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Five thoughts on Sounders’ tie with LAFC

There were encouraging moments but ultimately a frustrating result.

Hollie Coates-Seamster/Sounder at Heart

Rarely boring, and usually full of talking points, the Seattle Sounders and LAFC established a proper rivalry from the outset of the latter’s entrance into the league in 2018. LAFC memorably opened their existence in MLS with a victory at Lumen, and the Sounders struggled to obtain results in early matches. Of course that all changed in 2019 in “that match,” and since then the teams have by and large been even.

LAFC suffered a fairly shocking dip in form in 2021, leading to their failure for the first time to make the MLS Cup playoffs, and the end of their relationship with former coach Bob Bradley. The Sounders have had no such issues making the playoffs, and coach Brian Schmetzer is far more likely to get a street named after him, than be shown the door.

But even though the Sounders entered the weekend above the MLS Cup Playoff line, that status was fairly tenuous, and with a slate of home matches throughout the remainder of June, the time to start collecting points is at hand. While Saturday’s 1-1 result was not bad and increased the Sounders point tally, it did feel like two more points were there to be had, particularly as they held the lead late into the match. But the Supporters’ Shield-leading LAFC are a quality side, and results against top opposition are rarely a bad thing. It just felt like it could have been more.

Sounders undone by sloppy play

There was a lot to like about the Sounders’ performance Saturday, going toe-to-toe with the top team in the league. After a shaky start the Sounders controlled large portions of the game and created plenty of dangerous opportunities. But the number of unforced errors — some in critical areas — cost the Sounders the opportunity to get more quality chances on goal. When the Sounders did get in position to make the final pass or shot, they simply weren’t able to truly pressure LAFC’s Maxime Crépeau.

A gift for Albert Rusnák

LAFC had their own issues with sloppy play, and if the Sounders failure to clean up their own mistakes cost them a chance at all three points, LAFC similarly were victims of their own wastefulness in the 58th, when Albert Rusnák intercepted a pass from Crépeau deep in LAFC’s defensive half and slotted a shot past the Canada International. The Sounders have used a high press to good effect in recent matches, and though Rusnák has contributed in other ways, the Sounders would surely appreciate more scoring from their free-agent Designated Player.

Missing Ruidíaz

Part of the Sounders’ trouble in this one stemmed from a lack of clinical finishing when they did get in dangerous spots. Playing as more of a false-9, Fredy Montero struggled to have an impact on the match, and though Will Bruin came in and tried to provide some hold-up play, he wasn’t able to do much in front of goal. With Ruidíaz out at least one more match and possibly longer, the Sounders will have to generate offense from other places.

Lodeiro in fine form

One of those players who Schmetzer may look to pick up the scoring slack is Nicolás Lodeiro, who had a very good match and continues his good run of form. Lodeiro was all over the field, and repeatedly put his teammates in promising positions with some pinpoint passing. That Lodeiro appears back to peak form might be biggest development of the MLS season, given there was not insignificant chatter he’d never be the same again.

Hamstrung

Why is it always the hamstrings? The Sounders have seen this movie before, and it doesn’t get any more entertaining on the rewatch. With Ruidíaz and Yeimar Gómez Andrade already sidelined with hamstring strains, Xavier Arreaga became the latest victim to fall to the fated injury. Unlike at the forward position, the Sounders have depth thanks to their scouting and development of the likes of AB Cissoko and Jackson Ragen, the latter of whom had another steady match. Still, the Sounders will hope that the incidences of these injuries has been exhausted for the foreseeable future.

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