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Sounders vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, recap: A win, finally

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Sounders get their first win of the MLS is Back Tournament and advance to knockout stage.

Seattle Sounders FC v Vancouver Whitecaps FC - MLS Is Back Tournament Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

The Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps met in a game that was expected to bring some traditional Cascadia flavor to the MLS is Back Tournament. The Sounders needed a win in their final group stage game to extend their stay at the Walt Disney World Resort, but just as importantly needed a performance to build off of. As soon as the whistle blew it was clear that Brian Schmetzer’s side were up for the challenge.

Seattle ended the game leading in the most important stat — winning 3-0 — but their dominance could be seen all over the stat sheet. The Sounders out shot the Whitecaps 17-8 — including a 7-2 advantage of shots on goal — they won more tackles, and won more duels. Chances went back and forth at the start of the game, but Seattle opened up the scoring in the 16th minute when Nicolás Lodeiro put away a penalty earned by Jordan Morris, and they never looked back. In addition to this game seeing Seattle’s first win of the tournament, as well as their first multi-goal performance, but it also saw young Homegrown Players Danny Leyva and Josh Atencio make their first appearances of the competition.

Key moments

3’ — Handwalla Bwana appeared to open the scoring early after a ball from Lodeiro, but it was ruled out after Lodeiro was judged offside.

7’ — Morris, Lodeiro and Bwana all have opportunities to score, but none of them can put the ball in the net.

12’ — Leonard Owusu misses an open header from a free kick following a foul by Nouhou.

16’ — Lodeiro scores on a penalty kick after Jasser Khmiri is issued a yellow card for having handled a ball from Morris inside the box. 1-0

22’ — Morris and Raúl Ruidíaz combine for a two-man counter, ultimately ending in a Sounders corner kick.

34’ — Morris creates a turnover and a quick exchange between Ruidíaz and Lodeiro releases Morris into space. Morris holds off a defender and his shot beats goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau. 2-0

39’ — Svensson stops a Vancouver attack, then immediately starts a counter with a no-look backheel pass.

51’ — Nico Lodeiro’s corner is first met be a flicked header towards goal by Handwalla Bwana, then helped along by Morris before Ruidíaz controls and quickly tucks it away. 3-0

55’ — Bwana gets a good chance in front of goal, but ends up fouling Crepeau as he steps on his hand. Crepeau has to be taken out of the game, replaced in goal by Thomas Hasal.

60’ — Seattle nearly add a fourth goal but Hasal comes up with a double save, denying Ruidíaz from close range, then tipping away Lodeiro’s attempt.

68’ — Xavier Arreaga, after getting hit in the face by the ball, has to be subbed out. Jordy Delem comes on for Arreaga, while Kelvin Leerdam makes way for Alex Roldan.

90’ — Josh Atencio makes his Sounders debut as he comes on for Gustav Svensson.

Big Takeaways

Gustav Svensson and Cristian Roldan are a great Plan B. João Paulo’s absence has been clearly felt throughout the first two games of the MLS is Back Tournament. The new DP midfielder offers a quality in the center of the field that the Sounders haven’t had in a long time, if ever, but when he’s not available being able to field the tandem of Svensson and Roldan in midfield is an option almost any MLS team would be envious of. Against a Vancouver team that was pressing and trying to make it difficult to string passes together, the Sounders midfield duo posted a passing accuracy of 89% on 113 combined attempts with one key pass. Even the incomplete passes they did have weren’t in particularly dangerous spots, with only two of them resulting in incompletions in Seattle’s defensive half.

Stars shining. Seattle’s goal scorers, Morris, Lodeiro and Ruidíaz, combined for 12 shots, 6 shots on goal, and 3 goals. Lodeiro and Morris were each also credited with an assist as well. While the team needs goals from the rest of the team over the course of a tournament or a season, if they want to succeed those three star attackers need to show up consistently on the score sheet. For all three players, in their time with the Sounders they’ve shown up when it mattered, and that trend continued on Sunday night against Vancouver as the team played for their MLS is Back futures. Notably, the Sounders are now 15-1-3 all-time when those three start together.

Playing the kids. While none of them made much of an impact on the game, a couple of Seattle’s promising youngsters saw the field for the first time in the tournament. Shandon Hopeau, who has now appeared in all three MLS is Back games, was joined by Danny Leyva when the two subbed in in the 79th minute, then were joined in the 90th by Josh Atencio as the Sounders closed out the game. Leyva, in particular, used his opportunity to show what he can offer in João Paulo’s place, doing his best to relieve pressure and create opportunities with his slick passing as he connected on 15 of the 17 passes he attempted. The appearances were brief, but hopefully the players showed enough to earn more of Schmetzer’s trust going forward.

One stat to tell the tale

8 — The Sounders won 8 tackles to Vancouver’s 2, exemplifying how difficult they made it for Vancouver to play through them. Those tackles created transition opportunities, and helped prevent Vancouver from creating meaningful chances.

This game in one gif

Jordan Morris was feeling it.

Quote of the day

Schmetzer on the idea that the team may have wanted to be finished with the tournament after this game.