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Winners & Losers: Sounders vs. LA Galaxy

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Jordan Morris can’t be stopped.

Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

SEATTLE — It’s hard to know what, exactly, to make of that game. There were times when the Seattle Sounders looked great, building a 2-0 lead and looking pretty comfortable in doing so. There were times when they looked ready to fall apart, surrendering that 2-0 lead and then coughing up a 3-2 lead at home. Finally, they pulled out a wild 4-3 victory that puts them in wonderful playoff position behind a stellar Man of the Match performance from Cristian Roldan.

Winners

Morris, Jordan Morris: If there’s a winger in MLS playing better than Jordan Morris over the past month I’m not sure who it is. Morris bagged his eighth goal and picked up his sixth assist on the season in this one and seems capable of doing that against just about anyone right now. Since returning from international duty on July 14, Morris has four goals and five assists in nine appearances while also turning in honest two-way performances. Against the Galaxy, he was constantly defending as deep as the penalty area and was a big part of why the Galaxy struggled to create any kind of offense from the right side of their attack. The 1-2 he played with Raul Ruidiaz to score the Sounders’ third was absolutely sublime.

Raúl Ruidíaz’s scoring form: It was nothing like a signature performance, but Ruidiaz quietly scored his 11th goal of the season, grabbed his third assist and was generally a handful for the Galaxy centerbacks. That’s his third straight game with a goal and he has now scored in eight of his past 10 starts. What’s surprising about this is Ruidíaz doesn’t seem to be particularly hot, he’s just bagging his goal-a-game without much fanfare. That kind of dependability doesn’t necessarily create headlines, but it is hugely useful.

Gustav Svensson’s punctuality: Eagle-eyed viewers probably noticed Gustav Svensson making a b-line for the exits as soon as the whistle blew. Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer was quick to point out “he’s not mad at me” and then explained that Svensson needed to rush to the airport in order to catch a 7:15 p.m. flight in order to meet up with the Sweden national team ahead of some European qualifiers. With the apparent help of a waiting car and likely TSA precheck, we understand he made his flight.

Losers

So much for containing Zlatan: For 65 minutes, the Sounders did just about everything right in terms of containing Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Then his goal happened. It was the type of goal only Zlatan scores, basically hitting it off the back of his head between a sea of defenders. Not much to be done, although you can probably argue Stefan Frei could have played it better. From that point forward, the game turned wide open and the Galaxy started generating chances. Luckily, the Sounders were able to create some of their own, but they were not particularly successful at containing the big man.

Lovers of fine defense: Over the past three games at CenturyLink Field, the two teams have combined to score 19 goals. The Sounders have allowed three in each of them and if you go back another game, they’ve now allowed 11 in their last four home games. In their first 10 home games of the year, the Sounders had allowed just eight. They had only allowed three in a home game 11 times during their first 10 seasons and had never done it in consecutive games. More troubling, is the Sounders have now surrendered four leads in their past two home games. Ending the three-game home winless run is obviously the most important thing, but they can’t keep allowing goals like this and expect to do anything in the playoffs.

Galaxy’s playoff positioning: Despite erasing 2-0 and 3-2 leads, the Galaxy had nothing to show for their efforts. They’re now sitting in the sixth playoff spot, just two points ahead of the Portland Timbers, who have a game in hand. I know Zlatan says the regular-season doesn’t matter, but it definitely does if you don’t qualify for the playoffs.