SEATTLE — In a game that featured three goals called back for offside and plenty of chances for both teams, the Sounders snatched victory with a perfectly executed set-piece in stoppage time. João Paulo’s near-post corner picked out Cristian Roldan who provided a textbook flicked header for Jordan Morris to bury at the back post. In the end, the goal sealed what felt like a fair victory as the Sounders dominated the Fire 3.8 to 0.5 on shot-based xG (though Chicago’s number would be higher had two of their best looks not been waved off the board for offside).
The match was far from a flawless performance as Chicago found joy down the wings in the first half and scored on a fairly innocuous chipped through ball early in the second, but the Sounders can be proud of securing three points in a game that seriously tested the team’s depth.
3’ — The Sounders started on the front foot as Kelvin Leerdam played an early cross into the box that skipped to Miguel Ibarra in front of goal. Ibarra got a knee to it but the redirect was easily handled by Chicago goalkeeper, Kenneth Kronholm.
13’ — Chicago forced Stefan Frei to make a play in an awkward spot as Przemyslaw Frankowki slid a dangerous ball across the six looking to find Robert Beric. Frei got down well to punch the service away and the backline cleaned up the rest.
23’ — In what would become a theme in the match, Ibarra missed another chance to score from point blank range when a Raúl Ruidíaz shot fell to him at the edge of the six-yard box. Ibarra’s redirect forced an athletic foot save from Kronholm.
29’ — Beric scored a tap-in off a Jonathan Bornstein box cross, but the goal was correctly called back for offside.
36’ — Djordje Mihailovic buried a loose ball off a save from Frei, but the goal was once again correctly called back for offside.
46’ — Just after halftime, Mihailovic slipped into the box far too easily as Leerdam tracked him back and O’Neill appeared to try to hold an offside line. The Chicago midfielder then slipped a ball back to Beric, who nobody tracked into the box, for an easy goal.
56’ — O’Neill played a ball forward that got knocked down where Roldan picked it up and played Morris down the wing. Morris then drove into the box and sent a low cross to Roldan, who finished inside the near post. The goal was waved off by VAR after it was ruled Morris was offside on O’Neill’s pass.
60’ — After a series of possibly understandable misses from Ibarra earlier in the match, the new signing blasted a clean look at a mostly open net over the goal. Consolation points for getting into dangerous areas, but Ibarra will surely hope to find better finishing boots soon.
62’ — The Sounders finally got on the board as Roldan whipped in an impressive cross off the half-volley from deep in the corner of the field. Morris made a smart move off the ball to get in front of his mark and finish the chance.
72’ — Morris continued his hot streak with a daft chip to play Leerdam in behind Chicago’s backline. Leerdam slid the ball to Ruidiaz for an open-net look, but Ruidiaz put the shot wide as he was pressured late by Chicago’s Johan Kappelhof.
90 + 3’ — The Sounders get a deserved winner off a Joao Paulo corner kick. Roldan provided an excellent front post flick for Jordan Morris to finish off with a header of his own at the back post.
BFFs: Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan reminded us once again that the the power of friendship conquers all. In addition to Roldan assisting both Morris goals, Morris assisted a Roldan goal that was sadly called back for a very close offside earlier in the sequence. With Roldan sliding into the attacking band of three in the team’s 2020 ideal 11, this connection should be a consistent threat throughout the season. Long live Jorstian Mordan.
Dancing Xavi: Xavier Arreaga continues to grow into his role as a marquee center back for the Sounders. In addition to notching a solid number of defensive actions, the Ecuadorian international completed two dribbles and led the team with 84 passes, many of which were progressive looks into the midfield that helped Seattle build from the back. Defensive continuity and shape is still a bit of an issue — he failed to track Beric on the goal — but Arreaga’s on-ball quality should be a major bonus this year.
In João we trust: Three matches into the year, it’s time to take the caution breaks off the João Paulo hype train. The new DP trailed only Arreaga in touches and passes and was part of nearly every good play the Sounders made. On the team’s first goal, he provided a great looping ball to the corner to pin Chicago back, and on the second goal, he hit an inch-perfect corner. Factor in a team-high four tackles, and that’s quite an MLS debut.
The lonely island: Ruidíaz only notched 23 touches in the entire match. That didn’t stop him from providing excellent hold up play and a few lovely passes, but it may have affected his rhythm when he missed a great look on goal in the 72nd minute. Without Nico Lodeiro providing a conduit from back to front, the striker was largely deprived of the ball. After the game, Brian Schmetzer made a point of saying they need to get him more involved moving forward.
The game in one gif
Is it possible to get fouled and nearly break somebody’s leg at the same time? This extremely awkward collision encapsulated a little bit of early season sloppiness from both teams.
Here's that tackle Delem got into. No-call probably right. pic.twitter.com/HBeCm8gJ4Z— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) March 1, 2020
One stat to tell the tale
Jordan Morris is underrated. I said it.
2 - @JmoSmooth13 is the first player in MLS history to score multiple goals in the opening match of back-to-back seasons. Deliver.— OptaJack⚽️ (@OptaJack) March 1, 2020
Quote of the day
“I thought we started slow and that’s unacceptable.” - Cristian Roldan, not exactly satisfied with the win.
Man of the match
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