A match that was billed as a marquee heavyweight matchup didn’t necessarily live up to the hype, but the 0-0 draw between Seattle Sounders and LAFC was still an interesting matchup. Here’s five things we saw on Saturday:
Ragen Injury, Arreaga’s future
Jackson Ragen went off injured in the 55th minute against LAFC with what’s being described as a rib injury. He collided with Stefan Frei in the first half and that appears to be when he picked up his knock and we don’t know the extent of Ragen’s injury.
Xavier Arreaga got his first minutes of the season on Saturday and was mostly fine in possession and had a couple defensive lapses. He also should’ve scored on a corner kick but headers are hard. Obviously, if Ragen is set to miss any time, it’s assumed that Arreaga would be grafted back into the starting lineup. I have concerns about him, but I’ll let Friend of the Blog Ian sum it up nicely:
Arreaga has shown himself to be a solid defender, but that partnership with Yeimar was pretty perilous at times, so I understand why Schmetzer has given that role to Ragen. That being said, you know, JP is there now, Nouhou seems quite improved. This is why you have a squad!— person of no interest (@ahandleforian) March 18, 2023
A missed opportunity
LAFC was playing their fourth match in 10 days on Saturday because of their participation in CCL. The Sounders came into this game with the fresher legs and the home field advantage. LAFC played like they had tired legs and it seemed like their game plan was to have a big first 15 minutes and then try to kill the momentum for the rest of the game. They did half of that, at least.
If the Sounders were just 10% better on Saturday I think they would’ve won that game comfortably. A point against LAFC, who may well be the best team in the league, is objectively good. In a weird way, it’s kinda cool to feel like the Sounders should’ve gotten more from a game like this. They weren’t getting these points last season.
Nullified LAFC’s Press
My biggest worry heading into this match was how Seattle would deal with LAFC’s press after not doing well against FC Cincinnati’s press last week. LAFC is better than Cincy in every facet of the game. Perhaps playing such a good press last week made Seattle much more prepared for LAFC this week.
It took about 12 minutes for the Sounders to figure out what to do against LAFC. Instead of playing to LA’s strengths, Seattle just played around them. Literally. The Sounders would overload the wings with Lodeiro attacking very wide on either the left or right flanks, depending on where Seattle had possession. It worked really, really well and up until Aaron Long kicked Stefan Frei, I felt the Sounders were building towards a goal.
A weak bench trend
This is the second straight week where the Sounders needed to win the match from the bench and weren’t able to. Subs can spark life into a match or bring a different look, but so far subbing Leo Chú on this season doesn’t do either of those things, especially when Seattle is subbing off Raúl Ruidíaz and João Paulo. I think Chú can still offer something of value this season, but if he’s the best attacking option on the bench, we might have some issues. Thankfully, Héber should be healthy soon.
It wasn’t Nicolas Lodeiro’s most impressive match ever, but I think it shows us that any worries about decline are premature. He’s been so good this season and he was the one who made things tick against LAFC. Alex Roldan mentioned in the preseason that some of the tactical tweaks the coaching staff have made will get the best out of Lodeiro, and I think we’re seeing that bear fruit.