Truth be told, the weather delay should have been seen as an omen. Things started well, but a second half collapse saw the Seattle Sounders lose 3-2 against Orlando City following a nearly two-hour delay.
Seattle took the lead in the 26th minute thanks to a beautifully taken free kick from Albert Rusnák. Not five minutes later, Jimmy Medranda was whistled for a penalty after he tripped up Nico Gioacchini inside the box. Stefan Frei, though, stood his ground and stopped Mauricio Pereyra’s penalty and Jackson Ragen made sure no goal came from the rebound. The Sounders held on for dear life and were rewarded with the halftime whistle, still leading 1-0.
In the 52nd minute Raúl Ruidíaz doubled the lead, putting away a loose ball after a cross from Jordan Morris, and it seemed like maybe Seattle really could turn the season around.
While the Sounders were still practically celebrating their goal, Orlando came down the field from the kickoff and several players were left with entirely too much space as João Moutinho found Facundo Torres, who hit a shot from the top of the box that beat Frei to shrink Seattle’s lead to one goal.
15 minutes later Jordan Morris was called for a handball on a corner and Orlando had their second penalty of the night. Ercan Kara stepped up to the spot this time and sunk his PK, evening the score.
Both sides had looks at goal, but it seemed like Seattle still might come away with a point until the game rolled into stoppage time. In the first minute of stoppage Orlando appeared to score a goal, then it was waved off due to an offside player, but after video review it was determined that the deflection came off of Jackson Ragen and the offside player was irrelevant. That’s just how things have gone this season, I suppose.
22’ — Jimmy Medranda hits an early cross that just slips over the head of Rodrigo Schlegel for Raúl Ruidíaz, but the shot from a tight angle goes wide of goal.
26’ — GOLAZO! Albert Rusnák stands over a free kick just outside the box and bends his shot through a gap in the wall and into the side netting to take the lead. 1-0 Sounders
30’ — Jimmy Medranda trips Nico Gioacchini inside the box, giving away a penalty.
32’ — Mauricio Pereyra takes the penalty and Stefan Frei dives right to make the save. Jackson Ragen slides in to block the follow-up shot and it goes out for a corner.
36’ — Frei makes a spectacular one-handed save on a header from the middle of the box, tipping it over the crossbar.
52’ — Ruidíaz makes it two! Jordan Morris beats a man to get into the box and smashes the ball in to Ruidíaz. The initial ball is blocked, but Ruidíaz puts away the rebound. 2-0
53’ — Orlando come right down to the other end and Facundo Torres beats Frei with a shot from the top of the box. 2-1
65’ — Frei makes another great save, as he uses both hands to knock a shot heading for the upper 90 away and out for a corner.
68’ — After Jordan Morris is called for a handball on a corner, Ercan Kara steps up to the spot and Frei isn’t able to keep this one out. 2-2
82’ — Nico Lodeiro pulls up from distance with an eye for the far corner, but Pedro Gallese is able to paw the shot away for a corner.
90’ + 1 — Orlando take their first lead of the game as a cross deflects into the goal off of Jackson Ragen. 3-2 Orlando
Dude, where’s my defense? The Sounders have given up 38 goals in 28 games, for an average of roughly 1.36 goals allowed per game. If that holds, it would be the third worst defensive record for the team since joining MLS. It’s not good, and it’s kind of difficult to understand why it’s happening. The absence of João Paulo in midfield is certainly a contributing factor, but the big concern is that the issue appears to be more one of mentality than actual ability. The Sounders are giving up goals on mental errors with alarming regularity, getting caught at the beginning or end of a half, or immediately after scoring a goal themselves. Players are caught looking on set-pieces, or lagging behind after giving up possession. Under Brian Schmetzer this team has historically been defensively solid and mentally strong, but in the back half of 2022 something is broken.
Attritional football: Through no fault of anyone, really, this season seems to have been incredibly costly. Having already lost JP for the season in the CCL final, the team first lost Obed Vargas for an as yet undetermined amount of time to an injury that’s basically the result of overuse. Since then Cristian Roldan has gone out with a sports hernia, and in this one Alex Roldan appeared to injure his ankle while fouling a player. He continued to play the rest of the game, but could be seen stopping in pain after any amount of exertion. Regardless of how this season ends, the opportunity to rest and recover that the offseason will hopefully provide can’t come soon enough.
The year the streaks ended: There’s a lot of talk about streaks in sports, because we all like to believe in patterns and find them where we can, and we tend to assume that if a thing has happened before it will happen again, and if a thing has happened a lot then it will keep on happening. The big one on everyone’s mind is the consecutive playoff appearance streak, which now seems likely to end at 13. There’s also been the first ever series sweep by either the Portland Timbers or the Sounders in MLS, ending an 11 year streak, and the first home win in years in a Sounders Timbers match, which ended a much shorter but still significant streak. Now the Sounders have lost to Orlando City for the first time. It’s just a full razing of the past.
Did you see that?!?
HAVE A HIT, ALBERT!! pic.twitter.com/pTXWtPZDY5— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) September 1, 2022
He said what?!?
Clearly a very frustrated group in the postgame. "It’s still a determined group. They are emotionally drained. They put a lot of effort into that game." - Schmetzer— Jeremiah Oshan (@JeremiahOshan) September 1, 2022
One stat to tell the tale
479 — Stefan Frei’s last penalty save came 479 days ago, on May 9, 2021 in a 2-1 road win against the Portland Timbers.
Man of the match
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