Brian Schmetzer and the Seattle Sounders got the taste of defeat out of their mouths with a win away against Sporting Kansas City. The 2-1 win had plenty of drama, as the Sounders took a 1-0 lead into halftime. Seattle was up 2-0 10 minutes into the second half, but despite a number of chances SKC had the next goal and continued to push for more over the final half-hour.
It didn’t always look pretty or clean, but the Sounders weathered the storm. A combination of chaos, good fortune and a piece of quality defending here and there allowed the team to keep SKC from getting anything more than Johnny Russell’s consolation goal. Cristian Roldan’s goal opened the scoring, and some impressive work by Raúl Ruidíaz set Will Bruin up for the winner. The win pushes Seattle back to the top of the West, and they’re back in action on Wednesday with another road game as they face the San Jose Earthquakes.
31’ — Cristian Roldan scores! Josh Atencio picks up a loose ball in SKC’s half and flicks it into space for Brad Smith, who cuts the ball across the area for Roldan to finish. 1-0 Sounders!
35’ — Raúl Ruidíaz has a good look at a second Sounders goal after a cross from Brad Smith is headed back across goal by Will Bruin, but his side volley doesn’t make great contact.
38’ — Ruidíaz com es close again, this time with an open header from a Cristian Roldan cross, but the shot goes just wide of the far post.
50’ — SKC get their best chance so far with a shot off of a short corner, but the shot is deflected and out for a corner off of the post.
55’ — Will Bruin makes it two! A sloppy defensive pass and some lovely work by Ruidíaz gives Bruin a chance to double Seattle’s lead with a header. 2-0
60’ — Johnny Russell hits a ball perfectly after being left alone on a free kick. He has a tight angle but beats Stefan Frei at the near post to cut the lead. 2-1
77’ — Russell gets in along the endline and hits a ball across goal, but Frei paws it away and João Paulo clears the danger to keep the lead intact.
The Atencio Effect: Josh Atencio has been a fairly regular part of the Sounders lineup throughout 2021. The 19-year-old has made 18 appearances in all competitions but hasn’t consistently shown the same sort of game-changing skill and ability that we saw in the first couple of games this year. With Atencio returning to the starting XI with something approaching a first-choice lineup around him, he showed what the team has missed with Kelyn Rowe starting ahead of him — even when he’s not at his peak. Against SKC the players around him seemed more able to get involved and impact the game going forward, with Cristian Roldan being the most obvious to benefit. Kelyn Rowe is a quality player, but Atencio seems to provide calmness and peace-of-mind to his teammates and that seems like something the squad could use more of.
Ruidíaz missing his scoring boots: It’s now been over a month since Raúl Ruidíaz scored in an MLS game. His last league goal came in Seattle’s 1-0 win over FC Dallas on Aug. 18. He obviously scored the winner against Santos Laguna in Leagues Cup, but this is the fourth MLS game without a goal for the team’s scoring leader and the team has lost twice and won twice in that time. Ruidíaz can be streaky, as is almost any striker’s wont, but Seattle needs him to rediscover the form that put him in the running for the golden boot. He’ll be away during the international window in October, and is likely to miss a couple games, so some goals in the coming games would help to soften the pain of his absence.
Playoff positioning: At this point it seems virtually impossible to catch the New England Revolution in the race for the Supporters’ Shield. It doesn’t do anyone any good to worry over the Revs having a potentially historic season, so what matters is that the Sounders take care of business on their side of things. To that end, finishing in first in the West would assure the team home-field advantage through MLS cup, and give them a bye in the first round. This win put them ahead of SKC with a game in hand, and three points in front of a Colorado Rapids team that has played the same number of games. The rest of the season is tough, Seattle play 5 of the last 9 on the road and will be without at least Ruidíaz for a stretch, so taking that lead and building a cushion could be pivotal.
Did you see that?!?
Can Ruidíaz get some credit for creating a breeze that pushed the ball over the line?
He said what?!?
Roldan on the win: "It was a huge win. We felt like it was a must-win, a six-point game if we want to win Western Conference. Still a lot of time, but if we want to achieve what we want to achieve, we needed to win that game."— Jeremiah Oshan (@JeremiahOshan) September 27, 2021
One stat to tell the tale
2013 — Seattle won in Kansas City for the first time in 8 years, the last one coming on May 8, 2013.
Man of the match
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