The Seattle Sounders fell 2-0 on the road against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday night. They were thoroughly outplayed, and for significant stretches looked disinterested in changing that.
The Sounders were far from their best in the first half. Simple passes went to the opposition, and more difficult ones weren’t any more likely to find teammates. Players got caught on the ball, taking too long to make decisions and letting Vancouver close them down and disrupt. That’s more or less what happened at the end of the half, when Alex Roldan made a good play to get himself in front of Pedro Vite as the ball took a big bounce in Seattle’s box. Unfortunately after controlling the ball with his chest, rather than clearing the danger Roldan took a beat and gave Vite the opportunity to reach in and poke the ball into the back of the net from inside the six-yard box.
Seattle had some good moments to start the second half, seemingly spurred on by a pair of substitutions as Cody Baker and Dylan Teves replaced Léo Chú and Nouhou. The Whitecaps were the ones to find a way through, though, capitalizing on a Sounders giveaway. Alex Roldan attempted to chest control the ball on the right wing, but lost out as Luis Martins came away with the ball instead. Martins cut the ball back for Ryan Gauld whose shot hit the post before going in off of Frei.
More substitutions helped with some of the energy issues, but the sharpness was still lacking. They managed to create a good look deep in stoppage as Cody Baker combined with Fredy Montero and Héber to weave through the Whitecaps box, but Héber’s shot ultimately missed by about a yard. That’s two straight losses in the league, with a chance to stop the slide next Saturday at Lumen Field as the Sounders host Red Bull New York.
3’ — Seattle earn the first corner of the game thanks to an active start from Léo Chú. Albert Rusnák’s corner is sent in well and finds Yeimar, but the far post header goes just wide.
15’ — A Vancouver free kick goes all the way through the box to Javain Brown at the far post, but his attempt goes out for a Stefan Frei goal kick.
19’ — The Sounders try a short corner with Nico Lodeiro sending in a cross that finds Fredy Montero whose flicked header goes to Xavier Arreaga, but he can’t get his shot on frame.
27’ — The Whitecaps play pretty easily through Seattle’s defense to put Ryan Gauld on the ball inside the box, but his shot under pressure from Nouhou goes out for a goal kick.
44’ — Alex Roldan attempts to hold off Pedro Vite in front of Seattle’s goal as he chests the ball, but Vite gets a touch in and pokes the ball under Stefan Frei’s legs. 1-0 Vancouver
54’ — Jordan Morris with a dangerous look as Nico Lodeiro plays him in, but the angle closes at the post and Yohei Takaoka catches it.
58’ — Ryan Gauld gets a look from inside the area and his shot hits off of the post then goes in the goal off of Frei to double Vancouver’s lead. 2-0 Vancouver
65’ — Albert Rusnák nearly puts Seattle on the board with a header from a corner, but Takaoka palms the ball over the bar for another corner.
90’ +4 — Cody Baker, Fredy Montero and Héber work through the box to create a good look late on, but Héber’s shot goes wide left.
Heavy legs: The last 14 days have been busy for the Sounders. They’ve played five games in that two-week span, albeit with some pretty serious rotation for the US Open Cup game against the LA Galaxy. That’s coincided with some significant injury and availability issues, which has resulted in pretty serious mileage in a short time for the team. I don’t bring that up to give the Sounders excuses for some pretty poor performances in that time, but to provide a little bit of context and maybe cause for some hope in the near future. There’s a week before the next game, although that game against Red Bull New York starts another stretch with three games in eight days, followed by an international break. It’s a chance to get some rest, hopefully get some guys back, and get their heads right. They need to do it now, before the good work to start the season has been undone.
Plan A has a stink on it: The Sounders started the season with a system play predicated on holding possession and counter-pressing opponents when they turned the ball over. Nouhou was staying home on the left while Alex Roldan effectively pushed into a right-wing role alongside Cristian Roldan to get the most out of everyone with fantastic results. When that wasn’t working, or the opponent was leaving room behind the team could instead opt to focus on transition play and hurt teams with speed and ruthless counter-attacking play. With Cristian Roldan’s absence due to concussion issues, the possession and counter-pressing has seemed less useful, and the ability to hit on transition has dropped and continues to drop as players get worn down. Plan A has a stink on it, and so does Plan B, so Brian Schmetzer and his staff either need to find a way to make those plans work or find a new one that works for the players available.
I want to have fun: Look, I’m like everyone reading this, or at least I think so. I love the Sounders. I like to see them win, I like to have a good time with my friends. I’m not terribly picky about the style that the team plays so long as they’re getting results, but I’d definitely prefer that they look good while doing it. Right now they’re not getting results, and they look bad. I understand the circumstances, you presumably read through a lot of them with the above talking points, but the team is hard to watch right now. Honestly, I’d settle for a fun loss at this point. I’d like better than that, but right now I really just love to enjoy a game.
He said what?!?
Strong words from Brad Evans following the first half.
I will say. If you don't want to play then just tell the coach.— brad evans (@brad_evans3) May 21, 2023
One stat to tell the tale
0 — Through two Cascadia Cup matches — both road games — the Sounders have 0 points and a -5 GD.