The Seattle Sounders traveled to play the Chicago Fire at Soldier Field and fell 1-0 for the second time this week. To make it worse, this was the team’s third-straight loss and their fourth in the last five games.
As if there wasn’t enough to be frustrated about from that litany of poor results, the way this loss came was not too different from how the losses before it came. With the team struggling to score goals — the last time the Sounders scored was Fredy Montero’s goal against Toronto FC in the 60th minute, 300 minutes of game time ago — the defense suffered a brief blackout and let a completely unmarked player run through the penalty area. This time it was Chicago centerback Rafael Czichos making a run between Kelyn Rowe playing at right back and Xavier Arreaga, finishing off a play that started with a throw-in.
The Sounders had their moments and created some decent chances, but Chicago did a good job to make sure that even the best chances were difficult ones. Still, with the quality on the field Seattle should have had enough to find a breakthrough. Maybe that lack of sharpness is the result of a very busy week with three games in 8 days with two of them on the road, but regardless a week of training at home before the next game should do the team some good. The staff and the players need time on the training field to clean up the errors and mental mistakes, to re-integrate guys who’ve been dealing with injuries and try to get healthier. Hopefully that’s what it takes to shake this funk, because right now the Sounders are sitting just outside the playoff spots in 8th in the West, having gone 1-4-0, -4 in the last two and a half weeks.
3’ — Danny Leyva wins the ball in the midfield and drives at the defense before playing a ball to Will Bruin’s feet on the run, but the play fizzles after a good challenge.
7’ — Jordan Morris gets on a through ball from Nico Lodeiro and runs at the Chicago defense before getting a shot off that’s put over the bar by Gaga Slonina.
18’ — Stefan Cleveland makes a huge save, cleaning up after a poor touch by Yeimar before Yeimar is able to clear the rebound out of the area.
23’ — Chicago recycle the ball after a throw in and send in a ball for centerback Rafael Czichos, who is unmarked between Kelyn Rowe and Xavier Arreaga and heads home. 0-1
26’ — Stefan Cleveland comes up with another big save, this time using his feet after a runner came in unmarked off of Rowe’s back shoulder.
75’ — Chicago works through Seattle’s midfield and Xherdan Shaqiri sends in a cross that grazes over Albert Rusnák’s head before Yeimar bundles it out for a corner.
76’ — Cleveland with another important save as he tips Shaqiri’s corner just over the bar.
89’ — Lodeiro hits another through ball for Morris, who beats his man and gets a shot off but it’s blocked well by Slonina. Léo Chú earns a corner after collecting the rebound.
Are we bad now? No? Right? Like, I don’t think we’re bad. I think the Sounders are good, actually. Golly they sure are playing badly, though. I mean, the squad’s having to play without two of their best players with João Paulo out for the season and Raúl Ruidíaz unavailable due to another hamstring injury, but there’s still so much talent on the roster. This team should still be good, but good players are making weird mistakes in ways that don’t feel like one-offs at this point. I don’t know, I’m just trying to understand what’s happening right now and I’m at a loss. It stinks, but there’s more than enough talent and intelligence here to still make good on the promise of the run to the Champions League Final.
Albert Rusnák’s excellence: Albert Rusnák is extremely good. There’s been consternation over his lack of goals or assists with the Sounders, but he’s still been profoundly influential in just about everything good that the team has managed, especially since losing JP to injury. He covers a ton of ground, is a smart passer capable of the exquisite, and puts in a good defensive shift. With a player more willing or able to sit deep and provide him more freedom, he’s even more capable of proving the pass before the pass, if not outright assists. For much of today’s game that player sitting deeper was Danny Leyva, who’s done a good job recently in that role but still has plenty of room for growth. If Leyva or one of the other options in midfield can make that spot their own we could see even better things from Rusnák in the future.
Where did the goals go? Raúl Ruidíaz is out, but this is the kind of thing we’ve come to expect. He scores goals, and he misses some time every year to an injury or two. You plan for these things. You give your talented domestic players like Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan big contracts in the knowledge that they’ll earn their money. You bring in veterans with league experience and goal scoring in their blood like Will Bruin and Fredy Montero. You add top-tier talent from within the league like Rusnák and promising talent from abroad like Léo Chú. You hope for a bit of good luck, and trust that you’ve got enough to get you through the lean times. But sometimes it’s just still not enough. Bad luck, bad form, an absence of that dawg anywhere to be found. Who knows? I certainly don’t, because this team shouldn’t be going 3+ games without putting the ball in the back of the net.
Did you see that?!?
This game could have been worse without Stef Cleveland.
Cleveland Rocks pic.twitter.com/J9bu3yzVGZ— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) July 17, 2022
He said what?!?
‘I didn’t see enough. We just didn’t have that one bit of quality to get a goal.’ - schmetzer— Jeremiah Oshan (@JeremiahOshan) July 17, 2022
One stat to tell the tale
300 — The Sounders have now gone 300 minutes without scoring a goal.
Man of the match
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