The Seattle Sounders, coming off of their loss to Sporting Kansas City on Sunday, made the trip down to face the LA Galaxy on Wednesday night in the US Open Cup. Although the game was largely even between the 18s, the Galaxy came out on top as they beat Seattle 3-1 to advance to the Round of 16.
Greg Vanney ran out a strong lineup, featuring Chicharito, Riqui Puig, and several other players who have been regular starters for the LA Galaxy this season. Despite a very early golazo for the Galaxy, the Sounders found themselves with several chances to level the game as Fredy Montero had a particularly good effort cleared off the line. Seattle had their share of play, largely limiting LA to unthreatening possession while the Sounders turned transition moments into attacking opportunities through some quality passing, good technical work and dangerous runs.
While the Sounders pushed for an equalizer, the Galaxy pulled out something of a sucker punch. Memo Rodriguez, having just subbed into the game, doubled LA’s lead with a great first-time finish on a corner that popped through the box to set up well for him to smash home in the 66th minute.
About 90 seconds later Seattle were given some hope when Paul Rothrock finished off a cross from Ethan Dobbelaere, heading the ball out of Jonathan Bond’s reach and into the back of the net. It wasn’t meant to be, though. Seattle continued to drive for an equalizer but it was once again the Galaxy who had the next goal. Memo Rodriguez popped up again in the 84th, beating Stefan Cleveland from near the edge of the box to make it 3-1.
That ends Seattle’s Open Cup run as they turn their attention to the Houston Dynamo this weekend.
3’ — Xavier Arreaga heads a corner out of the area, but right to Galaxy left back Julian Aude. Aude crushes the ball into the top corner from distance. 1-0 Galaxy
11’ — Fredy Montero has a golden opportunity following some sharp play from Ethan Dobbelaere and a nice cutback from Montero, but his shot from 10 yards out is cleared off the line.
17’ — Reed Baker-Whiting sends in a beautiful left-footed cross right to the head of Dylan Teves inside the area, but the header is hit right at Jonathan Bond.
23’ — Montero plays Dylan Teves in behind the pushed-forward Galaxy back line and makes a run at goal, but his near post effort is saved out for a corner.
25’ — Tyler Boyd looks to be in on goal, but a strong recovery run puts Josh Atencio in position to make a slide tackle in the box and Seattle come away with the ball.
37’ — Another solid look as Montero does well to keep the chance alive after a turnover created by Paul Rothrock, but the eventual shot is right at Bond.
58’ — Another good ball from RBW, this time connecting with Rothrock, but the effort is easily caught in the chest by Bond.
66’ — A Galaxy corner bounces through the box to Memo Rodriguez who first-times it into the net to double their lead. 2-0 Galaxy
68’ — The Sounders get one back through Paul Rothrock! Ethan Dobbelaere plays a dime from the right side of the box right onto Rothrock’s head and into the goal! 2-1 Galaxy
84’ — Memo Rodriguez makes it a brace, returning the Galaxy lead to two goals as he finishes from the right side of Seattle’s box. 3-1 Galaxy
Proofing the Baker(-Whiting)s: None of the Sounders covered themselves in glory against Sporting Kansas City over the weekend, but in the Open Cup Reed Baker-Whiting and Cody Baker were once again deployed at right and left back — a second consecutive start with the first for RBW. Baker-Whiting was a particular highlight for a youthful Seattle group against the Galaxy, routinely finding space in behind LAG’s left back Julian Aude and using his technical ability to combine with the likes of Montero and Dobbelaere. He even threw in some impressive crosses, something that’s not exactly been a strength of his in the past. At left back Cody Baker, a short-term signing from Tacoma Defiance, squared up against one-time USMNT winger Tyler Boyd and El Tri talisman Chicharito and largely kept the Galaxy attack quiet on his side of the field. It would be silly to claim that these two should be Brian Schmetzer’s first choices on the back line going forward, but they’re certainly making their cases for bigger roles.
Stretched too thin: With so many players still unavailable and another road game awaiting the Sounders, Schmetzer and his staff opted for another Defiance-heavy lineup while Greg Vanney and the LA Galaxy were able or obligated to play with a starting lineup much closer to their full-strength version. It’s a matter of teams on opposite ends of the table, as the Galaxy have just one MLS win this season, but it doesn’t make the game any easier or the loss any less frustrating. Despite the apparent difference in strength, Seattle seemed capable of winning this one. The kids looked pretty good, but the fixture congestion and first team absences left a hole to start with and early goal only made the hole deeper. It was too much in the end.
That’s just the way it goes, sometimes: I realize some people aren’t going to want to hear this, and I get it, but I’m writing the recap and these are my thoughts. Sometimes when a team steps onto a soccer field, they’re going to lose. It might be a blowout or a single blunder that does you in. Teams lose to weaker opposition, they lose to stronger opposition, and they lose to sides that they’re evenly matched against. In some instances it’s a weird mix of both, like tonight: you play a team that’s definitely worse, but they roll out a significantly stronger lineup because of the confluence of a number of factors that are entirely out of anyone’s control, and then just about all of the luck goes their way and you’re left to wonder if you’ve somehow wronged the soccer gods. A plague has perhaps temporarily befallen your High-Life Soccer crew, and all your suds have turned to soap. You’ve just got to move on and hope the team can find away to bring back that effervescent flow, because none of us can really do anything about it from our couches or our spots in the stadium.
Did you see that?!?
Two goals in two Open Cup games for Paul Rothrock.
Ethan Dobbelaere ➡️ Paul Rothrock— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) May 11, 2023
What a finish by the @SoundersAcademy product! pic.twitter.com/1bvP7Cd190
He said what?!?
“We learned a lot about the young players in a tough situation.” - Schmetzer
One stat to tell the tale
7 — Seven of Seattle’s Starting XI came through the Sounders Academy.
Man of the match
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