SEATTLE — The Seattle Sounders made it a point of emphasis prior to Sunday’s match against the Colorado Rapids to start the season off on the right foot.
They did that and then some.
After an early scare from the Rapids on a shot that bounced off the crossbar of Stefan Frei’s goal, the Sounders were able to regroup and put two goals past the Rapids in the first half, on their way to a four-goal performance that they hope will serve notice to the rest of Major League Soccer.
Of course, one game does not a season make, and the Sounders will have to quickly put this match behind them. But there was a lot to like about this performance.
An early goal in the 25th minute got the Sounders the quick start they were hoping for, and the four goal tally will ease concerns about the Sounders’ attack. And the clean sheet was reminiscent of the Sounders defenses of years past — stout and able to withstand pressure at key points without breaking.
The 4-0 thumping over a Rapids team that seemed to run out of gas in the second half might not be enough to declare the Sounders title favorites, but it at least provides some satisfaction for a team bitterly disappointed about how the 2022 season ended. “I can’t say what I said in the locker room before the game because there were a few swear words involved,” Head Coach Brian Schmetzer said. “But we do want to make this a fortress. We do want to make sure that we play at home. It felt like teams would come in here and steal points from us, so we’re trying to correct it.”
For the Sounders players, it’s clear the messaging about putting the “advantage” back in home field has stuck with them. “For the group, the mentality going into this year, I’m sure it’s been spoken about, but we haven’t really made Lumen a fortress like before,” Sounders winger Jordan Morris said after the match. “I think during our championship years and our runs, we’d make this place a place no one wanted to come play. We needed to get back to that this year and Stef [Frei] echoed that in the huddle right before the game, that this was important to get off on the right foot at home.”
Scoring early in the first half got the Sounders in the mood, but it was the second goal that Schmetzer said was the key. “The second goal was very important, the timing of the second goal was very important,” Schmetzer said.
New acquisition Héber was also able to get in on the action, effectively putting the match out of reach with right-place-right-time goal. “We have players who have great quality, and we can create those opportunities and transform them into goals,” Héber said. “More importantly, we need to make our home a place where it’s hard for opponents to play. The fans they are the 12th player. They bring the energy and it’s very important.”
Schmetzer said that the goal now will be to use this performance to springboard them through the first part of the regular season. “We are now motivated to try and replicate this type of performance, and replicate [it] a bunch of times throughout the early part of the season to see if we can’t make a strong run and really get the season started on a good note,” Schmetzer said.