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Sounders vs Earthquakes, recap: Finishing strong

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The Sounders ended the regular season with a quality win to finish second in West.

Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

The Seattle Sounders took care of business to secure second place in the Western Conference as they stacked up goals once again against the San Jose Earthquakes in a 4-1 win. The first half was about as boring as the second half was action-packed. The two teams went into halftime tied 0-0, but less than 10 minutes into the second half Nico Lodeiro got the scoring started with a confident finish to beat James Marcinkowski at his near post. Raúl Ruidíaz stretched the lead to two goals not even two minutes later, and while the Earthquakes were able to get a goal of their own shortly after the Sounders pushed on and were never in much danger of losing the game at that point.

Getting the win and securing a good seed was big, but just as important was how the Sounders won the game. The team didn’t have their best game of the season, and it’s fair to say no one put in a perfect performance as every player seemed to have their share of loose touches and misplaced passes. But they still found a way to score goals as they punished San Jose’s mistakes while limiting how much they got punished themselves. Notably the goals all came from their three most dangerous players, with Jordan Morris getting in on the scoring along with Lodeiro and Ruidíaz. Even the own goal that capped the scoring off came from a dangerous run and cross from Morris and the threat of Ruidíaz in front of goal. Getting those players going will be crucial to a playoff run.

The Sounders will start their drive to hopefully repeat as MLS Cup Champions with a home game against seventh place LAFC.

Key moments

23’ — The first good look of the game comes as Roldan takes another swing at serving the ball into the goal mouth and he finds Nouhou, but the left back’s header goes wide.

45’ — A short corner leads to a cross from Lodeiro that takes a flick from a San Jose defender and comes off of the far post. The rebound falls to the Sounders, but everyone opts to pass in search of a better shot.

52’ — Lodeiro serves a free kick in to Roldan, but the ball pops out a couple times before he runs onto it and beats the ‘keeper with a shot at the near post. 1-0

54’ — The Sounders get right back in action as Roldan plows down the field and through the Earthquakes defense then playing a simple pass to Ruidíaz, whose deflected shot finds the back of the net to double the lead. 2-0

57’ — San Jose wins a free kick just outside the box near the end line, and Lopez hits it sweetly to beat Frei and shrink the lead. 2-1

74’ — Lodeiro takes advantage of a whiff by Jungwirth, then feeds Morris who calmly lifts the ball over Marcinkowski and into the goal. 3-1

81’ — Morris carries the ball into space down the left and serves it in for Ruidíaz in front of goal, but the Earthquakes defense beat him to the ball and put it into their own goal. 4-1

Quick thoughts

Spreading the love around: It’s clear that the Sounders feature three of the top attacking players in MLS in Lodeiro, Morris and Ruidíaz. Following this game in which all three got on the score sheet, the trio contributed a total of 29 goals and 22 assists. Morris and Ruidíaz both had double-digits goals, and Lodeiro’s 10 assists are tied for the league lead (the first Sounder to ever accomplish that). To add to those three, Cristian Roldan and João Paulo each have two goals and five assists, meaning the Sounders have plenty of players who can hurt teams, and even more so when they’re all on the field together.

Turning things around: Since winning three straight games between Sept. 27 and Oct. 7 - by a combined score of 8-3 — the Sounders had only managed a single win before Sunday evening. That stretch included some disappointing draws and embarrassing losses over the course of six games. Following the midweek draw against the LA Galaxy Brian Schmetzer discussed the frustration about the fact that this time of year is usually when the Sounders are rounding into form as they head into the playoffs, so this statement of intent is surely the kind of response he was looking for.

Keeping things fresh: The team is likely to have almost two weeks before their first playoff game, but it was still good to see Schmetzer using his substitutions to make sure that his players got out of the regular season healthy. Schmetzer used all five subs, but even more notably three of those five saw significant time.

Did you see that?!?

Jordan Morris buried the dagger with this cool finish, all but guaranteeing the win.

He said what?!?

One stat to tell the tale

1.77 — The Sounders finished the season averaging 1.77 points per game, the side’s highest total since winning the Supporters Shield in 2014 with 1.88 ppg. Their +21 goal-difference was also the best they’ve ever posted in a season.

Poll

Man of the match

This poll is closed

  • 71%
    Nico Lodeiro
    (287 votes)
  • 13%
    Jordan Morris
    (52 votes)
  • 14%
    Raúl Ruidíaz
    (57 votes)
  • 1%
    Stefan Frei
    (4 votes)
400 votes total Vote Now