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Five thoughts on an out-of-tune Sounders performance

Heavily rotated lineup falls to Inter Miami.

Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

Sometimes, the B-side is just a dud.

Back some 40 years ago, when hairspray abuse was rampant and a fully-coiffed Brian Schmetzer roamed the fields instead of the sidelines, a thing called cassette tapes ruled the music landscape. When a musician dropped a single, everyone rushed out to the nearest Camelot Music to pick up the latest hit.

After playing the latest release a couple dozen times, you’d finally get around to turning the tape over and listening to the second set of songs. Sometimes experimental, sometimes just trying to fill the quota for the release, occasionally you’d get a ‘Sucker M.C.’s’ or ‘Yellow Ledbetter,’ but usually it’s one quick listen before you forgot about it and returned to the other side of the tape.

Which brings us to the Sounders’ 1-0 home defeat to Inter Miami, which won’t make any top-10, except perhaps on Miami’s list of (legal) accomplishments thus far in MLS. Still dealing with the consequences of MLS rule-breaking and general incompetence, David Beckham’s long-suffering project now has two wins on the bounce, leaving coach Phil Neville’s job intact for at least another week.

For the Sounders, perhaps the less said about the result the better, and the preferred course of action for Schmetzer is to play his favorite track and forget this match ever happened.

Right side, wrong result

To be fair, this was hardly the worst Sounders performance ever. It might not even be the worst performance this year by most of the players on the field. That said, the one place Inter Miami clearly dominated — particularly in the first half — was attacking the Sounders’ defensive left side. In his first start of the year, Jimmy Medranda clearly struggled, losing individual duels, being caught out of position and otherwise having just a bad day at the office. He was pulled at halftime and the Sounders almost immediately improved, in that area at least.

The kids are OK

It had been a minute since previous Sounders darlings Josh Atencio and Danny Leyva had seen extended minutes, in part due to injury and also because the Sounders are a ridiculously deep team this year. Add in the ascent of Obed Vargas, and minutes have been tough to come by. As a midfield pairing, Atencio and Leyva were ... fine. They weren’t the reason the Sounders lost this game, though both struggled to impact the game going forward. Similarly, Vargas wasn’t as impactful from his advanced position but had some bright moments in attack.

Yedlin’s Homecoming

This wasn’t your typical “player comes back to try and show up his old team” scenario, as it has been acknowledged that both Yedlin and the Sounders would have liked to make a reunion happen. But MLS is MLS, and the rules of acquisition made it financially imprudent for a deal to get done. So for the time being, the parties’ paths will only meet per the MLS schedule-makers whims. Still, Yedlin is competitive and a professional, and as part of Inter Miami’s right-sided attack he fairly tortured the Sounders, getting his reward if not revenge with the game-winning assist.

Calvary charges too late

The Sounders arguably still had the more talented side even with a rotated lineup. They probably did when the Roldan brothers came on at halftime, and they surely did for the last 20 minutes with Raúl Ruidíaz, Albert Rusnak and Nico Lodeiro on the field. And though they thoroughly dominated Inter Miami, the quality in front of goal wasn’t there in the final stanza of the game. Perhaps the sheer number of changes made it difficult for the team to gel, but one would think there was enough for at least a moment of quality. But it was not to be.

It’s an ugly loss

There’s no two ways about it. The Sounders don’t have any business losing to Inter Miami at home — under any circumstances. It’s an embarrassing defeat, and the Sounders will have a week to think on it before they head to another struggling side in San Jose. The Sounders have had plenty of success against the Earthquakes in recent years, and there is a rumored coaching change about to go down in San Jose. Coaching changes and is typically difficult for the opposing team to deal with, so it will be interesting to see how the Sounders approach the match with a Champions League final to think about.