SEATTLE — The Seattle Sounders have booked their spot in the Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinals. After a 0-0 draw on the road against C.D. Motagua a week ago, the Sounders put the tie to bed with a 5-0 win at home. Seattle dominated by just about any meaningful metric from, putting up some particularly eye-popping possession numbers in the first half before eventually finding the opener in the 33rd minute through Nico Lodeiro on a corner after Motagua had nearly gotten one of their own from a corner earlier in the half.
Lodeiro’s goal was just a precursor, though. It was the tide suddenly rushing out before a massive wave crashes on the shore. No sooner had the second half started than that wave broke. Cristian Roldan got on the end of a Lodeiro free kick behind the Motagua defense in the 47th minute, and from that point on the Sounders were basically scoring goals on a bus schedule with a goal every 12 minutes or so. The team was able to rack up goals while also rotating players to keep guys fresh for Sunday and avoid running anyone too hard a couple weeks into the season. Raúl Ruidíaz came off at the half to make room for João Paulo, Lodeiro and Jordan Morris both put in roughly 60-minute shifts, and plenty of good depth guys got quality runs out. The Sounders are back in action on Sunday when they play their MLS opener, hosting Nashville SC at 5 PM.
4’ — A yellow card is shown to a Motagua player for a step on Nico Lodeiro’s heel/achilles after a little help from VAR.
16’ — Motagua nearly find the opener off of a corner after Sounders players are second to the ball on a couple of quick plays in the area, but the eventual header is wide.
22’ — The Sounders get their own good look off of a corner, but Cristian Roldan’s header goes over the crossbar.
31’ — Jordan Morris and Albert Rusnák nearly combine for the first goal of the season as Morris finds Rusnak at the top of the box, but the shot is just high.
33’ — Nico Lodeiro gives the Sounders the lead! After picking up the ball on a corner and having his first attempt blocked, his follow-up shot finds the back of the net! 1-0 Sounders
47’ — Cristian Roldan doubles the lead, as Lodeiro’s free kick service takes Motagua off-guard and finds Roldan unmarked at the far post with time to take a touch and finish! 2-0
56’ — JORDAN MORRIS! The Sounders get their third with Morris running onto a through ball from Cristian Roldan that the Motagua back line made a mess of. 3-0 Sounders
62’ — Another one! Cristian Roldan gets played in by Albert Rusnák, then plays a ball back across the box for an emphatic finish at the far post for Kelyn Rowe. 4-0 Sounders
74’ — Léo Chú makes it five! A tackle and lay-off from Albert Rusnák at the top of the goal sets Chu up for a powerful finish to beat the goalkeeper at his far post. 5-0 Sounders
The Homecoming Court: It was a good game for a number of reasons, but just behind the team advancing to the next round of Champions League is the performances from Lodeiro and Morris. Morris returned from his injury in 2021 and played a few games, but was very clearly still working back to full fitness. In the first leg against Motagua both Lodeiro and Morris looked like they were still shaking off the rust along with the rest of the team. Tonight they looked much closer to the potential MVP candidates we’ve seen them be in the past, and both marked the return to Lumen Field with a goal to commemorate the occasion.
Building confidence: The Sounders hadn’t scored a ton of goals heading into this game. We’re all aware of that. A 0-0 win on the road against Motagua in the first leg opened the season after a preseason in which Seattle didn’t play a ton of games, and they weren’t exactly filling up the box score in the games they did play. Any concerns about whether or not this squad could score goals should be largely put to bed after a 5-0 walloping that saw most of the team’s primary attackers get on the board, along with goals from Léo Chú and Kelyn Rowe. The result doesn’t mean that the rust and growing pains are in the past, but it should be an encouraging sign for what lies beyond them.
Only better from Vargas: Obed Vargas started his second straight game, going 90 minutes once again in midfield against a CCL opponent. At no point did he look out of place — only once did he seem to come out second-best in a physical contest — the 16-year-old more than held his own alongside Cristian Roldan and then João Paulo in the second half. His ability to not only put in a shift and do a job, but to help make the team better made it possible to take Ruidíaz off at the half and bring on João Paulo to help get him ready for Sunday. He improved on his performance from last week, looking to play a bit more positively in the way he carried the ball and the passes that he chose. It’s only a couple of games, but the quality and improvement in such a short time has to be hugely encouraging for the present and future of the Seattle Sounders midfield.
Did you see that?!?
There may have been bigger or more meaningful goals in this one from Léo Chú, but there certainly weren’t any better.
He said what?!?
Schmetzer on Obed Vargas: ‘I was surprised that the kid was the player from our franchise that was getting the crowd hyped up... What I saw and what we felt on the sideline was a little source of pride’— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) February 25, 2022
One stat to tell the tale
74.5% — The Sounders had a passing accuracy of 74.5% in the attacking third tonight, which was even better than their 71.9% passing accuracy in the attacking half as a whole.
Man of the match
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