clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Little things doom Sounders in Morocco

Offense fizzles as late goal sends them home early.

Seattle Sounders FC v Al Ahly FC: 2nd Round - FIFA Club World Cup Morocco 2022 Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

In close matches, it’s usually one or two moments that can swing the outcome of a game.

The Seattle Sounders learned that lesson the hard way Saturday, after playing Al Ahly even or better for nearly 90 minutes in their historic FIFA Club World Cup opener. With the match looking destined for a 30-minute extra time, the Sounders fell victim to a bad pass, a failed clearance and a desperately unlucky deflection.

As a result, their stay in Morocco will be a short one.

While the Sounders can take some solace in a solid performance — particularly defensively — the concession of a goal in the dying moments of the match will leave a bitter taste in their mouths on the long flight home.

A solemn head coach Brian Schmetzer noted he was proud of the team’s performance in their first competitive match since October, but that won’t mask the disappointment of the result.

“It was an even game, I thought both teams were good in moments,” Schmetzer said. “We make one little mistake, give the ball away in that part of the field. They hit the cross bar, we had the chance to clear it and it drops to the player and he shoots and Alex [Roldan] tries to block it and it goes in the goal.

“It’s really unfortunate after all the effort the players put in.”

Given that Al Ahly was not particularly dangerous in front of goal, the manner of the game-deciding goal was especially difficult for the players to take.

“Unfortunate to lose on a goal like that,” goalkeeper Stefan Frei said. “It’s a scramble on that point. Alex is upset about the deflection. It’s unfortunate [because] I don’t know if that ball is on frame. Maybe the turnover to begin that sequence is the one that we want to look at and eliminate that one.”

While the Sounders defense looked to be ready for the MLS regular season, the attack still needs some preseason work, as they mustered a few half chances and one shot on goal.

“I think that’s where we let ourselves down today,” Sounders winger Jordan Morris said. “We did a good job of building up to the final third but couldn’t put the last pass together or get a good shot off. Something work on early in the season and continue to get better.”

The Sounders will have plenty of time to review film and refine tactics on the training pitch, but the immediate thoughts were on the failure to advance and set up a glamor date with Real Madrid.

“We worked really the hard the whole game, worked well as a team defensively,” Morris said. “To lose on a goal like that is hard to take. These chances don’t come around that often and you want to take advantage of them. We wanted to win and move on so I think the guys are disappointed.”

The Sounders still made history by becoming the first MLS team to represent the North American continent in the Club World Cup, and this iteration of the tournament could be the last one as plans are afoot to expand it and move it to every four years. Morris said he was happy with how the team represented itself even if the outcome was disappointing.

“Being here is a huge honor and we’re proud of how we represented the league,” Morris said. “Being the first team to be here that’s something we’ll always be incredibly proud of so we have to hold our heads in that sense. They’re a very good team but to lose on a goal like that is tough.”

With the Sounders time in Morocco cut shorter than they would have liked, Schmetzer said the focus will be on getting the team ready for the MLS regular season and preventing any hangover effect from the loss.

“The guys are pretty determined,” Schmetzer said. “The guys understand that things happen. They do not want this to put a damper on the regular season. We have the next objective. There were some good moments in there, some things to build on.”

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Sounder At Heart Weekly Roundup newsletter!

A twice weekly roundup of Seattle Sounders and OL Reign news from Sounder at Heart