SEATTLE — The Seattle Sounders secured their return to the playoffs by beating the LA Galaxy 2-1 at Lumen Field on Wednesday night. The win was the first home win since July 1 when the Sounders beat the Houston Dynamo 1-0. Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan bracketed the game with goals to give Seattle the win, with Morris celebrating the birth of his child and Roldan marking his full return from concussion issues with their goals.
The Sounders rode Jordan Morris’ “New Dad Bump” to an early lead. In the 9th minute possession was recycled and João Paulo twice regained or kept possession on the wing before smashing in a cross that Morris headed across goal to beat Galaxy goalkeeper Jonathan Bond and open the scoring. The rest of the half was back-and-forth, but Seattle certainly had control of the game as they took 10 shots to LA’s one although they couldn’t add to their lead.
LA answered by finding their own goal nine minutes into the second half. The Galaxy had been building up some momentum since the start of the half with a couple of dangerous opportunities prior to the goal that had only stayed out of the back of the net through Seattle’s good luck and some last-ditch defending. The breakthrough came from a bit of spectacular skill from Douglas Costa, who took a cross from Julian Aude out of the air with a touch that let him glide by three defenders and in 1-on-1 with Stefan Frei. Costa clipped the ball over the ‘keeper and ran to the corner to celebrate.
There were chances for both sides as the game grew increasingly tense, but a little home town heroism clinched all three points for the Sounders. Deeeeep into stoppage time — in the sixth minute of a minimum of five minutes of stoppage time, to be exact — Alex Roldán took a long-throw that was first flicked on by Josh Atencio to Cristian Roldan standing on the edge of the six-yard box, and Cristian left no doubt as he put his foot through the ball and sent it into the back of the net. The win clinches a place in the playoffs for the Sounders, with two games remaining for them to shore up their playoff seeding and build some more momentum as they head into the postseason.
7’ – Obed Vargas carries the ball through traffic and gets off a shot that forces a diving save from Galaxy goalkeeper Jonathan Bond.
9’ – Jordan Morris! João Paulo does really well to keep the play alive twice, then fires in a cross that Morris heads past Bond. Sounders lead 1-0
16’ – With Billy Sharp lurking in the area, the Galaxy get in behind the Sounders through Diego Fagundez who puts in a dangerous cross but Stefan Frei comes out to claim it.
17’ – The Sounders work the ball cleverly into the Galaxy’s 18-yard box and Albert Rusnák chips a cross to Léo Chú near the penalty spot, but his header goes wide of goal.
32’ – Tyler Boyd avoids a challenge from Chú and cuts a dangerous ball across goal that Frei is able to get a touch to that sends the ball clear of the box and out of danger.
50’ – Billy Sharp gets a little room between Yeimar and Alex Roldán and puts a touch on a cross, but his redirected shot goes just wide of the goal.
54’ – The Galaxy capitalize on a shift in momentum as Douglas Costa’s touch slides him through the defense before he lifts the ball over Frei to tie it up. 1-1
64’ – Rusnák dribbles towards the top of the box with little pressure and lets fly from the top of the box, but the shot is deflected and goes just wide for a corner.
72’ – The Galaxy create a dangerous moment after a turnover in Seattle’s half, but Nouhou shuts it down with a nice tackle on Tyler Boyd near the end line.
81’ – Jackson Ragen stoops to get a head on a cross in from JP after the Sounders play a short corner, but the header goes over the bar.
90’ +6 – CRISTIAN ROLDAN! Alex Roldán sends in a long throw deep in stoppage time, that’s flicked on by Josh Atencio and smashed home by Roldan to take the lead! 2-1 Sounders
Lighting up Lumen: For the first time since the 1-0 win over the Houston Dynamo on July 1, the Sounders picked up a win at home. It wasn’t exactly a high-flying affair, but a win’s a win, and it was a pretty solid performance all things considered. The Galaxy came into the game having set a league record by playing in three consecutive games in which both teams scored at least three goals, and Seattle limited them to one goal on five shots. Billy Sharp, who had racked up six goals and an assist in 402 minutes coming into the game, was limited to a single shot. For their part the Sounders took 18 shots with half of them — including both goals — clustered around LA’s six-yard box. They needed this win, and now they have a chance to add to it on Saturday when they host the Vancouver Whitecaps.
The #AtencioAgenda: The competition between Josh Atencio and Obed Vargas for the spot in midfield alongside João Paulo has been a talking point throughout the season. After strong performances recently from Atencio, including over the weekend against Nashville SC, Vargas got the nod to start. Vargas put in a strong performance, but Atencio was the one who put his name on the stat sheet with his assist for Cristian Roldan’s winner. Entering in place of JP in the 80th minute, Atencio’s assist showed just part of what he offers as his size and strength allowed him to win the header and flick Alex Roldán’s throw on inside the penalty area. Both players made strong cases, and Brian Schmetzer noted in the press conference that the competition between the two is good for them and the team as it makes them better, but those of us committed to the #AtencioAgenda are taking note.
Back in the playoffs: No one needs a rehashing of how much it sucked for the team to miss the playoffs last season. The focus now is firmly on the present and future, and this team is headed back to the playoffs. They’re in second in the West — on both points and points per game — in part because the West has been weird and kind of bad, but they secured their place in the playoffs on their own merit. With other results tonight Seattle could have clinched their spot with a draw, but it was important to the team that they accomplish that feat without depending on other results. They’re in with a shot, and now it’s about doing the work necessary to take full advantage.
Did you see that?!?
He said what?!?
On what Cristian Roldan brings to the team:
One stat to tell the tale
11 – Jordan Morris’s goal tonight was his 11th of the season, the second most regular season goals in one MLS campaign since scoring 12 in his 2016 rookie season.