SEATTLE— The Seattle Sounders hosted Minnesota United on Saturday night in what has become Adrian Heath’s personal hell. Seattle won 1-0 thanks to a lovely flash of skill from Fredy Montero and a well-taken goal from Albert Rusnák late in the second half.
The first 60 minutes were hardly the most fun hour of football you’re likely to see. Neither team created a ton of opportunities, there were more yellow cards than clear chances, and Minnesota took an approach that was largely geared to make sure that was the case. They compressed the field and frustrated Seattle, limited runs in behind from Léo Chú and largely kept Héber from getting into the area where he’s most able to impact a game.
Then in the 66th minute Brian Schmetzer brought in Jordan Morris and Fredy Montero for Héber and Obed Vargas, and things got a little more interesting. Morris’s fresh legs and aggressive runs put the Loons under more pressure, Chú found some more joy down the left, and Minnesota were suddenly spending more time backed into their own end.
That pressure ultimately produced a winner for Seattle in the 79th minute. Seattle won a throw-in deep in Minnesota territory on the right side, and Alex Roldan stepped up with the throw. He found Montero in the 18-yard box, and Montero came up with a lovely little flick back to the top of the box for an on-rushing Albert Rusnák. Rusnák hammered it the ball low and back across goal to beat Dayne St. Clair to give the Sounders a 1-0 lead. Seattle did the rest as they kept pushing for a second goal while making sure the one would be enough by keeping Minnesota from generating any real danger over the final 10+ minutes.
The win marks Seattle’s first 1-0 win of the season, and the fifth straight home shutout as they still haven’t been scored on at Lumen Field in 2023.
3’ — Possession is recycled after a corner and Kelyn Rowe plays a dangerous ball for Jackson Ragen to run onto, but Dwayne St. Clair catches the cross.
11’ — Minnesota make a push into Seattle’s end as Mender Garcia runs with the ball down the right and plays a dangerous cross, but Yeimar heads it away for a throw-in.
17’ — Léo Chú sends in a cross that’s punched away by St. Clair and falls straight to Alex Roldan at the top of the box. Roldan takes a couple touches to settle but shoots high.
27’ — Albert Rusnák releases Alex Roldan down the right side, and Roldan plays a centering pass to Nico Lodeiro, but the first-time effort from the top of the box goes wide.
45’ — Lodeiro forces a turnover just inside Minnesota’s half, but rather than playing one of his runners he tries to chip the GK from distance and it’s easily caught.
53’ — Rusnák finds Lodeiro near the end line, Lodeiro controls the ball and works around a defender to play a ball for Chú who gets cleared out after he gets a shot off that’s wide.
73’ — After some sustained pressure Léo Chú has a look from a tight angle. He gets a good shot, but St. Clair punches the near post effort out of danger.
79’ — Albert Rusnák delivers the goods! Seattle gets the opener off of a throw from Alex Roldan to Fredy Montero, who flicks it out to Rusnák at the top of the box. 1-0 Sounders!
Compression issues: Minnesota United’s approach against the Sounders was to make the playable field as small as possible. They implemented a low line of confrontation, seldom putting any pressure on Seattle until they reached the midfield line with the ball, and they pulled their defensive line forward. This left the Sounders with about 30 yards of vertical space to operate in, and allowed Minnesota to crowd the passing lanes as they packed all 11 players into that limited area. Seattle were limited to largely predictable patterns as they looked for a telling pass or surgical run, although they added some energy and incisiveness when Jordan Morris entered the game.
A win’s a win: Coming off of the loss last week against the Portland Timbers, a thorough and methodical demolishing of Minnesota United I would have been truly cathartic. At the end of the season when the points all get tallied up and playoff spots are decided, though, all that matters are the three points. How you got them falls by the wayside. In that sense, this is a good win, because every win is good. It’s worth considering, though, that the Sounders came out against a team determined to frustrate them, and they came through on the other side with a goal and a win. The first hour on was an absolute slog, the Sounders kept pushing and got a goal, and then ground out the final 11 minutes plus stoppage time as they completely erased Minnesota’s attack and kept creating opportunities to increase their lead. Good teams win games even when they don’t play especially well, and with a handful of meaningful absences the Sounders did just that. They weren’t doing that last year.
Fort Lumen: The Seattle Sounders have now set a club record with five consecutive home shutouts. There have been 450 minutes of MLS soccer played at Lumen Field, and Seattle have claimed 13 of 15 points available while outscoring their opponents 10-0. The team has been vocal about their desire to turn Lumen Field into a fortress after the team went 9-5-3 at home last season, and so far they’ve done just that. Only LAFC have come out of Seattle with even a point so far, and the Sounders don’t look likely to give up many any time soon when they’re playing in front of the home crowd.
Did you see that?!?
There’s just something about midfielder goals against Minnesota United.
Albert Rusnák makes it 1-0! #SEAvMIN pic.twitter.com/flGfaB2k4S— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) April 23, 2023
He said what?!?
A little bit of wisdom from Albert Rusnák.
“We’re not always gonna play amazing and destroy teams, but I thought we played pretty well today.” Rusnák on getting the first 1-0 win of the season— Defensa y Boosticia (@timostlundfoss) April 23, 2023
One stat to tell the tale
350 — Kelyn Rowe made his 350th all-competitions professional appearance with his start against Minnesota United.
Man of the match
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