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Nifty for 50: Sounders dominate Minnesota United

Paul Rothrock and Jordan Morris score goals in Sounders’ comprehensive win.

Last Updated
4 min read
Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

SEATTLE – With five decades worth of Seattle Sounders alumni in attendance, it was perhaps fitting that two locals provided the main highlights for a 2-0 win over Minnesota United on Saturday.

Behind goals from Seattle natives Jordan Morris and Paul Rothrock, the Sounders picked up easily their most impressive win of the season and dominating the No. 3 team in the Western Conference. In the process, the Sounders moved back into a playoff spot, edging out the Portland Timbers on a tiebreaker.

The Sounders opened the scoring in the 29th minute when Morris rose above the defense to head in an Albert Rusnák free kick. Morris seemed to set up an insurance goal to start the second half but Rothrock’s shot at an open net went wide. About 10 minutes later, Rothrock got a similar – but even better – look when Léo Chú slid a ball through the penalty area to him, and this time converted.

Missing starting attackers Teemu Puki and Tani Oluwaseyi, Minnesota really didn’t offer much going forward. United was limited to just five shots and none after the 68th minute.

This was the Sounders’ first home win of the season over a Western Conference opponent and the first time they’ve beaten anyone that’s currently ranked in the top half of the Supporters’ Shield standings. They also improved to 9-0-0 all-time at home against Minnesota.

Key moments

1: Alex Roldan clashes heads with Devin Padelford and both have to come out with possible concussions. Paul Rothrock replaces Roldan with Cristian Roldan sliding to right back.

18: Bongokuhle Hlongwane glides past Jackson Ragen but can’t get a clean look on goal as the Sounders clear the danger.

21: Léo Chú plays in a dangerous ball to Jordan Morris in front of goal, but Minnesota goalkeeper Clint Irwin intervenes just in time.

29: GOAL! Jordan Morris heads in a well-placed free kick from Albert Rusnák and the Sounders stage a full-team celebration.

44: João Paulo finds Cristian Roldan streaking in. Roldan plays a pass through the box but Albert Rusnák can’t quite get there to tap it into an open net.

45+1: Cristian Roldan plays in Morris but the ball checks up a little funny, allowing the defense to recover. Morris is still able to get a shot off but it’s right at Irwin.

46: CHANCE! Jordan Morris plays a cross through the box that finds Paul Rothrock with an open net. But Rothrock’s sliding shot goes just wide.

54: Hlongwane gets a clean look at a header off a corner kick but shoots high.

55: Caden Clark races in on the left wing and rips a shot from about 20 yards out but shoots wide.

57: GOAL! Given another chance to convert from close range, Rothrock comes through. This time the chance is created by Léo Chú who makes a good move to get into the box and then slides it across the goal to Rothrock at the back post.

66: Morris makes a cleave pass to put Albert Rusnák in on goal but Irwin comes up with a nice save.

82: João Paulo plays in Morris with a perfect chipped pass. Morris is able to round the goalkeeper, but his touch is a little heavy and the defense is able to clear.

90: Red Card! Moses Nyman rakes Albert Rusnák’s Achilles’ tendon and after review is shown a red card.

Quick thoughts

Schmetzer dials it in: Coming off a week where several of Brian Schmetzer’s personnel decisions came under scrutiny, it should be said that his big calls this week paid off handsomely. It started with the decision to start Jordan Morris at the No. 9 and insert Léo Chú into the lineup. But the even bigger call was bringing in Paul Rothrock at right wing after Alex Roldan went off with a concussion in the 1st minute. Both Rothrock and Morris scored goals, of course, but more than that they routinely stretched the Minnesota backline and opened up gobs of space in the midfield.

Cristian Roldan shines at right back: No one wanted the opportunity to come the way it did – probably least of all Cristian – but Roldan was absolutely spectacular in place of his injured brother at right back. While not allowing anything on his side defensively, Roldan was free to get forward and repeatedly tested the United defense with balls behind. He finished with 56 of 64 passing, 7 of 9 duels and eight passes into the final third. With Alex Roldan surely out for at least a game or two, it would be great to see Cristian get a couple more starts to see what he can do.

Was this a statement win?: With the caveat that Minnesota was not at full strength, the Sounders still deserve credit for starting strong and more importantly finishing strong against an opponent that came into this match with the most road wins in the Western Conference (4) and the second most road points (13). At no point after the first 20 minutes or so did United look like the team pushing for the West’s top spot and the Sounders deserve most of the credit for that.

Notable quote

Player spotlight

There were no shortage of standout performances in this game, but none of them were possible without the stellar play of João Paulo. The Brazilian looked more like himself than in any other game this year, completing an eye-popping 97 of 109 passes, making seven interceptions and winning 6 of 11 duels. With slightly better finishing he’d have at least one assist as well.