The last days of work or school before a fun trip are always a drag. Time seems to crawl, you don’t really want to be there, and your mind wanders, thinking of the cool experiences you’re about to have. Let’s face it, you just want the bell to ring so you can leave the building and get ready for a fun adventure.
Still, you’ve got to get your work done before you go. And if you do a sloppy job, it can still come back to bite you down the line. Whether that’s your GPA taking a hit, your boss chewing you out, or in the Seattle Sounders’ case, failing to make up ground in the standings.
Despite the messaging from head coach Brian Schmetzer’s about the importance of getting a road result in Utah— something the Sounders make look as hard as getting a perfect score on the SAT — the warning went unheeded as the Sounders caught a bit of Senioritis on their way to Las Vegas and never really got untracked, dropping a 1-0 result in what could charitably be called inhospitable conditions.
It was not a particularly bright performance from either side. But RSL’s one moment of brilliance was more than the Sounders managed on the day. After RSL scored, they mostly shut up shop, content to absorb what minimal pressure the Sounders could muster. A lack of finishing from RSL prevented them from killing off the game entirely, but the Sounders simply didn’t have it on the day, and one goal was enough.
Flat Second half
Going into halftime 0-0, the Sounders had to be feeling pretty good, all things considered. RSL probably had the better of the play on balance, but the Sounders were defensively stout, and did not allow RSL much, one near-golazo from Aaron Herrera aside. There was all the expectation then that Schmetzer would be able to use his patented halftime adjustments and superior depth to grind out a second-half result. It never materialized. In fact, RSL jumped on the Sounders from the opening of the second half, and were rewarded just three minutes in thanks to some quality individual play from Herrera, who spun Brad Smith around on the end-line, before sending in a peach of a cross that Damir Kreilach managed to head home, getting between AB Cissoko and Kelyn Rowe. The Sounders seemed to wake up a little when Fredy Montero and Jimmy Medranda entered the game, but it wasn’t nearly enough.
Can’t make up ground
Early results once again provided the Sounders an opportunity to make up ground in the Supporters’ Shield race, and reclaim their spot atop the Western Conference. Unfortunately, the flat performance leaves the Sounders no better than they started the day. Actually, it was a bit worse, as they fell a further point behind New England (1-1 draw at home), while losing one of their games in hand over Sporting Kansas City. With Colorado having a winnable game at home against Vancouver Sunday, the Sounders could wake up in third place as they head to Starfire for training Monday.
Arreaga anchors the backline
It’s typically not great when your defender is the only real candidate for Man of the Match. Still, Xavier Arreaga deserves some plaudits for his performance on the day. Arreaga’s line-breaking moves provided the Sounders with some of the few opportunities they had going forward, and he was stout in defense, using his superior instincts to cut out passes. Arreaga was also solid in his positioning on defense, drawing multiple fouls to relieve pressure.
Nicolas Lodeiro is ... injured again?
It would be remiss not to mention the curious case of Nicolas Lodeiro, who had been absent from training for the last week, missing the Leagues Cup semifinal match. Initially termed “precautionary,” it was revealed during the pregame broadcast that Lodeiro had suffered an aggravation of his previous knee injury, which kept him out of action for essentially the first few months of the season. Schmetzer elaborated on the situation after the match saying that Lodeiro re-injured the knee in training recently, and they are in the process of getting a second opinion on the injury. The Sounders have of course fared well in the absence of their Designated Player this year, and the “Next Man Up” mantra will continue, but it is certainly disappointing for everyone that Lodeiro was so close to fitness, only for it to seemingly have been taken away.
On to Vegas
Losing on the way to the Leagues Cup final will certainly take some of the shine off in the short term, but the Sounders are in good company on that front. Leon, the Sounders’ opponent in the Wednesday clash, also suffered a 1-0 defeat to last-place FC Juarez in Liga MX play on Saturday. Like the Sounders, Leon had significant squad rotation with an eye towards the final. In that way, it’s a sign that both teams are taking the match very seriously, so the hope will be that it’s an entertaining match to make up for the poor weekend results.