The Seattle Sounders traveled to North Carolina for the first time to take on Charlotte FC in a match that ended in a wacky 3-3 draw. On one hand, it’s nice to see the Sounders score three goals, but on the other hand they gave up the lead three times. Here are the five thoughts from Saturday night.
Can’t give up leads, let alone three
The Sounders have historically been great at keeping leads, but this season there’s been a few chips in the paint. Against Charlotte on Saturday the Sounders gave up the lead three times, including an 89th-minute equalizer to a rookie draft pick scoring his first career MLS goal. The only other time Seattle have given up the lead this season was in Portland. When good teams are playing poorly, they can’t give up the lead three times in a game.
Mental mistakes prove costly, yet again
In isolation, all three of Charlotte’s goals were “unlucky” from a Sounders’ perspective, however all three had a common theme of mental lapses. Seattle had four defenders marking two Charlotte players in the box on their first goal. Obed Vargas plays a low-percentage pass under pressure, then overcommits on an attempted slide tackle and Ashley Westwood is able to score a banger. Then, in the 89th minute Charlotte equalizes on a goal that bounces off the back of a rookie’s head after no one contested the cross. Several Sounders players could’ve made different decisions to prevent any or all of Charlotte’s goals.
The goals are coming
Raúl Ruidíaz scored twice and Cristian Roldan scored once in what was one of the Sounders' best offensive displays all season. The biggest issue plaguing the Sounders of late has been finishing in front of net and if a healthy Roldan and Ruidíaz remedies that then Seattle should be good in the long run. This is the first time in 10 matches that the Sounders have scored multiple goals in a league match.
Obviously, the Sounders’ underlying numbers had been “fine” offensively even without Roldan and Ruidíaz, but the results had gone a little wonky. Sometimes a team has bad luck, but having better players in better positions to score helps everyone in the long run.
Other results going our way?
The Sounders’ run of form recently hasn’t been good but neither has anyone else’s in the West to be honest. St. Louis City failed to beat a Chicharito-less LA Galaxy team over the weekend and they lost to FC Dallas before that. LAFC has like a billion games in hand but they couldn’t beat Atlanta on Wednesday and got absolutely shelled by Houston Dynamo on Saturday.
If we sort of set aside the hopes and dreams of winning a Supporters’ Shield this season, the Sounders aren’t actually in that bad of a situation. FC Cincinnati is currently on pace to set a record for points in a season, so they sit in a great position for that trophy. However, finishing first in the Western Conference is not only doable, but seems reasonably likely. St. Louis has some voodoo underlying numbers and a regression to the mean is completely within the realm of probability. LAFC have to deal with a post-CCL Final hangover, and while they might be better equipped than anyone to deal with it, it’s still something they have to do. Games in hands are only theoretical points. They have to play those games and are currently in the midst of a brutal stretch of 14 games in about seven weeks. They’ll have played two more games before facing the Sounders on June 21.
A much-needed vibes reset
Seattle are now going to go 10 days without a game, the longest scheduled break they’ll have all season (potential Leagues Cup elimination notwithstanding). The teams around them in the standings are dealing with their own issues and the Sounders finally have a chance to catch their breath and assess their health. Sure, they are winless in their last three matches but now they have six matches before the Leagues Cup to make some hay in the league. If the Sounders can use this break as a mental reset and make sure everyone stays healthy, they can be in a great position by the time Leagues Cup comes around. And hey, wouldn’t it be cool to be the first MLS team to win Leagues Cup?