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Sounders can’t land punch early, get knocked down late

Sounders focus on taking advantage of opportunities.

Syndication: The Enquirer Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

For the first time in the still-nascent stages of the Major League Soccer season, the Seattle Sounders had to play from behind.

It won’t be the last time, surely, but it was perhaps a bit unexpected in that for the first 62 minutes of the match, the Sounders were in a comfortable, if not dominant position against hosts FC Cincinnati. But it did harken back to last year’s road struggles, with the Sounders punished for a momentary lapse, and unable to respond.

In the first two matches, the Sounders were able to get early goals (Cristian Roldan 25th minute versus Colorado; Jordan Morris 35th minute versus Real Salt Lake) that helped set the tone for the match. And had Morris put away his chance in the 15th minute, the match would have taken a different tenor. It’s a lesson that taking advantages of their opportunities — particularly on the road — will be essential if the Sounders want to avoid another season like 2022.

Playing from behind on the road is especially dangerous, as Jordan Morris noted after the match. “It can be hard in environments like this when the [home] team scores and the crowd gets more into it.”

Morris noted that he could have done better with his chance early, but Coach Brian Schmetzer said that the attack generally wasn’t where it was in the opening two matches. “In the first two games at home, we were a bit cleaner in our transition moments,” Schmetzer said. “It seemed like whenever we got the ball back, we couldn’t connect the first or second or third pass. I thought we could have done a bit better in those moments.”

After conceding, the Sounders were able to respond and put the hosts under some pressure, but they weren’t able to create more than a few chances. “We were able to get into the final third and establish some possession,” right back Alex Roldan said. “I think it was unfortunate during that time we weren’t able to find a goal. Capitalizing on those things is going to be a big part of our success this year.”

When they were able to get possession and advance the ball, Schmetzer said the Sounders weren’t as disciplined as they could have been, particularly when FC Cincinnati lost a man to a red card late. “We might have had more time to play instead of dumping long balls into Yeimar so early,” Schmetzer said.

To prevent those situations, Roldan said it will be important to cash in on their chances when they have them. “How can we get in front of the other team and make sure we’re on top before they’re able to capitalize on their opportunities” Roldan said.

Even with the disappointing result, Schemetzer said he is not worried about a repeat of last year’s road struggles. “It’s three games into the season, we knew this was going to be a tough test,” Schmetzer said. “I don’t think these guys are going to throw in the towel. I don’t think it’s anything like last year.”

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