SEATTLE — The Seattle Sounders hit the brakes on the LA Galaxy’s hot start and on their own skid with a performance that was far from perfect but still enough to get their first league win of the season. The two teams went back and forth — the Galaxy took an early lead via a defensive breakdown that allowed Chicharito a straight-forward finish, but the lead only lasted 10 minutes before Jordan Morris equalized.
Seattle claimed their first lead of the night in first-half stoppage time courtesy of a Fredy Montero penalty. Montero earned the penalty by getting bowled over in the box to finish off a great play that involved a beautiful ball from Albert Rusnák, a good cross from Alex Roldan, and some nice juggling from Montero. LA tied it up again in the 48th minute before Xavier Arreaga put away an excellently worked set piece for the eventual winner in the 72nd.
This was the Sounders’ first MLS win since a 4-1 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps on Oct. 9, 2021. LA were undefeated through the first two weeks of the season — two 1-0 wins, it should be said — but narratives don’t actually play football. Seattle approached this one similar to their home game against León, allowing the opponents the majority of the ball with the intention of making themselves hard to beat at the back, while creating and taking advantage of transition opportunities and set pieces. It may not have been perfect, but the plan worked and the points all count the same at the end of the season. Seattle travel to León for the second leg of the CCL quarterfinals on Thursday, then play another weekend afternoon game away against Austin FC on Sunday, March 20.
6’ — LA opens the scoring. A run into the box from Rayan Raveloson goes unchecked until the last moment when he dishes to Chicharito in front of goal. 0-1 Galaxy
16’ — Goal Sounders! On a corner earned by Montero, the ball bounces around after a Cristian Roldan header and Morris helps it across the line to tie it up! 1-1
24’ — An absolutely perfect step from Alex Roldan prevents a dangerous look for LA, and seconds later Cristian Roldan is fouled to prevent a Sounders break away.
41’ — Excellent team play along the right side from the Sounders positions Alex Roldan to cut the ball back into the box at the end line, but his brother and Morris get their signals crossed.
45’+2 — Montero earns the penalty, he takes the penalty, and he scores the penalty! Some conversation between Montero and Albert Rusnák before, but Montero resolves that. 2-1
48’ — Douglas Costa’s free kick from the edge of the box takes a deflection off Yeimar as it comes over the wall and goes into the far side netting to level the game. 2-2
62’ — Xavier Arreaga leaps up and connects with a free kick from Rusnák in LA’s area, but his header hits the front of the post.
72’ — Ten minutes later and Arreaga gets his reward! Passes between the Brothers Roldan off of a free kick set up Alex to send in a dime that Arreaga puts away! 3-2 Sounders
79’ — Efra Alvarez nearly creates magic for a second straight week, but his attempt comes off the bar. Rayan Raveloson’s attempted bicycle kick follow-up goes over the goal.
Narratives, shmarratives: There’s been plenty — more than enough, for some folks — of discussion about the winless league run for the Sounders. The fact that said winless run included a frustrating playoff loss that followed a disappointing stretch of six games to end the 2021 regular season and had carried over into 2022 was a source of much ire, at least outside the locker room. It’s fair to note that 2022 is a new season, and what happened in 2021 is in the past, but that’s not the way that brains or emotions work. It’s also fair, though, to note that the Sounders have been dominant at home in Concacaf Champions League play so far, and with this result they have a 3-2-1 record in all competitions and have outscored their opponents 11-4. Yes, this was their first league win, but things are far from dire.
Jackson Ragen to the courtesy phone: Yeimar came out of the game in the 52nd minute after picking up an ankle injury. It remains to be seen how long he’ll be out, but his replacement today is likely to be his replacement for however much time he misses. Jackson Ragen’s performance wasn’t exactly eye-catching stuff, but it was a good taste of what the former Sounders Academy player has to offer. The formidable centerback’s passing was sharp, connecting on 9 of his 10 attempts with the only miss coming on a long ball into LA’s half. He added four recoveries, and while he’ll still need to grow into MLS play, he did his part to keep the Galaxy from finding a way through and helped preserve the result.
Doing what great teams do: It’s been fair, to a certain extent, to wonder why the Sounders played so well in CCL but lost their opening pair of MLS games, and hadn’t looked especially good while doing it. It’s fair if those questions are appropriately caveated and contextualized — Nashville is one of, if not the best defensive teams in MLS and weren’t a fluke in the East last year, while Salt Lake is a notoriously difficult away game even without adding a lengthy weather delay — but the crux of the dilemma has always (you know, for two weeks) been that the team performances didn’t seem to equal the sum of their talent. Seattle has one of the best squads on paper in the league, and today they showed that even when things aren’t quite clicking that talent can still shine through. Missing two of the side’s three Designated Players, Fredy Montero stepped in and provided yet another goal to go along with some quality play, and Albert Rusnák showed for a second game in a row why the Sounders were so keen to bring him in. The Roldan brothers put in the kinds of performances that we’ve come to expect from them, combining the skill and unmatched competitiveness that are required to earn wins even when a team’s not at its best.
Did you see that?!?
Just a spectacular play all-around. pic.twitter.com/iM67APeivH— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) March 12, 2022
Alex Roldan hit a dime that Xavi Arreaga made no mistake with.
He said what?!?
Schmetzer on coming back from a deficit: ‘We have a very experienced team and we’re at home. We always try to win games. Sometimes it doesn’t work. Obviously when you play at home you want to be on the front foot.’— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) March 12, 2022
One stat to tell the tale
0.275 — Seattle produced 2.2 Expected Goals from 8 shots, for a pretty remarkable 0.275 xG per shot.
Man of the match
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