SEATTLE — Needing to pick up steam and put together a run of results in order to climb into the playoff race, the Seattle Sounders did just that as they hosted Austin FC.
In their 3-0 home win, Brian Schmetzer’s side didn’t waste much time getting on the board as Raúl Ruidíaz gave Seattle the lead in the 12th minute. Alex Roldan received the ball on the wing from Xavier Arreaga, and quickly played Jordan Morris in behind the defense. Morris cut the ball back for Nico Lodeiro, who squared it for Ruidíaz to smash into the roof of the net, setting the tone for the rest of the half.
In the 34th minute Ruidíaz found a second goal, extending the lead as Morris set him up for what was a pretty straight forward finish from the top of the 6-yard box.
Both sides pushed for the game’s third goal as the first half ended and the second half started, but ultimately the game’s final goal came in the 68th minute as Seattle benefitted from an own goal off of some excellent set-piece service from Lodeiro. As Xavier Arreaga makes a run from near goal towards the top of the box, Austin centerback Ruben Gabrielsen turned to follow him and the ball went off his back and into the net.
Austin would come close to a consolation goal in the 83rd, but Diego Fagundez’s touch put the ball just wide of the post as the Sounders picked up their first shutout since their 1-0 win against FC Dallas on Aug. 2. This also marks the team’s first back-to-back wins since beating Charlotte FC and Vancouver Whitecaps on May 29 and June 14.
5’ — Seattle’s first look of the game comes as Albert Rusnák drives down the left channel before cutting a ball across the box to Raúl Ruidíaz whose shot is right at Brad Stuver.
9’ — Austin’s first shot comes off of an incredible touch from Maxi Urruti and some good passing and moment around the box, but Stefan Frei catches the eventual shot.
12’ — Seattle take the lead! Ruidíaz finishes off the play as Jordan Morris finds Nico Lodeiro inside the box before Lodeiro squares it for Ruidíaz to smash home. 1-0 Sounders
34’ — Ruidíaz AGAIN! Alex Roldan plays a beautiful through ball from Morris to run onto, and Morris squares the ball top of the 6-yard box where Ruidíaz tucks it away. 2-0
38’ — If there’s any more proof that you need that Nouhou’s goal reversed Seattle’s fortunes, Austin’s near miss after a free kick bounces around the box should do it.
68’ — And an now goal makes it three! A free kick in from Nico Lodeiro goes in off of the back of Austin defender Ruben Gabrielsen. 3-0
83’ — Austin get a good look as Diego Fagundez pops up on the back post off of Roldan’s shoulder, but his attempted finish goes to the wrong side of the post.
Midfield minors: For a second straight game Schmetzer started the central duo of Josh Atencio and Danny Leyva. It’s not necessarily a coincidence, then, that the team also recorded a second straight win. The pair allowed both of Lodeiro and Rusnák to take up more dangerous starting positions and cause Austin’s defense all sorts of trouble. But it’s worth appreciating what Atencio and Leyva did themselves, not just what they allowed others to do. The two players helped the Sounders maintain possession and navigate Austin’s pressure, as Atencio completed 42 of 46 attempted passes in his 76 minutes while Leyva went 56 for 63 and played the full match. They combined to play 14 passes into the final third, added 13 recoveries, and won 13 of 19 total duels between them. If this is the midfield for the rest of 2022, I like the team’s chances.
Gaining momentum: It’s maybe a little too early to start talking about what the Sounders could do in the playoffs, but if they do make it the team has to like their chances against just about anyone. Josh Atencio touched on that after the game, noting how beating the No. 2 2 team in the West gives them confidence. Other teams should worry too, as a Seattle team with a head of steam and Ruidíaz in goal-scoring form is the kind of side that can claim serious silverware like they did in CCL earlier this year.
Defense wins championships: Coach Schmetzer touched on how the team’s performance felt like a continuation, a building-upon from good performances with significant flaws from earlier in the season. The defense was a major part of that, as the team claimed their first shutout in over a month. In the six games played in that span, the Sounders gave up 13 goals. Even when scoring multiple goals, which they did twice, they weren’t even guaranteeing themselves a win. Tonight, though, the defense played mostly mistake-free against a team that’s proven themselves capable of punishing sloppy teams. There were bounces that went Seattle’s way, something that didn’t seem like it had happened much recently, but the team created their own luck and it paid off. If this is how they play during the home stretch, they’ll be in the playoffs looking for a third MLS Cup.
Did you see that?!?
The buildup on the second goal was really something to behold.
He said what?!?
Schmetzer: ‘I’m a big believer that defense wins championships but it’s good to have Raul Ruidíaz too.’— Jeremiah Oshan (@JeremiahOshan) September 11, 2022
One stat to tell the tale
88 — Raúl Ruidíaz’s brace was the first brace recorded by a Sounder since he had one against Vancouver on June 14.
Man of the match
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