Sunday’s game between Seattle Sounders (10-5-5,35 points) and Atlanta United FC ( 9-8-3, 30 points) was always going to be a litmus test for the current and former MLS Champions. A test not based on hate but rather a curiosity. Atlanta United unseated the Seattle Sounders as the model MLS expansion Franchise by winning last years MLS title after just two years. While it Sounders FC eight years to win their first MLS Title the Rave Green have made the playoffs every year of its existence. Must respect for each other but a win over another highly thought of organization would be a nice feather in one’s cap
On Sunday the two sides spent the first half feeling each other out like two heavyweights in a title match. A little jab here, a swing there and an uppercut to ensure the message left was this is about the business. After a scoreless first half in which the Sounders had three shots on target and Atlanta two, the gloves came off in the second half and the much hyped up fast, intricate soccer game ensued.
Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer pressured Atlanta by pushing wingers Jordan Morris and Harry Shipp up the field disrupting the visitor’s ability to have any meaningful possession. With a hesitant and nervous opponent , the Sounders pounced with Shipp scooping an errant Atlanta United clearance, calmly passing back to Cristian Roldan who lofted a perfect pass to an onrushing Raul Ruidiaz who chested the ball forward split two defenders and surgically placing the ball in the back of the Atlanta net for the 1-0 lead in the 58th minute.
While the Ruidiaz goal also sent the Rave Green into a frenzy, the celebrations and high fives where short-lived as Atlanta’s Josef Martínez equalized seven minutes later, rising above the crowd on a corner kick from Pity Martínez with a powerful header to the near post. It marked the 13th goal of the season for the 2018 MLS MVP, as the Venezuelan international has now scored both Atlanta goals against Seattle since entering MLS in 2017.
With the game tied and time running out the Sounders intensified their press this time involving every player on the pitch with a green jersey and the result was a 71st minute game-winning header by Shipp who was fed an exquisite pass by Jordan Morris and renewed the Rave Green’s celebrations. This time the high fives were accompanied by fist pumps, high tens, chants and bodily movements that were not for the faint of heart.
- With today’s result, Sounders FC moves into second place in the Western Conference with 35 points (10-5-5), 11 points behind Supporters’ Shield-leading LAFC. The club is now one point ahead of third-place LA Galaxy and two points ahead of fourth-place Minnesota United.
- Seattle earned its first win all-time against Atlanta, improving to 1-0-2 against United since the club entered the league in 2017.
- Sounders FC stretched its home unbeaten streak to 13 games (11-0-2) dating back to September 29 of last season. The current streak is tied for the second-longest in club history and just one shy of the franchise record of 14 (10-0-4) set in 2013.
- Raúl Ruidíaz now has 18 goals in 25 appearances across all competitions since coming to Seattle last summer. He leads the club in goals this season with seven.
- Shipp’s third goal of the season was his first since he scored in consecutive matches on April 21 at LAFC and April 24 vs. San Jose.
- Lodeiro earned his team-leading ninth assist of the season. He ranks fourth in MLS in assists, three behind leader Carlos Vela of LAFC.
- Morris and Roldan each recorded their second assist of the season, and are tied for fourth on the club in that category.
- Ruidíaz (Peru / Copa America), Morris (United States / CONCACAF Gold Cup) and Roldan (United States / CONCACAF Gold Cup) all returned to Brian Schmetzer’s starting lineup today following their respective runs in international play. Ruidíaz and Roldan last started for the Rave Green on June 1 at FC Dallas, while Morris had not started for the club since May 15 vs. Orlando.