There’s no better way to start a season than with an absolute trouncing. The Seattle Sounders overmatched the Colorado Rapids on Sunday night as they cruised to a 4-0 victory. Here’s five things I saw from the win:
Killers in transition
I wrote at length during the preseason about the Sounders’ tactical setup in possession. We did not get to see much of that on Sunday night because of the way the Rapids played. It wasn’t so much about how Colorado stopped Seattle in possession, but they gave the Sounders a much more efficient way forward.
I don’t profess to know exactly what Robin Fraser was thinking, but allow me to try while being generous to the opposition. The Rapids were without their best Nos. 6 and 9 for this match, and the replacements were young kids. What this resulted in was Colorado playing an aggressively high back line and hoping their young midfield and fullbacks could press as aggressively. Needless to say, it did not work and it opened up a bunch of space for the Sounders to attack into space.
Are we seeing Jordan 3.0?
Jordan Morris was unplayable on Sunday night. It’s only one game, at the beginning of a season, against an opponent set up to be punished by his play style. HOWEVER, with those caveats out of the way, Jordan hasn’t looked this good since 2020 when he was a league MVP candidate.
I’m not a doctor or a sports scientist, so take this with a grain of salt, but there’s a lot of data to suggest that players who recover from an ACL tear are better two seasons after recovering. That would, of course, explain why Jordan was much better in 2020 than 2019. It could also mean that he plays much better this season than he did last. Something to keep an eye on.
By the way, the bleached hair is a 10/10 from me. Perfect. No notes.
Emperor’s Nouhou Groove
As I mentioned above, we didn’t really get to see the Sounders settle into possession much because of the way Colorado was just begging to get beat on the break. However, the aspects of Nouhou’s new role were still on display. Michael Barrios is past his best as a player, but he’s still a tough winger to have to defend and worry about. But it’s not Nouhou’s shutdown defense that got my attention, it’s what he did in offensive phases that I want to praise.
This new underlapping fullback role fits his skillset so well. Having some combination of Nicolás Lodeiro, Albert Rusnák, and/or Morris off to his left while he’s able to dribble forward, lay the ball off, and continue a forward run was a nightmare for the Rapids’ press. The sequence that did it for me was in the first half when he was able to break the Colorado press, progress the ball forward, and make a run all the way into the box. Sure, it didn’t result in a goal or anything, but it was such a positive play. More of that please.
João Paulo & Rusnák back at their best
There’s few things I love more than watching central midfielders absolutely ball out. That’s why I enjoyed Sunday night so much. João Paulo and Rusnák were feeling themselves and dropping dimes. Just two dudes on the same wavelength all night.
On a more serious note, perhaps the reason why Colorado’s press was so shockingly bad was because these two made it look so bad. You can see their quality on the first two goals where both were able to break the press with ease and play inch-perfect balls into the channels that led to the goals. Even for the brief moment that Colorado looked threatening, they were able to wrest control of the match and calm things down.
The clean sheet is as important as the four goals scored
We’re all flying high after a 4-0 victory and rightfully so. But I want to take everyone back to when it was 1-0 toward the end of the first half because there’s a very near alternative reality where we’re feeling different today.
g+ GameFlow: MLS Regular Season @SoundersFC v @ColoradoRapids on February 26, 2023. #Sounders #VamosSounders #Rapids96 #SEAvCOL pic.twitter.com/JdxR6bI2he— GameFlow (@GameFlowxPG) February 27, 2023
The Sounders had missed some decent chances to make it 2-0 before Colorado had a golden opportunity to make it 1-1 going into the half. Seattle does well to weather the storm and march up the field to make it 2-0, effectively killing the game at that point. Great teams can get sucker-punched but what they do following those moments speaks volumes. This is MLS and those sucker punches will come, but snuffing out Colorado’s only real threat on the evening was so, so important. The Sounders effectively made a 1-1 scoreline into 2-0, thus making the second half a procession of great vibes.