NEW YORK CITY, New York — For nearly 60 minutes, it was going well for the Sounders. While they hadn’t created many scoring opportunities—a Justin Dhillon offside goal notwithstanding—the Sounders hadn’t let in any goals.
The midfield tandem of Jordy Delem and Alex Roldan managed to break up plays and the backline was able to hold NYCFC to some field-assisted half chances.
Even after a calamitous series which saw the Sounders eventually concede a deflected goal to Maximiliano Moralez in the 58’, the game was still there to get a result.
But eventually, the pressure got to them.
“Decent first half, and we’re in the game and we have our chances,” Stefan Frei said. “They kind of created their own luck in the second half.”
After the initial goal, NYCFC saw that the Sounders’ makeshift lineup was susceptible to transition, and City broke out on multiple occasions, putting added pressure on the team. Coach Brian Schmetzer said a big problem was the team’s inability to sustain possession, especially in NYCFC’s half of the field.
“We weren’t able to establish enough possession in their half of the field, we gave the ball away all over the field,” Schmetzer said. “This field plays small, transition is key on this field. They were able to get after it in transition and get a couple of clean looks.”
The Sounders attempted to press as well and had some success, especially in the first half, but the lack of possession combined with some fatigue created opportunities in transition which the Sounders wilted under.
“Once they got out of our press, they weren’t afraid to go after it.” Frei said. “They wouldn’t let us get back into shape, they would overload and come at us quickly and see if they could force something and the first goal was a perfect example.”
The rotated lineup presented some expected problems, with players who hadn’t played with each other, as well as fatigue. The midfield pairing of Alex Roldan and Jordy Delem were effective in the first half, but eventually had trouble dealing with the quality of NYCFC’s lineup, especially in the midfield.
“We lost the ball a little too much, kind of got tired and our legs got a little heavy,” midfielder Alex Roldan said. “They pressed really well and they also contain the ball pretty well and they’ve got good movement.”
The Sounders created a few opportunities in transition, especially with Joevin Jones creating off the dribble, but it wasn’t a strategy the Sounders were able to exploit as much as they would have liked.
“Sticking to the transition game since it’s such a small field would have helped us a little bit more but they got the better of the second half,” Roldan said.
The bottom line from Schmetzer was that the team simply wasn’t good enough on the day. “We didn’t perform well enough to keep them off the scoreboard,” he said.
- Handwalla Bwana was left at home with the team’s permission, as he is dealing with a personal family issue. The team notes this absence is fully excused.
- Nicolas Lodeiro was at the stadium and participated in individual warmups along with Danny Leyva. Lodeiro arrived back in the US earlier Wednesday and was not able to participate due to the extended travel. He is expected to be ready for the game against Columbus Saturday.
- Leyva was simply being rested, as he played 120 minutes in an academy playoff game last week followed by his 90 minute stint versus Vancouver.