SEATTLE — The Seattle Sounders made a triumphant return from the international break, shaking the Vancouver Whitecaps down for a 4-0 win on Tuesday. Seattle jumped out to an early lead, with Nico Lodeiro slotting home a penalty in the 5th minute after Fredy Montero was brought down in the box by Vancouver goalkeeper Cody Cropper, and the game was never really within reach for the Whitecaps after that.
Raúl Ruidíaz spread a brace across both halves scoring in the 28th and 54th minutes, and nearly making it a hat trick in the 62nd minute before subbing off.
Seattle continued to create chances and force Vancouver into turnovers, keeping the Whitecaps from creating much in the way of real danger — Stefan Frei didn’t have to make a single save. The Sounders eventually got the goal that iced the game off in the 90th minute when Alex Roldan ran onto a lovely pass from Danny Leyva, who clearly saw the play developing ahead of everyone on the field, and smashed a shot that Cody Cropper just couldn’t keep out of the net.
It was the second time this season that the Sounders have won consecutive MLS games, and was also the team’s second MLS shutout. The Sounders are now in playoff position for the first time in 2022, sitting in 7th having played fewer games than any other team in the Western Conference. They’ll have a chance to further strengthen their position when they host LAFC on Saturday at noon.
4’ — Fredy Montero is brought down by Cody Cropper after picking up the loose ball following his own shot, earning a penalty.
5’ — Nico Lodeiro steps up to the spot and tucks his penalty into the left side of the goal! Sounders lead! 1-0
10’ — Xavier Arreaga goes into a shoulder-to-shoulder to stop an attack and both players go down, but he pops up first and plays a quick exchange with Kelyn Rowe to break pressure.
28’ — Raúl Ruidíaz doubles the lead, finishing off a play that involved some slick pass and move work and Jimmy Medranda providing the final ball. 2-0 Sounders!
37’ — Jake Nerwinski’s shot off of a corner is blocked inside the area by Jackson Ragen as the Sounders scramble to maintain the clean sheet.
51’ — Nico Lodeiro goes inches from adding another goal as he unleashes a shot for the far upper-90, but the ball strikes the front of the crossbar.
54’ — The ball cycles around Vancouver’s area until Léo Chú hits a perfectly shaped cross behind the defense. Ruidíaz bamfs into the space and pokes it home! 3-0 Sounders!
62’ — Ruidíaz rounds the ‘keeper and has a hat trick in his sights, but a last-minute defensive intervention puts it out for a corner.
90’ — Alex Roldan makes it 4! Danny Leyva plays him in on the right side, and Roldan puts his laces through the ball to beat Cropper at his near post. 4-0
Nico Lodeiro, utility player: It’s something of a flex to take one of the best attacking players in the league, a guy capable of double-digit goals and assists, and play him as part of the double-pivot in a 4-2-3-1. Brian Schmetzer and the Sounders have made it commonplace in 2022, regularly fielding Albert Rusnák there, but against the Whitecaps it was Nico Lodeiro who dropped back a line. Lodeiro was key to Seattle’s ability to keep the ball and put Vancouver under pressure quickly when they did lose possession, picking up 9 recoveries to go along with the same kind of passing and chance creation we expect from him closer to goal. It’s not the first time Lodeiro’s played in the spot for Seattle, but it’s a good reminder of how influential he can be no matter where he’s used.
Warming up: Raúl Ruidíaz has made his impact felt more than a little bit so far in 2022, with 6 goals and 1 assist in all competitions going into the game tonight, but it just hasn’t felt like he’d found his stride. In May he scored in consecutive games for the first time this season, scoring in three straight games between CCL and MLS, and nabbing a total of 5 goals across 4 games, but you knew there was another level still to go. Just missing on a hat trick against Vancouver, Ruidíaz has 5 goals in his last 5 MLS games and it now feels like — in the parlance of NBA Jam — he’s heating up. If he catches fire, the rest of the league might be in trouble.
The midfield constant: Obed Vargas, at 16 years old, has now played in every MLS game that he’s been available this season — he was suspended for the game against the Houston Dynamo due to yellow card accumulation. He’s made 20 appearances in all competitions, only not appearing in one CCL game. Vargas, whose early season appearances were something of a surprise to most, has become the lone near-constant piece in Seattle’s midfield. He’s partnered with João Paulo, Albert Rusnák and now Lodeiro, and while he’s not always set the game alight there’s a clear reason why Brian Schmetzer and the rest of the team and staff put so much trust in the thoughtful young man.
Did you see that?!?
He said what?!?
‘I think it went pretty good … we won 4-0.’ - Obed Vargas when I asked how felt the partnership with Nico went— Jeremiah Oshan (@JeremiahOshan) June 15, 2022
One stat to tell the tale
5 — Jackson Ragen went 5/5 on aerial duels against Vancouver.
Man of the match
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