After two promising preseason performances, the Seattle Sounders came crashing back to earth on Thursday when they dropped a pair of full 90-minute matches to Denmark’s Odense BK. Notably, the Sounders were missing their top five defenders and were playing on just four days’ rest while pushing themselves to 90 minutes for the first time this preseason.
OB won the first match 3-0, with the first goal coming a first-half penalty and then adding two more in the second half. The starting lineup looked like this (l-r): Stefan Frei; Jon Bell, Xavier Arreaga, Nathan, Cody Baker; Josh Atencio, João Paulo; Léo Chú, Albert Rusnák, Cristian Roldan; Jordan Morris. Already short-handed, the Sounders lost Josh Atencio (hamstring tightness) around the 30th minute and João Paulo (hip) around the 75th. Both were deemed mostly precautionary, with Snyder Brunell coming in for Atencio and Kalani Kossa-Rienzi replacing João Paulo.
OB also won the second game, 2-1, but it played out much differently. OB scored twice inside 12 minutes but it was pretty much even for the rest of the way until Raúl Ruidíaz scored in the 85th minute. This game featured a starting lineup of Jacob Castro; Paul Rothrock, Stuart Hawkins, Antino Lopez, Kossa-Rienzi; Danny Leyva, Obed Vargas; Georgi Minoungou, Brunell (Sandness 45), Dylan Teves; Ruidiaz.
Ruidíaz's goal was the definite highlight of the match, with Leyva making a nice move to put the striker into space. The Peruvian then conjured the kind of goal we've come to expect from him, looping a shot from about 25 yards out to beat the goalkeeper.
Raúl Ruidíaz scores in Sounders’ 2-1 loss to Odense BK. Nice play by Danny Leyva to put him into space. Here’s the goal: pic.twitter.com/eXENXNR7Is— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) February 8, 2024
The Sounders will spend a couple more days in Spain before returning to Seattle. They'll play their final preseason game on Feb. 17 against Sacramento Republic and will open the MLS season on Feb. 24 at LAFC.
- The scorelines in these games was perhaps a little deceiving. Based on the quality chances each team had, they were pretty even. There were two particularly big turning points in the first game, both on Morris 1v1 chances. On the first, the score was still 1-0 when Rusnák played in Morris, who made a great first touch but the goalkeeper made a nice save. The second came right after OB scored to make 2-0, with Roldan playing in Morris for an even more pure of a 1v1. This time, Morris elected to shoot from the top of the penalty area only to put it wide (although the replay made it look like he was probably offside). The good news is that Morris is getting into these spots consistently. Let’s hope he starts finishing them once the season starts.
- The scoreline in the second game wasn’t so much deceiving, but it does undersell how well a team made up mostly of reserves and unsigned players looked. Even in the first 12 minutes when OB jumped out to the lead, the Sounders were dictating play. OB let them have the ball a bit more after taking the early lead, but the Sounders continued to make plenty of positive plays. I was particularly impressed by 17-year-old centerback Stuart Hawkins, who was good in distribution and did well to break up a couple counter-attack opportunities.
- Despite being paired with a team of mostly reserves, Ruidíaz never looked mentally out of the game. He was active and looking for chances throughout and his goal showed that he might still have some magic in that right boot.