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Winners & Losers: Sounders 4, Red Bulls 2

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Trying to make sense of a weird game

Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

SEATTLE — That was by far the strangest Sounders match I’ve ever seen. Both for obvious off-the-field reasons, but also for how Seattle played in the game. They should have won 6-0. They could have lost 5-4. It was just a bonkers game. I’m not sure I’m really going to be able to fully describe what happened, but I’ll give it a shot.

Winners

Scoring goals

You know the classic saying “Goals change games”? I think that’s mostly true, in the sort of way that obvious things are true. Like, the entire objective of the enterprise is to take the soccer ball and put the soccer ball into the opponent’s net. So, obviously, goals change the game. A lot is not going right for the Sounders right now, but they’re scoring a ton of goals (mostly). Thankfully they’re scoring more than the other teams, which is papering over a lot of cracks.

With two home games left, there have already been more goals scored (54) at CenturyLink Field this season than in any other previous season. The good news is that 33 of those goals have been scored by the Sounders, which already ties a franchise record for home goals. The bad news is that they’ve allowed 21, which is the most they’ve ever given up at home.

Jordy Delem

It’s interesting that Delem continues to get starts over new TAM signing Emanuel Cecchini. Brian Schmetzer is a coach who puts faith in players that he knows he can trust. Delem has shown to be a useful piece for the Sounders to deploy against teams that have good attacks. He’s sort of an Ozzie Alonso-lite type player. I’m not suggesting that he’s as good as Ozzie was, obviously, but there is an inherent value in having a player like him out there.

I would even go as far to say that the second goal the Red Bulls scored would not have happened if Delem were still on the pitch.

Jordan Morris

We’re watching a coming of age story unfold before our very eyes. This is the best form that Jordan Morris has ever been in. He’s registered 9 goals and 7 assists this season, and could realistically reach double digits in both categories. The only Sounders players to ever previously do that Fredy Montero (2010) Obafemi Martins (2014) and Clint Dempsey (2014-15). That’s some pretty good company.

Losers

Our sanity

It is never easy with this team, and maybe that’s not in the cards this year. There’s a lot that can and will be said about this team’s propensity to concede soft goals. It’s been an epidemic. This team hasn’t won three games in a row since the beginning of the season. They’ve had to score 90-minute winners, they’ve lost very winnable games at home, and they’ve gotten results that they shouldn’t have. The 2019 Seattle Sounders are a deeply flawed team in nearly every statistical category.

And yet, here we are. It was a bizarre game, and an even more bizarre season. Buckle up.

Allowing two goals, again

You know how I said just a few sentences ago that much would be made about this team’s defending? Well, I’m going to do that here and now. The Red Bulls are not a very good team. They are, at best, just OK. Last season they broke the MLS regular season points record, but that was with a different coach in charge. Frankly, Chris Armas is a coward. But that’s beside the point, really. The point is the Sounders are letting teams score far too easily.

Look, it can be explained away pretty easily when Zlatan does Zlatan things, but the two goals the Red Bulls scored on Sunday were just due to mental lapses by the Sounders. That needs to stop if the Sounders want to have any hope of making a deep run in the playoffs this season.

Luis Robles praying for the AR to bail him out

Look Luis, we’ve all been there. You’ve already given up three goals — including one of your own defender — and it’s deep into stoppage time with an equalizer seeming unlikely. But you still have to play to the whistle instead of waiting for the AR’s flag to save you. For a few minutes there, it looked like you were bailed out as it looked like Nicolas Lodeiro’s goal was going to be disallowed. Fortunately for the Sounders goal-difference, however, VAR alerted Allen Chapman before play could be restarted and showed that one of your defenders was actually holding Cristian Roldan onside.