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Film session underscores Sounders’ need to improve

Sounders are well aware that they’re not generating enough quality scoring chances.

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3 min read

RENTON – Perhaps no play better epitomized the Seattle Sounders’ offensive struggles on Saturday against the Colorado Rapids than a 36th minute pass by Cristian Roldan. Jackson Ragen wins a header right to the feet of Roldan, who immediately recognizes that Jordan Morris is streaking behind the Rapids defense.

Roldan quickly turns and plays the pass, potentially putting Morris in on goal with just one defender to deal with. But instead of allowing Morris to run into the open field, the ball has so much backspin that it actually checks back. That allows the defense to easily close the gap and win back possession before the danger is even remotely realized.

It wasn’t that the Sounders lacked the ideas to break down the Rapids, it was the finer points of execution that let them down.

“It just comes down to being cleaner,” Sounders right back Alex Roldan said following Tuesday’s training session. “The smallest things can make the biggest difference. That’s where we fell short. Our touches weren’t clean, some of our passes were slow, and moving forward those are things we need to focus on a little more. It’s not always about the tactics, the effort, it can come down to the smallest things like that.”

Although the Sounders managed to score their second goal of the season and nearly made that stand up for their first win, it was not lost on head coach Brian Schmetzer that his team failed to generate almost any offense from open play. The Sounders’ non-penalty xG was just .29, one of their lowest-ever totals in a home game.

Unprompted, Schmetzer even noted that the Sounders are currently dead last in xG per shot (.06). The Sounders were fifth best (.104) in that category last year.

“The critical thing we saw in film is we got into the prime-assist zone and the pass wasn’t there,” Schmetzer said. “Our expected goals wasn’t even close to being good enough, especially at home.

“When we talk about upgrading a chance, upgrading a shot, those things have to happen. Alex is a big part of that. He got himself into some good positions but the final pass wasn’t there. Whether that’s a decision or that’s the technical side, we can argue that, but it has to get better.”

Staying with Sounders

The Sounders got some unexpected relief during this international window, having no players called away. Alex Roldan has historically been a player called away, but it sounds like that won’t be as much of an issue going forward. After winning 25 caps in which he scored three international goals, Roldan said he’s no longer involved with El Salvador.

“Moving forward for me it was important to allow someone else to have the opportunity because I wasn’t fully committed and was just disappointed with how things are operated over there,” Roldan said. “It’s a tough decision, but it’s the right one for me.”

Among Roldan’s highlights were scoring the game-winner in his international debut and a late equalizer against Jamaica in World Cup qualifying.

“It was honestly one of the best experiences I’ve had,” he said. “Competing against some really talented players is something every kid dreams about. I’m not taking it for granted.”

Injury updates

Stefan Frei returned to full training and assuming there are no setbacks, is likely in line to start against the San Jose Earthquakes despite Andrew Thomas’ solid play over the first three games.

“It’s still his job to hand over, if that’s the right word,” Schmetzer said. “Andrew has shown his abilities and is a rising star.”

Albert Rusnák and Yeimar Gomez Andrade, who both made their 2024 debuts off the bench against the Rapids, are expected to be available but may not be ready to start. João Paulo (hip), Pedro de la Vega (hamstring), Reed Baker-Whiting (hamstring) and Braudilio Rodrigues remain out.