After a frustrating loss at home to Sporting KC over the weekend, the Seattle Sounders traveled down the coast to play LAFC and got the doors blown off for their trouble. LAFC handed the Sounders a 3-0 loss that easily could have been worse if not for a couple of vintage Stefan Frei saves. Seattle came close to getting off the mark a couple of times, but never really looked much like they were going to give the hosts any trouble.
Maybe we can find solace in the idea that it grows darkest before the dawn? The playoffs are fast approaching, and the Sounders are still lead the Western Conference, but right now it feels a little like they are backing into the postseason. Against LAFC, the Sounders once again struggled to find teammates with passes — both when attempting to keep possession/avoid the press, and when pushing forward — and the midfield and defense were repeatedly and routinely split open and played through.
Sure, guys were missing, but if the previous three games weren’t wake-up calls maybe this one can be. Nico Lodeiro is back, Raúl Ruidíaz and Jordan Morris are both close, and João Paulo will be back after sitting out this game for yellow-card accumulation. If Brian Schmetzer and his staff can figure out what’s been wrong for the last couple weeks, they’ve certainly got the pieces to lift another trophy.
21’ — GOAL! Brian Rodriguez makes a run that splits Yeimar Gomez Andrade and Xavier Arreaga to get on the end of a through ball and hit his shot through Stefan Frei’s legs. 1-0 LAFC
38’ — LAFC split Seattle’s defense again leading to a shot from a slight angle, but Nouhou steps up and puts it out for a corner.
45’ +3 — GOAL! LAFC doubles the lead after the Sounders lose possession and Latif Blessing runs onto a deflected cross to hit it home just before halftime. 2-0
47’ — Nouhou gets on the end of a free kick from Kelyn Rowe, but his header comes off the underside of the bar. Moments later Fredy Montero nearly heads one home, but it’s saved.
51’ — GOAL! Cristian Arango hits a shot from deep that deflects off a defender, leaving Frei flat-footed as it goes inside the near post. 3-0
58’ — LAFC nearly add another goal off of a deflected free kick, but Frei dives to his right and paws the ball away.
74’ — Following a great save by Frei, Nicolas Benezet gets on a ball from Léo Chú and nearly pulls one back for Seattle but his shot is put out for a corner.
80’ — Jamal Blackman comes up with another big save, this time getting just enough of a Nicolas Lodeiro shot to put it over the bar.
Lodeiro’s back! Nico Lodeiro is back, and maybe this time it’s for good? I can’t see the future, and presumably neither can you, but it does appear as though the knee injury (injuries? I’m genuinely not totally clear) that has kept Lodeiro off the field for so much of this season has been cleared up, and he looked good in his first game back! Lodeiro even nearly got himself a wonderful goal, which would have been little more than a consolation, but a great save put his shot over the bar. It’s objectively better to have your best players available and playing well, but the return of Nico Lodeiro could be so much more than just that as we head into the playoffs.
MV(J)P: João Paulo had to sit out this particular road trip due to accumulation after picking up a yellow card against Kansas City. If it was at all a question before this one how important JP is to this Sounders team, the matter is very clearly settled. He’s been the most important player for the Sounders, providing a much-needed defensive anchor in midfield, exceptional passing and possession play, set-piece service and some fantastic goals to round out the whole thing. In his absence, the Sounders were disjointed, easily played through and struggling to string passes together in order to avoid LAFC’s press or build into an attack. With him, the Sounders are one of the best, if not the best, team in MLS. Without him tonight they looked like FC Cincinnati. He’s the clear league MVP.
Will Bruin’s woes continue: Will Bruin has been an important contributor for Seattle all season, even if it hasn’t always meant that his name showed up on the scoresheet. Bruin was, after all, a major factor in Brian Schmetzer’s decision to try out the 3-5-2 ahead of the season in an effort to get both of him and Raúl Ruidíaz on the field together more. Even as the back of the net alluded him, Bruin put in solid shifts week-in and week-out, proving quality hold-up play and showcasing an impressive ability in build-up. Seeing him come off the field with an apparent knee injury against LAFC hurts. I’m sure it’s physically painful for him, but as fans, it’s difficult to see such a likable and talented player potentially lose even more time to injury. Hopefully, it’s nothing major, but for now there’s one less tool in Schmetzer’s belt.
Did you see that?!?
There weren’t a lot of highlights, but this may be the closest we ever get to a Sounders Nouhou goal.
He said what?!?
Schmetzer: "I have confidence that this team can come back. There’s fight left in the team and that’s what I’m proud of."— Jeremiah Oshan (@JeremiahOshan) October 27, 2021
One stat to tell the tale
14 — Despite the lop-sided score, the Sounders equaled LAFC’s shot total and also had a nearly identical xG. Of course, Sounders have been on the other side of that equation too.
Man of the match
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