The Seattle Sounders went into their game on Sunday night against LAFC with an opportunity to build on their 3-0 win over the Portland Timbers last Sunday. They had a full week of rest following the postponement of their game on Wednesday, and Xavier Arreaga had recovered from his injury enough to make the bench. That’s not to say there weren’t challenges, though. The game against LA Galaxy on Wednesday was postponed due to a player strike in solidarity with players from other sports leagues around the country protesting the police in Kenosha, Wisconsin shooting Jacob Blake in the back seven times, a continuation of the ongoing violence that disproportionately impacts Black people in the United States, and the conversations and circumstances that go along with such a decision by the players is certain to take a toll on their mental well-being. From a more purely soccer perspective, the team had yet to beat LAFC at CenturyLink Field, and they lost handily to LAFC to end their stay at the MLS is Back Tournament.
None of that mattered when the two teams stepped onto the field, though. The game was often times sloppy for the Sounders during the first half, but Raúl Ruidíaz gave them a lead in the 11th minute when he jumped on a loose ball and beat LAFC goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer from over 30 yards out. Seattle never looked back, stretching their lead first to 2-0, then to 3-0 within the first five minutes of the second half courtesy of two goals from Jordan Morris. The Sounders would ultimately cruise to a 3-1 win.
11’ — Ruidíaz picks up a rebounded ball from Roldan, sees an opportunity and beats Vermeer from distance. 1-0
45 + 1’ — Ruidíaz intervenes to prevent an LAFC attacking opportunity, but picks up a knock in the process.
48’ — Lodeiro plays a ball behind the LAFC defense and Morris splits the two centerbacks, then slaloms around Vermeer before slotting the ball home. 2-0
49’ — João Paulo and Bruin play a nifty one-two before João Paulo bends a cross around the defense for Morris to run onto and hammer home. 3-0
60’ — Cifuentes finds Rossi all alone and he beats Frei at the near post. 3-1
90 + 3’ — Arreaga slides to clear a cross away from danger and out for a corner with LAFC attackers lurking in the box to preserve the two-goal lead.
Jordan Morris is back. Goals in back-to-back minutes will make for an obviously good evening for an attacker but Morris put in a strong performance on both sides of the ball. Beyond his goals he could have had a couple of assists with a little bit of luck, and his speed and unrelenting work rate to win back the ball gave LAFC fits all night.
The stars are shining. There has been plenty of talk about what Seattle could look like when they can get all of their Designated Players on the field together along with the likes of Morris and Cristian Roldan. Much of that has focused on getting João Paulo and Nico Lodeiro into the same midfield, and on Sunday night the big names for the Sounders all got on the scoresheet one way or another, and João Paulo and Lodeiro showed plenty of technical ability and willingness to do the unglamorous work necessary to win a big game.
The Shane O’Neill Hype Train. When Shane O’Neill signed on the first day of training camp he was brought in as a possibly high upside backup. It was clear that he was going to see the field, but it’s fair to say that he’s played more than anyone likely would have expected or hoped at this point in the season. In his time on the field, particularly in these two games following the MLS is Back Tournament, O’Neill has been the nearly Platonic backup CB. He isn’t great, he’s not likely to change a game with his passing or completely shutdown a star attacker, but he’s also not likely to be actively bad or outright lose a game for you. He’s not a starter under ideal circumstances, but he’s just what you want from your CB3: acceptable.
One stat to tell the tale
59 — 59 seconds elapsed between Jordan Morris’ first and second goals in the 48th and 49th minutes.
The game in one gif
It all started with this work of art from Raúl Ruidíaz.
Ruidiaz from WAAAAAY downtown. pic.twitter.com/Q8KWCg5upW— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) August 31, 2020
Quote of the day
Seattle played at CenturyLink Field for the first time in nearly six months.
Morris: "We missed the fans, but it was still nice to be back home"— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) August 31, 2020