

Quote of the day

“We weren’t able to establish enough possession in their half and gave it away all over the field, and this field plays small.” - Schmetzer

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