The Seattle Sounders got back to action following the international break with a trip to face Minnesota United. It wasn’t the prettiest of performances — at least not by the end — but the Sounders made it worthwhile with a 2-1 win. The win means that Seattle are now unbeaten in three in MLS, and in five in all competitions. On top of the win, which also marked the first time the Sounders have scored multiple road goals since a 3-1 win over San Jose Earthquakes on Sept. 29, 2021, Seattle were able to start working Nico Lodeiro and Raúl Ruidíaz as both played 45 minutes.
Ultimately the win came mostly on the strength of an outstanding first half, highlighted by João Paulo’s proper golazo that he hit with the power of a jet engine and pinged off the underside of the bar. Beyond the goal, Seattle dominated possession in the opening 45 minutes and took 10 total shots. The Sounders locked in the win with an own-goal forced by a decisive run and pass from Jordan Morris, who looks more and more like the dominant player we know he can be with each passing game.
Minnesota made a late push, particularly amping up the pressure in the game’s final 10 minutes. First they drew a penalty that Emanuel Reynoso finished decisively, then put the Sounders under waves of pressure, but Brian Schmetzer’s side withstood the attacks and got out with a win and the ability to get several players minutes and other players rest. They’ll need all of it as they get back at it on Wednesday, hosting NYCFC in the first leg of the CCL semifinals.
8’ — Slick passing from the Sounders sets up a couple of excellent touches in the box from Will Bruin before playing a ball for Cristian Roldan, but the shot is easily caught.
14’ — Minnesota come storming down the field after a Sounders corner. Abu Danladi gets a shot off from just outside the box, but it’s deflected and hits off the crossbar.
24’ — João Paulo wins a dangerous free kick that Nico Lodeiro sends in. Cristian Roldan makes contact right in front of the GK, but it’s blocked. Morris gets a follow up, but it’s high.
27’ — A bit of tricky interplay releases Morris in behind Minnesota’s defense. Morris hits a cutback for Will Bruin, whose shot is saved at the near post.
34’ — João Paulo hits an absolute dime to Nico Lodeiro coming in from the left side. Lodeiro meets the service with a hammered volley that Dayne St. Claire palms out for a corner.
38’ — João Paulo!!! Flowing football down the left leads to a cutback pass from Lodeiro for an on-rushing JP whose hammered first-time shot opens the scoring! 1-0 Sounders
49’ — Jordan Morris doubles the lead! His speed creates some difficult decisions for Minnesota, and Morris hits a ball intended for Raúl Ruidíaz that’s deflected in by the CB. 2-0
81’ — Jackson Ragen runs through to clear a ball out in the penalty area, but only gets the man. Emanuel Reynoso steps up and sinks the penalty, sending Frei the wrong way. 2-1
85’ — Minnesota create some danger from a corner kick, but the initial shot is blocked just before the goal line, and the follow-up is saved by Frei, then cleared.
The boys are back (the boys are back in town): It’s been a while since the Sounders could put out a real full-strength lineup, or even a game-day roster that included all of the players who would make up an ideal XI. The team’s still not quite there yet, but they’re getting closer. Nico Lodeiro made his first MLS start of the season, and his first regular season appearance since he subbed in for the second half against Nashville in the opener. Raúl Ruidíaz made his first MLS appearance as a halftime sub after dealing with some injury trouble as well. Approaching a huge series in CCL against NYCFC, the Sounders look to be as strong as ever.
João MVPaulo: Narratives are best when they’ve had time to develop and mature, to wind their way through the whole of a story. João Paulo has been outstanding from the moment he pulled on a Sounders shirt for the first time, and last year he had a legit run at MVP but fell short as he and the team stumbled at the end of the season. In 2022 we’re not taking any chances. JP was a monster against Minnesota, and it went well beyond his goal. He won 75% of his 13 duels, had 2 key passes, and completed 84.8% of his passes. Oh, and he scored that wonderful goal. He does everything on both sides of the ball, and has as good an argument as anyone for MVP.
Building momentum: Momentum is real, or it isn’t, it’s kind of hard to say in sports. Whether it actually means anything or not, it sure seems like the Sounders are building some as they have now reeled off five games unbeaten in all competitions, outscoring opponents 10-5 in that stretch. They’re heading into a pair of matches that will be among the most important in the team’s MLS era and should be full of confidence as they prepare to face NYCFC in the CCL semifinals. They’ll take every advantage they can get.
Did you see that?!?
Watch it over and over again.— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) April 3, 2022
Nico Lodeiro ➡️ João Paulo ➡️ Top Corner and we're up 1-0! pic.twitter.com/RAD6IApzuS
He said what?!?
JP on his goal: "The best part is I seem to have good luck against Minnesota (3 of 6 career goals against them, all bangers). I’m happy for that but even moreso for me to help us win."— Jeremiah Oshan (@JeremiahOshan) April 3, 2022
One stat to tell the tale
I’ll let OptaJack tell you.
Man of the match
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