SEATTLE — The Seattle Sounders hosted Minnesota United on Sunday with their first chance to shake off the funk that has followed since the team won the Concacaf Champions League final. Despite falling behind 34 minutes into the game, the Sounders came back to win 3-1 with three second-half goals.
Seattle created plenty of chances in the opening 45 minutes, but for all of the near misses and close looks, the finishing touch was missing. Instead, it was Minnesota who managed to find that final bit of quality just over half an hour into the game when Nouhou attempted to trap the ball in the penalty area, only to have it roll through his legs to an eagerly waiting Robin Lod. Lod didn’t waste his moment and finished easily to take the lead for Minnesota.
Brian Schmetzer’s halftime talk must have worked because Seattle didn’t take any time to get back in the game once the second half started. In the 49th minute Cristian Roldan was brought down in the box after dribbling through multiple defenders, and Raúl Ruidíaz stepped up to the spot to take the penalty. Loons’ goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair guessed right and got a hand to the shot, but Ruidíaz’s shot had too much power to be stopped and the game was level.
In the 74th minute, Cristian Roldan took the lead with an incredible goal, turning and hitting a fade-away shot from deep into the corner. It was a tense final 15 minutes as Minnesota pushed for an equalizer, but their hopes were dashed as stoppage time ran out. Albert Rusnák spotted Cristian Roldan with space in behind down the right side and hit a ball for him to run onto. From the end line Roldan cut the ball back across the penalty area, setting up perfectly for a late run into the box from Nico Lodeiro. Lodeiro kept his composure and tucked the shot inside the far post to make it a 3-1 win for the Sounders.
It’s a short turnaround for Seattle, as they’re back in action with a road trip to face Houston Dynamo on Wednesday, May 18.
5’ — Twice in quick succession the Sounders nearly open the scoring, but both Raúl Ruidíaz’s shot and Jordan Morris’s attempt were managed by Dayne St. Clair.
12’ — Minnesota just misses the first goal of the game, but Robin Lod’s shot is pushed wide of the goal by Stefan Frei.
25’ — Frei comes up big, denying Minnesota a goal from a point blank header. Frei tips the ball off the bar and Nouhou clears it out of the area.
29’ — Jordan Morris gets in behind the Minnesota defense after burning Brent Kallman with a quick change of pace, and his cross finds Cristian Roldan, but the header is just wide.
30’ — Moments after the Sounders near goal Minnesota marches down to the other end, but the resulting shot is similarly only just beyond the goal post.
32’ — Morris chips St. Clair, but hits the far post following some lovely play from Albert Rusnák and Raúl Ruidíaz to send him in.
34’ — Nouhou bobbles the ball as he attempts to intercept a pass inside the area, and it rolls through to Robin Lod who puts it in the net for Minnesota. 0-1 Loons
49’ — Cristian Roldan drives through two defenders into the penalty box and is tackled on his way. The ref awards a penalty to the Sounders.
50’ — Sounders goal! Ruidíaz steps up to take the penalty and St. Clair gets and hand on it but can’t keep it out as he dives to his left. 1-1
70’ — Seattle manufacture an excellent look for Rusnák near thee penalty spot, but the ‘keeper reads it well and dives to catch the shot.
74’ — CRISTIAN ROLDAN!!! Roldan puts the Sounders in the lead with a golazo! On the turn, fading away, he sends it into the corner beyond the keeper. 2-1
90’ +4 — Nico Lodeiro finishes it off! Cristian Roldan cuts the ball back from the end line and finds Lodeiro’s late run into the box for a far post finish. 3-1 Sounders
Sweet Stefan Frei: Stefan Frei was left with little he could do on Minnesota’s opening goal, and while he and the defense faced plenty of shots he wasn’t called upon to make many saves. When he was asked to make saves, though, he stepped up in spectacular fashion, denying two very good looks in the opening half-hour of the game. In total, he was credited with three saves on the night, but it’s easy to see how the game could have played out quite differently if not for those early interventions. Frei has shown a spectacular ability to keep the Sounders in games or hold onto leads throughout his time in Seattle, and this was no exception.
Christening the Cristian Roldan Hat Trick: It’s a thing now, and we’ve all just got to get on board. A Cristian Roldan Hat Trick — a goal, an assist and a drawn penalty in one game — is emblematic of his consistent ability to impact the team’s attack in a variety of ways. Whether he’s done it before or not, his performance today shows the quality, vision and tenacity that defines Roldan’s game. He’s a menace, and MLS teams have been put on notice.
Getting back to work: Coach Brian Schmetzer and the players all shared the same sentiment after the game: this wasn’t necessarily a must-win game, but it was important to win it nonetheless. There’s a lot of season left to be played, and the Sounders no longer have other competitions to focus on, and this home game ahead of a short road trip - especially with a congested schedule - was a good opportunity to build some confidence, make use of their home-field advantage, and start stacking some points. Schmetzer made it very clear in his press conference, “Just because we won Champions League does not mean that it’s a successful season.” The team has high expectations, and winning this game is just a part of meeting them.
Did you see that?!?
He said what?!?
Schmetzer: ‘Cristian has been doing that a long long time. He causes penalties because he attacks the box. That’s part of who he is.’— Jeremiah Oshan (@JeremiahOshan) May 15, 2022
Brian Schmetzer on Cristian Roldan’s ability to win penalties.
One stat to tell the tale
218 — Today’s 3-1 win was the Sounders’ first win by more than one goal in league play since a 4-1 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps on Oct. 9, 2021.
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