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Five things we’re thinking about from Sounders v. Rapids

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at Colorado Rapids Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

News that forward Will Bruin suffered a meniscus tear in the Vancouver Whitecaps match was about the last thing Seattle Sounders fans wanted to hear ahead of Sunday night’s match against the Colorado Rapids. Already shorthanded with a list of injuries that only seems to be getting longer, head coach Brian Schmetzer was working with about as thin a bench as could be imagined.

Toss in a road match at altitude against a solid Rapids side, and all the makings of a first loss of the season were staring the Sounders right in the face. Certainly, most fans would have taken a draw on the road under those circumstances.

And a point is what they got.

For the first 45 minutes, though, thoughts of a full three points surely danced in the heads of the Sounders after Alex Roldan made “something out of nothing” in the words of Schmetzer in the 41st minute and slotted a goal past Rapids goalkeeper William Yarbrough to give them a 1-0 halftime lead. The advantage was relatively short-lived, as the Rapids came out of the halftime break and were all over the Sounders, and finally got their reward in the 58th minute courtesy of Michael Barrios, who gave them fits for most of the game. But while the Rapids continued to press the Sounders, both sides eventually ran out of steam, and the Sounders were able to hold on for a valuable road point, keeping their undefeated start to the year intact.

Alex Roldan gets his reward

The supposed deal the Sounders struck with El Salvador to keep Alex with the team wouldn’t have affected the match against Colorado, but suffice it to say Schmetzer will be happy to have him with the team for the match against Houston. Roldan’s goal was born of nothing less than sheer determination, after initially losing the ball in an attacking position, Roldan simply continued to apply pressure to the Colorado backline, and a fortuitous bounce saw him through on goal, where he was able to slot a shot through the legs of Yarbrough. Roldan said the goal was long overdue, given that he has consistently found himself in attacking positions to supply dangerous crosses to his teammates. That he was able to finally open his scoring account in MLS was a fine way to reward his play since making his way back on the team after initially being cut before the 2020 season.

Leyva settles things down

To say the Sounders were under the gun for the first 30 minutes of the second half would be an understatement. They had difficulty dealing with the Rapids’ press and retaining possession when they were able to get control of the ball. Things seemed to turn around when Danny Leyva entered the match in the 75th minute. Leyva wasn’t necessarily a dynamo, but he was frequently able to use his vision to find open teammates, which allowed the Sounders to exert more control on the ball over the last 15 minutes of the match. Cristian Roldan after the game credited Leyva with stemming the tide at the end of the game, and his calmness on the ball was a big reason the Sounders were able to see out the result.

Schmetzer’s words of warning go unheeded

There’s a reason why Schmetzer signed a big extension at the beginning of this year: He knows what he's talking about. Throughout last week, Schmetzer messaged to the press and his team that teams have seemed to pick up a hole in the Sounders’ defense. Namely, long diagonal passes from deep-lying positions to speedy wingers. In particular, Schmetzer singled out Michael Barrios as a Rapids player who could potentially hurt the Sounders. Schmetzer’s premonition turned out to be dead-accurate, as the Sounders conceded on a cross from deep that found Barrios, who was able to take Brad Smith one-on-one and send a shot that beat Stefan Cleveland to the far post. With the Sounders having conceded goals two games in a similar fashion, Schmetzer won’t have much time to clean up any potential issues as the quick turnaround sees Houston coming to town Wednesday.

Ruidíaz the workhorse

Raúl Ruidíaz didn’t have many great chances in this game, save a shot that hit the crossbar early in the match. And with the Sounders under the gun for the majority of the second half, Ruidíaz had to do more of the dirty work than he may have liked. But he turned in a game performance, coming into the midfield to help with possession when he could, and tracking back to assist defensively. With the lack of service in this match, it was always going to be difficult for Ruidiaz to be a game-changer, so he did what he could to help his teammates come home with a positive result.

Wednesday should be interesting

While Alex Roldan will be sticking around, Cristian departed for camp with the US Men’s National Team after the game. With Bruin now out for a month, the Sounders’ reserves are bone dry. The good news is that the transfer window opens on July 8. Unfortunately, the match against the Dynamo as July 7. Schmetzer has already sounded the public alarm about the state of the roster. And though Xavier Arreaga should be back from national team duty, and Nouhou could also be in the mix, the team is in more dire straights further up the field. But for now at least, the Sounders will try to manage, and hope for no more injuries.

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