The Seattle Sounders FC opened their 2018 MLS season with a frustrating and disappointing loss to expansion side Los Angeles Football Club. While there are several ways to look at the loss, the end is that the Sounders are 0-1 in the MLS Standings.
Rave Green rested some starters in Sunday’s opener due to the teams CONCACAF Quarterfinal match against Chivas Guadalajara on Wednesday night. The Sounders dispatched Salvadorian side Santa Tecla to advance to the Wednesday night. Tournaments are great but they can tax a clubs depth.
Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer started a backline of Jordy Delam, Roman Torres, Tony Alfaro and Nouhou. It was the first time the four players had ever played together as a back four. LA pushed forwards Latif Blessing and Marco Urena up against Torres and Delam creating space for midfielders Carol Vela, Mark-Anthony Kaye and forward Diego Rossi who scored the goals only goal.
With the Seattle backline occupied by the LA forward line, head coach Brian Schmetzer had to bring his midfielders back on defense to help to sacrifice the Seattle attack. Sensing a need for some firepower Schmetzer brought in Magnus Wolff Eikrem for Roman Torres and changed his formation to a 4-4-2 and the move paid an instant dividend.
The Sounders controlled the majority of the ball and outshot the LAFC 5-0. Schmetzer also brought on Handwalla Bwana for Harry Shipp and Lamar Neagle for Jordy Delam. In the end, all the Sounders had to show for their shot domination was a 1-0 loss at home to start the season.
“I think a little bit of it was at halftime I think the guys came in and were a little frustrated with their own performance. We obviously made the change to bring Magnus [Wolf Eikrem] on and I think that combination of having Nico [Lodeiro] play next to Cristian [Roldan] is effective and allows us to get the ball forward, “Schmetzer said after the game.
“And I think again it was just the normal course of a game. They came out hard and used a bunch of energy. They were up 1-0. Sometimes teams when they are up 1-0 they let their foot off the gas a little bit. The home team, the team that’s losing, picks up the tempo, picks up the energy. I think it was a combination of just many things. Mostly it’s just that the players in that locker room don’t quit and they don’t like losing.”
- Sunday’s loss is just the second Sounders FC defeat in 30 home matches (regular season and Audi MLS Cup Playoffs) since Brian Schmetzer took over as Head Coach in July of 2016. In that time, the Rave Green have logged a 21-2-7 record on the Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field.
- Seattle is now 3-2-3 all-time in its first match against expansion sides, with LAFC joining the Montreal Impact as the only expansion teams that have won their first match against Sounders FC. The loss brings Sounders FC to 5-5-0 all-time in MLS openers.
- Midfielder Handwalla Bwana made his pro debut as a second-half substitute, logging 26 minutes of action after coming on for Harry Shipp. The Homegrown Player and University of Washington product nearly scored moments after coming on, when his shot from distance took a deflection and hit the crossbar.
- Former Sounders FC goalkeeper Tyler Miller made his LAFC debut between the posts, making seven saves and recording his first career MLS shutout. Miller spent the past three years with Sounders FC and S2 before LAFC made him the club’s first selection in last December’s Expansion Draft.
- With his two yellow cards today, Seattle defender Tony Alfaro is now suspended for the club’s next league match March 18 at FC Dallas.
- With Sounders FC set to face Chivas Guadalajara in the first leg of the Quarterfinal Round of the 2018 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League on Wednesday, Brian Schmetzer’s lineup selection did not include Clint Dempsey or Chad Marshall, while Román Torres logged just 45 minutes of action
- The Chivas series is Seattle’s fifth test against Mexican opposition, having previously played Monterrey in 2010 and 2011, Santos Laguna in 2012 and 2013, in addition to Club América in 2016. While Sounders FC has played Chivas in a friendly match in 2010, the two sides have not met previously in competitive play.
- Wednesday’s match puts Seattle into the Quarterfinal Round of North America’s premier club soccer competition for the fourth time in club history, having only advanced to the Semifinal Round of Champions League play once before in the 2012-2013 campaign.
Los Angeles FC – Tyler Miller; Steven Beitashour, Dejan Jakovic, Laurent Ciman – captain, Joao Moutinho; Mark-Anthony Kaye, Benny Feilhaber, Latif Blessing, Carlos Vela, Diego Rossi (Jordan Harvey 90′); Marco Ureña (Tristan Blackmon 80′)
Substitutes not used: Charlie Lyon, James Murphy, Rodrigo Pacheco, Omar Gaber