Brian Schmetzer played a heavily-rotated lineup when the Seattle Sounders traveled to face the San Jose Earthquakes, starting teenagers Ethan Dobbelaere and Danny Leyva and resting João Paulo and Will Bruin, among others. His side fought hard to get a 1-0 win, but the cost may have been higher than was worth the three points. The first half was a challenging one, including losing Jordy Delem to a knee injury within the first five minutes, but the Sounders took a 1-0 lead courtesy of Cristian Roldan and carried that into halftime.
While the scoreline stayed the same, things took a turn as a physical game saw plenty of hard challenges and questionable refereeing decisions going both directions. In the early moments of stoppage time, Stefan Frei and Shane O’Neill collided while trying to defend a free kick, and Frei went down with an apparent knee injury. The Sounders had used all of their substitution opportunities, and so Alex Roldan pulled on the ‘keeper gloves and jersey. The younger Roldan put in an impressive performance, making three saves and putting his body on the line to preserve the win. Seattle is back in action on Sunday, May 16, against LAFC at Lumen Field, and they’ll likely be doing it without Frei in goal.
4’ - Delem has to sub off with an apparent knee injury following an awkward challenge by an Earthquakes player. O’Neill eventually comes on to replace him.
19’ - Cristian Roldan picks up a poor clearance just outside the box, controls the ball well and smashes home a volley to open the scoring. 1-0
37’ - The Earthquakes play a clever sequence into the box to set up a sure-goal for Cowell, but Frei gets down to his right to make a diving save and push the ball out for a corner.
89’ - Espinoza shoots from outside of the box following a stretch of dangerous moments in and around the Sounders’ area, but it’s easily caught by Frei.
91’ - On a free kick following a foul near the edge of the area by Arreaga, Frei comes out to clear the service and collides with O’Neill. The collision tweaks Frei’s knee, and he’s forced to come off.
94’ - Alex Roldan takes the gloves, as the Sounders have no available subs. Immediately he makes a save to maintain the 1-0 lead on a service from the ensuing drop kick.
Lost ‘keeper: We don’t know the extent of l Frei’s injury. The way he was helped off of the field with his left leg immobilized, it seems likely that his knee at the very least won’t be good to go for this weekend, and we’ll just have to wait and see how much longer beyond that. In the interim, while Alex Roldan filled in admirably tonight, the starting spot is going to go to one of Stefan Cleveland or Spencer Richey. Richey was on the bench as Frei’s backup against San Jose, while Cleveland started with Tacoma Defiance over the weekend. The team is high on both players, but if the role needs to be filled for more than a game or two, there are some serious questions to answer.
What to expect from the kids: Ethan Dobbelaere and Danny Leyva both started tonight, and neither was particularly impressive. Leyva had more than a couple sloppy moments, while Dobbelaere was largely uninvolved as he had nearly as many duels (5) as passes (6) in his 45 minutes. The season is young, and neither player likely did enough wrong to play themselves out of future minutes, but it’s important to recalibrate what we expect from the young guys on the team. Josh Atencio burst onto the scene through the first couple of games, but has been out injured since. With Reed Baker-Whiting having just signed, it’s important to remember that these guys are still learning and adjusting to the level. Leyva hadn’t played more than 11 minutes in a competitive game since the 2020 home opener, while Dobbelaere’s 45 minutes tonight nearly matched his 54 total MLS minutes last season. It’s going to take time, and the kids are going to get plenty of chances, we just need to be patient.
Alex Roldan: There has been plenty of love shown for Alex Roldan so far this season. His move out to right wingback has been a revelation, and Brian Schmetzer deserves credit for seeing the potential there. He’s been great in his forays into the attack and has stood up admirably when called upon in defense. His stint in goal against San Jose, though, is the stuff that creates legends. He’s got some way to go before he reaches the same status as his older brother, but he’s quickly writing himself into a greater part of the Seattle Sounders story than many of us would have expected.
Did you see that?!?
Things were so bright and full of hope at one point.
He said what?!?
"Cristian just threw my name out there and said it was better if I went in there he stayed in midfield. That decision came between them two." - Alex Roldan— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) May 13, 2021
Having your younger brother on your soccer team means that you can offer him as tribute.
One stat to tell the tale
3 — Alex Roldan was credited with three saves as GK.
Man of the match
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