The Seattle Sounders drew 0-0 on Sunday night against visiting Austin FC. Seattle was shut out for the first time this season, while Austin snapped a three-game losing streak. The first half wasn’t boring, but it also lacked the fireworks we all would have hoped for as Seattle welcomed a road-ragged Austin side to Lumen Field. The Sounders had the better chances, they had better passing and more possession, and they handily beat Austin in duels, but neither side could muster the magic to conjure a goal.
Austin put the Sounders under plenty of pressure in the early part of the second half, but for all that they made Seattle work they also didn’t create much. It looked like Seattle had finally broken through when Fredy Montero got on the end of a ball from João Paulo and tucked it inside the near post, but the play was reviewed and the goal was called back due to Raúl Ruidíaz being in an offside position.
Seattle continued to push for a winner, but just couldn’t find the finishing touch required to take three points into the international break. The Sounders are off, at least as far as games go, until the middle of next month when they head to play the LA Galaxy on June 19.
22’ — A great ball by Nouhou puts Kelyn Rowe in behind. Rowe hits a cross that finds Cristian Roldan, but Roldan’s volleyed attempt is into the crowd.
40’ — The Sounders entire defense seems completely caught unaware on a corner as they watch the ball fly into the box. Eventually Yeimar Gomez Andrade clears it out for another corner.
57’ — C. Roldan draws a foul from about 30 yards out. João Paulo’s service into the area is good, but the header goes out for a goal kick.
62’ — Fredy Montero hits a beauty of a ball that seems to set up perfectly for Ruidíaz, who managed to stay onside, but the ball pops through the striker’s legs and the danger evaporates.
71’ — Austin gets their first real chance after a turnover, but Stefan Cleveland comes out and stands big as he blocked the shot and puts it out for a corner.
75’ — Seattle appeared to take the lead through a Fredy Montero goal, but Ruidíaz was offside on the play and the goal is called back after review.
Where have all the goals gone? It’s a small sample size, just two consecutive games, but this Sounders team that looked like a juggernaut at times in the opening couple of games has looked a little lost in front of goal in recent weeks. The approach of just trying to get the ball to Ruidíaz in or around the penalty area still has value, but even then the side has struggled to turn possession in dangerous areas into actual attempts on goal. They’re heading into a break, and are likely to be without Ruidíaz for at least a little while coming out of the break, so without him working his magic where are the goals going to come from? How can they clean things up to start generating more actual opportunities - and in turn goals - from their good movement?
Safe hands: With Stefan Frei out for the foreseeable future — get well Stef — at least for now the starting spot belongs to Stefan Cleveland. Through three starts Cleveland has two clean sheets from a win and two draws, only giving up a goal on a penalty to Josef Martinez. He’s come up with saves when he’s been called upon, but frankly hasn’t been tested a whole ton. Still, his save tonight ultimately proved to be the difference between a frustrating 0-0 draw and a 1-0 loss that would have been orders of magnitude more frustrating. I don’t know if he’s the ‘keeper of the future for the organization, but he’s the ‘keeper of the moment, and I feel pretty comfortable with that.
Longing for Lodeiro: It is readily apparent that the Sounders miss their star midfielder. Seattle is built around Nico Lodeiro, and while the team has plenty of talent and can win without him, everyone is at their best when he’s on the field. Lodeiro had an arthroscopy performed to clean up his inflamed knee, and could potentially return when the team comes back from the international break. If they can get him back and up to speed, that would go a long way towards solving a lot of Seattle’s recent woes. Lodeiro allows Cristian Roldan to play where he is most effective alongside João Paulo, which makes things easier for the Brazilian as well, and the knock-on effects throughout the team mean that everyone is just more able to do the things that they are best at. Lodeiro’s ability to pick out a pass and find himself in position to score as well should help to ease some of the sting of missing Ruidíaz, and provide the spark needed to make this undefeated start more than just a flash in the pan.
Did you see that?!?
This whole sequence ... gosh. pic.twitter.com/poMqiURZc5— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) May 31, 2021
We still had some fun.
He said what?!?
"Frustrated is defintely a word we'd use. We felt going into this stretch, we thought we needed nine points to put us in a good spot. You have to take advantage of these stretches. We just weren't sharp enough." - Cristian Rolldan— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) May 31, 2021
One stat to tell the tale
63.6% — Seattle won 63.6% of the duels against Austin FC, 56 to 32.
Man of the match
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