There’s nowhere the Seattle Sounders seem to play worse than Rio Tinto Stadium. As if their 11-game winless streak wasn’t enough of a hurdle, Mother Nature added a weather delay that paused the game for more than two hours just a couple of minutes before halftime.
Prior to the break, the Sounders seemed to have settled things down and were scoreless. But the game quickly unraveled after the delay. RSL nearly scored immediately after play resumed and then did score almost directly after halftime. Bobby Wood’s goal stood up for the 1-0 win.
The Sounders have now gone 0-10-2 in their past 12 regular-season trips to Salt Lake and are winless in their past nine MLS matches overall, dating to last year. It’s hardly time to panic but these are not the kinds of trends any of us like to see.
6’: Justin Meram beats Jackson Ragen wide and sets up Maikel Chang for a shot that Stefan Frei saves.
17’: Ragen makes a last-second tackle to deny a chance following a poor Kelyn Rowe backpass.
20’: Léo Chú puts in a good cross that Fredy Montero is only able to deflect wide. Sounders retain control. João Paulo eventually finds Alex Roldan in the box. Roldan cuts it back to Reed Baker-Whiting but he scuffs the shot and it goes right to Zach MacMath.
33’: Pablo Ruíz ends up with an open shot from about 10 yards out but hits it very high.
43’: Lighting forces a delay of about 2 hours, 15 minutes.
45’: Shortly after coming out of delay, RSL creates a chance with Chang taking a shot that forces a strong save by Frei. Bobby Wood gets to the rebound but hits it wide.
46’: GOAL! Just after the five-minute halftime, Jackson Ragen is slow to close down Chang, who finds Wood slipping behind Xavier Arreaga in the box. Arreaga is able to block the initial shot, but it falls to Wood who beats Frei on the rebound. RSL 1-0.
52’: Meram gets in behind on the wing and sets up Chang for a good shot from about 14 yards out but Frei saves.
62’: Jordan Morris sends in a low cross that Fredy Montero gets to first, but his shot goes wide.
79’: Obed Vargas is able to carry the ball from near midfield and sets up Reed Baker-Whiting for a shot at top of the box. Baker-Whiting’s low shot forces a tough save, but no one is there for the rebound.
81’: Montero lets rip from about 25 yards out, forcing another tough save.
92’: Rowe’s switch is intercepted at midfield, starting a 3-on-1 break that RSL somehow manages not to score.
Lots of rotation: The starting lineup made it pretty apparent that the Sounders were focused on Tuesday’s match against Club Léon in Concacaf Champions League. Schmetzer made six changes to the starting lineup and returned to the 3-4-2-1. Among the starters were first-time starter Léo Chú, 16-year-old Reed Baker-Whiting and Jackson Ragen, who made his MLS debut. After a rocky start, it should be said the Sounders did reasonably well over the last 30 or so minutes before the weather delay.
Flat out of the delay: RSL was the much sharper team following the weather delay, nearly scoring before halftime and then actually scoring after the short halftime. One decision that didn’t seem to help the situation was bringing out the same players following the delay who started the game, only to make three subs at halftime. That was apparently one more than planned, though, as AB Cissoko managed to pick up an injury before halftime. Regardless of the cause, there seemed to be a bit of confusion about assignments on Wood’s goal and it took the Sounders several minutes to get their heads.
Solid debut for Ragen: It wasn’t a flawless performance — he was a bit slow to react on the goal — but otherwise Ragen was probably the Sounders’ most consistent player. He completed 90% of his 63 passes, won his only tackle, and was 6-for-8 on duels. As Ragen said, “it’s definitely not how I imagined my debut” with the weather delay and everything else but Schmetzer was very happy. It’s not at all hard to see him turning this into regular playing time.
Did you see that?!?
Yeah, it was ugly out there.
He said what?!?
Alex Roldan knows the Sounders have started slowly before and insisted no one is really panicking but he was still clearly frustrated with the performance: “Sometimes it’s not easy to play with new players, but there shouldn’t be any excuses not to step up. We just came out a little flat. We needed a bit more from certain players, and individually as well. I certainly reflect on that what I could have done better. Rotation should never be an excuse to go defensive or not go for the win.”
One stat to tell the tale
2.68 — Allowing one goal is hardly cause for panic, but it’s worth noting that the Sounders probably got a little lucky defensively. FotMob had them with 2.68 expected goals allowed. For context, they never allowed as much as 2.0 xGA in any game last year.
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