The Seattle Sounders FC used a four-goal second-half explosion to secure a birth in next Wednesday Quarterfinal Round of the 2018 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League.
Magnus Woll Eikrem playmaking ability
Despite coming on as a second-half substitute, Eikrem energized the Sounders attack with his creative runs in the middle of the field as well as his intricate passing. While it was his first game with the Sounders, Eikrem showed that he understands the soccer concepts of creating space with and without the ball.
“I said earlier in the preseason that we liked [Eikrem] because he was goal dangerous,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said after the game. ”You need to have goal-dangerous players in those positions to take some of the load off the guys in the middle of the field. He’s a very good passer, his vision’s good. I thought overall he’s just a very, very talented soccer player. Just as soon as he gets accustomed to the league and players, I think he will become even better.”
Wil Bruin Factor
Bruin scored the Sounders first goal one minute into the second half to continue his goal-scoring prowess from last year. Bruin scored eleven goals last year one behind team leader Clint Dempsey. While Bruin is known for his power insider the penalty box on Thursday night he showed his ability to create space inside the box for teammates and according to head coach Brian Schmetzer Bruin was a man on a mission.
“Apparently, Will was very upset, like most of were, down in Santa Tecla and he said, ‘I can’t wait to get these bleeps back here home to Seattle because I want to put three or four on them.’ His prediction came true, and part of that is because Will is a competitive guy. I might stop you at a playmaker, he’s not a playmaker.
He certainly can find a backheel or flick every now and again. But Will makes his living scoring the goal that he did. He knew where the ball was going, maybe even before Nico did, and that started us off. His competitive spirit is something that no defenders – defenders like playing against forwards that are kind of soft and do their thing. But when you’re up against Will, you know you’re in for a battle every night.”
Sounders still need work on breaking teams down
The good news is that the Sounders scored four goals in the second half. The bad news is the Sounders scored no goals in the first half. Only time will determine whether this will be an issue for the Sounders.
No doubt Santa Tecla slowed the game down with silly dives, forgetting where to put the ball in play and other time wasting techniques, the concern here is the Sounders were unable to muster unlock the Tecla defense.
Santa Tecla will not be the last team that will try to clog the middle of the field and slows the Sounders attack. Will the Sounders be able to unlock opposing defenses when needed? Wil Bruin believes the Sounders have the players to do just that.
“I think the first half was slow and compacted and they kind of put numbers behind the ball and every chance they got they rolled around on the ground to try to kill the game. That’s CONCACAF for you. But when [Magnus] came on, he is slow calm and composed on the ball. He picks out a great pass. When he is on the ball we know he is going to make a killer pass going forward. That was something that was good to get some minutes with him.”
- With the win, Sounders FC advances to the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinals for the fourth time, and now faces storied Mexican club Chivas Guadalajara for a chance at the club’s second appearance in the Semifinal Round. The first leg is being held in Seattle on Wednesday, March 7, with the return leg at Estadio Akron on Wednesday, March 14.
- Thursday marked the Sounders FC debut for midfielder Magnus Wolff Eikrem, who came on as a halftime substitute. The Norwegian international initiated the attack on Will Bruin’s goal in the 46th minute, before opening his Sounders FC account in the 83rd minute to seal the match.
- Nicolás Lodeiro continued his strong form to start the 2018 campaign, tallying a goal and two assists. The Uruguayan international finishes the Round of 16 matchup with Santa Tecla with two goals and two assists, after scoring from 40 yards out in the first leg.
- Clint Dempsey made his 2018 debut on Thursday evening and recorded two assists, giving him two goals and two assists in three career SCCL appearances for Sounders FC.
- Stefan Frei recorded one save in his first shutout of the 2018 campaign, his second career clean sheet in the SCCL for Sounders FC.