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Recap: That was ugly

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Sounders end their MLS is Back Tournament with a whimper.

Seattle Sounders FC v Los Angeles FC: Knockout Round - MLS Is Back Tournament Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

The Seattle Sounders got beat in every part of the field during their MLS is Back Tournament Round of 16 match against Los Angeles FC on Monday. There had been plenty of talk about the idea that this game would be seen as an opportunity for revenge after the two teams met in the Western Conference Final of the 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs, and whether or not this victory will serve as any sort of balm for the loss last fall, LAFC came out with a fire under them.

The game ended 4-1 in LAFC’s favor, but it easily could have been worse. LAFC had three chances in the first 10 minutes, but finally got on the score sheet after a bad penalty from Xavier Arreaga in the 13th minute. Diego Rossi struck his penalty beyond Stefan Frei’s reach, and the Sounders never really looked much like catching LA once they had the lead. Defensive mistakes, too-slow possession, and an inability to convert what chances the Sounders did create made for a difficult game to watch for Sounders fans. The one possible bright spot in this game came when Will Bruin entered the game in the 71st minute and scored in the 75th, marking his return after 13 months away due to injury. The Seattle Sounders will now get to return home, and prepare for whatever semblance of an MLS season comes next.

Key Moments

4’ — Jordan Morris stages a one-man counter, but loses control of the ball.

13’ — A series of defensive miscues leads to a poorly-timed sliding challenge from Xavier Arreaga, who takes out Diego Rossi and concedes a penalty. 1-0 LAFC

18’ — Arreaga finds Kelvin Leerdam in space on the right, whose cross nearly reaches Raúl Ruidíaz.

35’ — A Sounders corner floats through the box and connects with Tristan Blackmon’s hand, but no penalty is called.

39’ — Shane O’Neill attempts to block a Latif Blessing shot, but instead directs it into goal. 2-0 LAFC

51’ — Morris connects with Raúl Ruidíaz in the box, but Ruidíaz’s shot is blocked

58’ — Nouhou stops a 2-v-1 counter.

63’ — Kelvin Leerdam connects on a volley cleanly, but his shot hits Raúl Ruidíaz.

65’ — Stefan Frei makes a fantastic kick save to deny Diego Rossi.

71’ — Will Bruin steps onto the field for the first time since his injury in June of 2019.

75’ — Joevin Jones’s cross finds Will Bruin making a run at the far post. Bruin’s shot beats Kevin Vermeer. 2-1

82’ — Arreaga gets caught trying to control the ball in the box, and Diego Rossi scores his second goal of the night. 3-1

89’ — Brian Rodriguez jumps on a poor touch from Gustav Svensson, then beats Frei. 4-1

Big Takeaways

Paying for mistakes. There has been no shortage of reasons to worry or complain about the Sounders defense throughout the MLS is Back Tournament. On Monday night all four of LAFC’s goals came directly from mistakes made by a defender, with Arreaga shouldering the blame for two goals himself. The mistakes didn’t just start happening during the tournament, as both goals the team allowed before the pandemic hit also came directly from poor play or miscues from the centerbacks. The Sounders have invested a lot in their two first-choice CBs, and Brian Schmetzer and his team will need to figure out how to clean up their performances going forward.

Will Bruin is back! Bruin’s last appearance before his knee injury was back last June, and his last goal came in April of that year. It would have been nice just to see him return to the field, but to have him get a goal was a great welcome back gift for the forward, even if it was nothing more than a consolation. Bruin’s return should be a boon to the Sounders as they plan for the remainder of the MLS “regular” season, as none of the other forwards on the depth chart behind Raúl Ruidíaz have much in the way of MLS experience, and Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez went the entire MLS is Back Tournament without even making the bench.

More than just babysitting. Danny Leyva, the young Sounders HomeGrown Player with whom fans are likely most familiar, wasn’t available after fracturing his foot in training, but Brian Schmetzer still played his kids, at least for a bit. Shandon Hopeau subbed in for Handwalla Bwana in the 55th minute, and was joined in the final minutes of the game by Ethan Dobbelaere and Josh Atencio. Dobbelaere, 17, showed promise in his first MLS minutes, connecting passes and showing a willingness to take players on on the dribble. It didn’t result in anything, but it was nice to see the kids on the field, even if just for a few minutes.

One stat to tell the tale

19 — LAFC took 25 shots against the Sounders, with 19 of them coming from inside the box.

This game in one gif

That one’s going to sting.

Quote of the day

Things are bad enough, so let’s focus on a positive. Will Bruin’s back, and he celebrated with a goal.