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Five things we saw from Sounders’ win over Sporting KC

Jordan Morris, Leo Chu, and so much more.

Photo courtesy of Sounders FC Communications

The Seattle Sounders put in an impressive shorthanded showing on Saturday by beating a downtrodden Sporting Kansas City 4-1. The stars of the show were none other than Jordan Morris and Léo Chú, but that’s not to say the rest of the squad didn’t put in a solid performance from front to back. Here are the five most notable things we saw from Saturday’s win:

Jordan Morris this, Jordan Morris that

Fourdan Morris. Jordan Fourris. Counting to four goals? No Sweat. You pick your favorite one, it doesn’t change, Jordan Morris dropped four goals on Sporting Kansas City’s head. The first Sounders player to score four goals in an MLS match and just the 17th time ever an MLS player has scored at least that many in a game. He was also the first player to pull that off away from home since Clint Mathis scored five in a road game in 2000. All of that and he moved passed Clint Dempsey into 3rd all-time on the club record goalscorer list. Not bad.

There’s this underlying narrative that’s surrounded Morris for his whole career that he has somehow not lived up to the hype. Without derailing my entire column already and delving into a post-modern existential examination about how hype is by definition unobtainable, let’s just set it all aside. Morris does not exist for outsiders’ proxy wars about domestic talent development or the national team or anything like that. Morris plays for us. He is a Sounder. He is one of us. We should ascend above all the bullshit and enjoy what we have, because players this special do not come along too often.

Has Léo Chú arrived?

I’ll be the first one to admit that I did not have “Léo Chú ties an MLS record for assists in a single match” on my bingo card heading into this match. Or any match, really. It hadn’t been an easy beginning to Chú’s Sounders career and it seemed like this season was sort of the make-or-break point on his role with the team. Four assists in one game does, in fact, change a player’s trajectory and it will be interesting to see where Chú goes from here. I thought this quote from him during the post-match media availability was interesting:

“I had some difficulties (7) months without starting a match. I’ve been working hard. It’s a process. Moved to a new country, learned a new language, now have a baby coming. I’m glad I could help the team. Hopefully, this is a restart.”

An important thing to remember about player development is that things rarely happen on a linear timeline. Players are human beings before they are anything else and they deal with emotions and struggles just like you and I do. Hopefully, this is a restart, indeed, Leo.

Fixing the road woes

Heading into this match the Sounders were winless in 10 matches on the road (1D, 9L). Beyond that, Seattle had only won once in Kansas since 2013. Whether we liked it or not, we were going to learn a lot about this squad from this game. Look, it’s just Sporting KC. They suck this year. But all you can do is beat the team in front of you. Beating SKC like they did on Saturday will give the squad a lot of confidence on the road to more wins away from home.

Learning a lot after being punched in the mouth

To piggyback off my previous talking point, I think the way they won taught us a lot about the outlook for this season. Look, last season the Sounders would go down 1-0 in the first five minutes of a road match and the most you could realistically hope for is a draw. Of the Sounders’ three road wins, they scored first in all of them. The stench and fear of last season will admittedly linger for awhile, but the way the Sounders responded on Saturday does do a lot to freshen up the psyche and put some fears to rest.

Sporting pressed the hell out of Seattle in the build-up to their goal. Then, the Sounders decided to be completely press resistant for the next 15 minutes to kill any hope SKC had. I wrote in the preview of this match that SKC’s whole thing was to try to build up a goal from their left side through their counter press. After the goal came through just that, the Sounders avoided that side of the field for a bit by building up through Rowe, Chú, and Lodeiro. Once they got more comfortable, Seattle was able to use Roldan and Rusnák to sort of dummy SKC’s press into action on that side, meaning SKC couldn’t commit as many numbers to stopping Seattle’s left side.

No excuses for absences

During the last few MLS seasons, the Sounders have had the option to avoid playing through international breaks. That didn’t appear to be an option for any MLS club this weekend as there was a full slate of matches on Saturday. The Sounders were missing six internationals, and one more player (Héber) was missing due to injury.

Some teams in this league see the fact that missing seven key players is an excuse to lose a match 6-1, but not this Sounders team. This was an opportunity for the boys to believe in themselves, shuffle the deck tactically a bit, and go out and win a match. Well done.

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