The Seattle Sounders got their 2021 preseason schedule under way against their most familiar foe, giving coach Brian Schmetzer his first look at a revamped two-forward formation against a MLS opponent.
So far so good.
The Sounders got a goal from Fredy Montero to open the scoring in the 62nd minute and conceded a late equalizer to Darion Asprilla on the way to a 1-1 draw at the Starfire on Tuesday. In the second match, a lineup comprised mostly of reserves, academy and Tacoma Defiance players battled the Timbers to a scoreless draw over 75 minutes.
The result hardly matters in preseason, though picking up a couple of results against the Timbers will certainly make for a happier locker room. More importantly, the Sounders got nearly two full games worth of time against hostile opposition, as they prepare for the fast-approaching season opener on April 16 against Minnesota United.
Though the match was in Schmetzer’s words, “chippy,” he said he was pleased with what he saw from both the starters and young players.
The Sounders started what could be considered a first-choice lineup with the notable exception of Designated Player Raul Ruidiaz, who has been unable to join the team as he resolves his green card situation. All indications are that Ruidiaz will be able to join the team this week.
“The energy was good, the fitness was good, no injuries, so things were good,” Schmetzer said.
The goal from Montero will be especially encouraging for Schmetzer, as he was brought in to provide additional scoring punch and depth for a reimagined formation. Montero is sure to get plenty of time this year, with the expected departure of Ruidiaz for various international commitments. So developing a partnership with Bruin is something Schmetzer will be relying on this year.
“They’ve [Bruin and Montero] been training together,” Schmetzer said. “Yeah it’s the first game, but Fredy is a goal scorer, he’s a good player. He’s going to help this squad for sure.”
For Montero, scoring against Portland in his first match back — unofficial though it may be — will certainly provide additional confidence ahead of the start of the season.
“I know it’s preseason, but I enjoy playing these high-level games,” Montero said. “It is one step closer to the start of the season, and I see the team concentrating and believing in what we are doing.”
The goal for the Sounders as they continue their preseason will be to solidify depth and work out any remaining issues in moving to a two-forward formation. Bruin said while it’s a work in progress, he was pleased with how the team looked in their first game.
“It’s hard to switch formations, but I think we did a good job with it being early in preseason still,” Bruin said. “Going forward, there’s still we can work on, but we’re getting our spacing together so it’s very encouraging.”
SEA – Fredy Montero 62’
POR – Dairon Asprilla (Yimi Chara) 85’
FIRST SESSION LINEUPS
Seattle Sounders FC – Stefan Frei, Brad Smith, Shane O’Neill, Xavier Arreaga, Nouhou, Alex Roldan, Cristian Roldan, Nicolás Lodeiro, João Paulo, Fredy Montero, Will Bruin
Portland Timbers – Steve Clark, Dairon Asprilla, Diego Chara, Yimi Chara, Larrys Mabiala, Felipe Mora, Christian Paredes, Diego Valeri, José Van Rankin, Dario Zuparic
SECOND SESSION LINEUPS
Seattle Sounders FC – Stefan Cleveland, Abdoulaye Cissoko*, Yeimar Gómez Andrade, Jordy Delem, Jimmy Medranda, Cody Baker+, Josh Atencio, Reed Baker-Whiting*, Danny Leyva, Ethan Dobbelaere, Shandon Hopeau
Portland Timbers – Jeff Attinella, Pablo Bonilla, Tega Ikoba+, Marvin Loría, Zac McGraw, Trialist 1, Trialist 2, Trialist 3, Bill Tuiloma, Eryk Williamson, Renzo Zambrano
* USL Player