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Sounders equal worst-ever start to a season

The Sounders go winless in California for the season as they lose 1-0 on the road against the Galaxy.

Last Updated
5 min read
Jonathan Hui-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Sounders went to California for the second weekend in a row, this time looking for their first win of the season against the LA Galaxy. That win didn’t come, as the Sounders lost 1-0 to the Galaxy on a 4th minute goal from Gabriel Pec.

The first half couldn’t have gotten off to much worse of a start than it actually did. In the 2nd minute Joseph Paintsil found himself wide open in front of the Sounders goal – Jackson Ragen had attempted to jump the pass to him but couldn’t get a touch as the ball looped over his head – and with only Stefan Frei to beat the goalkeeper leaped out to block the shot but hardly troubled him, setting up a clear look only for Paintsil to clang his shot off the post.

Two minutes later, Paintsil was working largely unbothered on the Sounders left side before dropping the ball on Pec’s foot inside the box and the Brazilian didn’t miss his opportunity as he smashed a shot that Frei seemed to misread as he got his hands to it but let the ball slip between his body and the near post to give the Galaxy a 1-0 lead.

Seattle had chances, as did the Galaxy, as the half wore on and the two sides settled into a much more even balance of play. Neither side were able to find another goal over the remainder of the opening 45 minutes, as both teams clearly struggled with the wet and wild conditions.

Try as they might, the Sounders couldn’t find their breakthrough. Neither could the Galaxy, but with a 1-0 scoreline only one team actually needed a goal. While the Sounders created chances and looked capable of at least giving the opposing defense some trouble, Seattle still look almost completely devoid of real, repeatable ideas in the attacking end of the field and still have yet to pick up a win on the season. The 0-3-2 start ties 2013 for their worst-ever start to a MLS season, and they’ll need a win over CF Montreal next week to stay even.

Key moments

2 - Joseph Paintsil gets a wide-open look as Jackson Ragen tries to jump a pass leaving him unmarked and Frei dives helplessly, but the shot hits the post.

4 - Goal. Gabriel Pec receives a layoff from Paintsil in the box and smashes a shot that Frei gets his hands to but can’t keep out of the net. 1-0 Galaxy

7 - The Sounders nearly get a goal back as Jordan Morris and Josh Atencio play a lovely give-and-go to set up a first-time shot from Raúl Ruidíaz that’s just wide.

22 - Cody Baker picks up a poor clearance from John McCarthy and finds Albert Rusnák who plays in Ruidíaz, but the shot goes out for a goal kick.

27 - Josh Atencio drives at the Galaxy goal after a good pickup from Alex Roldan, but his shot is blocked out for a corner.

52 - Yeimar gets his head to a ball in from Mark Delgado to diffuse some danger in front of goal, then Frei bobbles but eventually gets hold of the ball.

56 - The Sounders work the ball around outside the area following a free kick, and Rusnák takes the opportunity to let loose from distance but his shot is caught.

65 - Danny Musovski nearly makes it two headed goals in two games, but McCarthy gets an arm to the ball to put it off the crossbar and out for a corner.

82 - Riqui Puig has a great look at the Sounders goal, but Nouhou is able to block the shot and the Sounders are able to get out on the counter.

90 - The best look of the night for the Sounders comes on a sweet exchange between Jordan Morris and Dylan Teves, but Morris’s first-time shot misses wide.

Quick Thoughts

What good is change? There are certainly benefits of and uses for change. You can probably still call dibs on the next game on a pool table at a bar with an appropriate stack of quarters; There are places where you can use change to pay for parking or to do your laundry. Change can stimulate new mental pathways, help you see things from a different perspective and come up with new ideas to solve problems. Against the Galaxy, the Sounders tried to change things up a bit: Cristian Roldan slid inside to play in the center of midfield for the first time since 2022, and Alex Roldan moved up a line to fill his brother’s usual spot and make room for Cody Baker at right back. Baker showed a good bit of why some folks like myself are so excited about him on both sides of the ball, but I’d argue the benefit of those changes pretty much end there. After last week Brian Schmetzer said that players’ spots weren’t in danger yet, but with another lackluster performance in the books it’s probably time to skip change for the sake of it and start seeing some underperforming starters hit the bench.

Giving up easy goals: The Sounders were hard to score against last year – historically so. They didn’t give up easy chances, teams generally had to work hard to create good looks or score on something special. That does not seem to be the case in 2024, for one reason or another. Sure, the absence of João Paulo means a little less cover in front of Stefan Frei and the back line, but week after week we’ve seen guys who seem to have their names in ink on the lineup sheet standing around like they’re waiting to have their number called at the DMV instead of defending guys like Paintsil and Pec. On the Galaxy’s goal – two whole minutes after Paintsil had very nearly opened the scoring himself – Seattle’s defense may as well have been actual traffic cones as Paintsil and Co. worked through them before Pec smashed his shot and put the hosts ahead. That was the only goal, but not the only chance. If the offense is struggling, it’s even more important to have the defense locked in – that’s how this team got to the playoffs last season despite their midseason doldrums.

A crisis of confidence: I’m not going to try to read into body language, or even get particularly tactical or sophisticated in a discussion of how the Sounders are or are not creating chances in order to try to explain the root of their attacking troubles. I’m just going to say that right now when Seattle get into the attacking third, or players find themselves with a chance to shoot, I don’t think they’re going to score. With some of the looks that went unfinished tonight in particular, it’s fair to wonder if the Sounders feel the same. Guys like Morris and Rusnák are missing shots that under almost any other circumstances you’d feel comfortable and confident in them putting away. The confidence has just dried up. I don’t know, maybe they could all give each other compliments about things they genuinely like or respect about them? At this point it couldn’t hurt.

Notable quote

Man of the match

Josh Atencio - Atencio was everywhere for a Sounders side that was trying to claw their way back into the game, racking up 91 touches in 85 minutes.