SEATTLE — The Seattle Sounders kicked off their 2023 MLS campaign on Sunday night at home against the Colorado Rapids with a 4-0 win that included a Jordan Morris brace. Thanks to goals from Morris and Cristian Roldan, the Sounders took a 2-0 lead into the halftime break as they capitalized on the best chances the team was able to create against a Rapids side flush with new talent and promise, but missing some key contributors.
The second half went much the same as the first. Less than 10 minutes into the second half the Sounders seemed like they may have squandered a dangerous counter by getting overly complicated and cute, but when Lalas Abubakar sold out to block a Nico Lodeiro cross the ball sat up in the area for Héber to run onto and hammer home for his first Sounders goal in his MLS debut for the club. Seattle kept pushing, getting a fourth from Morris as he headed in a ball after a corner bounced around in the box in the 83rd minute. Léo Chú nearly got on the scoresheet with a few dangerous runs, but his passes just missed the mark by the narrowest of margins. In the end the Sounders will be happy with a dominant start to the MLS season.
2’ — Darren Yapi dribbles at the Sounders defense and gets a shot off that pings the crossbar before going out for a goal kick.
4’ — João Paulo sends Alex Roldan down the right channel with Cristian for company; Alex cuts in onto his left foot at the top of the box and nails the crossbar for Seattle’s first look.
25’ — GOAL! It takes a couple of attempts, but Cristian Roldan heads Seattle into the lead after receiving a cross from Jordan Morris on the right side to the back post. 1-0 Sounders
45’ — Jordan Morris makes it two! Nico Lodeiro hits a laser towards the 6-yard box on the half-volley, and after it bounces around, Morris stoops low to head it home. 2-0
53’ — That’s three! Héber adds to the lead, pouncing on a wayward ball in the 6-yard box after Lalas Aboubakar blocked a ball from Lodeiro. 3-0
58’ — Héber nearly grabs another! Morris races in behind down the right side and finds Héber for the cutback, whose finish nearly nutmegs William Yarbrough.
67’ — Stefan Frei comes up with a big save against Darren Yapi, stuffing the striker alone in the box.
83’ — Jordan Morris again! Lodeiro sends in a corner that Jackson Ragen connects with, but the ball bounces around before finding Morris at the back post to head home. 4-0
Earning their extensions: Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan both signed new long-term contracts ahead of this season, and immediately started making good on those deals. Each scored in the first half to take a 2-0 lead into halftime, and while neither will get assists for them they both helped to create the chances that the other scored from. With the two players manning the flanks — and even occasionally switching sides — Seattle has skilled chance-creators and goal-scorers in their primes stationed out wide for the foreseeable future. Morris added another late on to secure a brace and put a candle on the opening victory.
João Paulo is back! João Paulo’s absence was acutely felt throughout last season after he went out of the CCL Final with an ACL injury. But now he’s back, and the Sounders are so much better for it. His stats don’t jump off the page — 4 for 9 on ground duels, 1 chance created, 79% passing on 63 attempts — but the timing of his interventions, and the passes he chooses to play make all the difference. His ability to pop up and come away with a loose ball or win a challenge and immediately shift his attention forward to pick out a pass for a teammate making a run completely unsettles opponents and makes the entire Sounders team harder to defend. His willingness to fully commit to every challenge, every run, whatever is asked of him spurs this team on. This Seattle Sounders team just can’t operate the way they ideally want to without him, and now that he’s back so are the Sounders.
Playing to your strengths: The Sounders have a new system of play for this season when they’re in possession that involves pushing Jordan Morris, Alex and Cristian Roldan up into attack and shifting Nouhou into a third centerback role that’s designed to cater to the strengths of the team’s best players and get those guys into dangerous positions more often. Against the Rapids that didn’t come into play much, as Colorado’s approach to the game offered Seattle plenty of opportunities to attack in transition or go direct rather than being more patient with possession. That approach produced the first three goals of the game, as Cristian Roldan and Jordan Morris terrorized the Colorado fullbacks and left the defense chasing streaks of Rave Green around the field.
Did you see that?!?
A debut delight for Héber as he finishes off the attacking sequence.
Héber scores his first goal as a Sounder— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) February 27, 2023
Watch #SEAvCOL for free on @AppleTV: https://t.co/yYPwrwSsJk pic.twitter.com/mxNmCZSq9f
He said what?!?
It seems like Héber is going to like it here.
Heber on the atmosphere: ‘I think this is the first time in a long time I felt exactly how I felt playing in Brazil. I felt the goosebumps. It’s a very unique feeling and I’m very happy.’— Jeremiah Oshan (@JeremiahOshan) February 27, 2023
One stat to tell the tale
4 — The Seattle Sounders had 4 unassisted goals in their 4-0 win, a club record.
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