The Sounders squared off with LAFC Sunday night in the first soccer game at CenturyLink Field in just under a month. The last time the Western Conference powerhouses met was in Round 16 of the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando. The LAFC took the Sounders behind the woodshed and gave them a thorough spanking. Seattle’s inability to break LAFC’s high press was their demise. Despite playing without starters Carlos Vela and Mark Atuesta due to injury the newly created Western Conference rivalry was your basic grudge match.
COUNTERING HIGH PRESS
There has been much and for good reason about LAFC’s high press. The visitors like to pressure opponents into making costly errors and pouncing on the ball and converting it into a goal. That was the secret to LAFC’s lopsided win over the Sounders in their last game. On Sunday the Sounders were more patient with the ball and used several tactics to avoid the press. One tactic was to play long passes from the back and the other was to be patient when in possession.
GOALS CHANGE GAMES
What helped the Sounders cause was an 11th-minute goal by Peruvian marksman Raul Ruidiaz. The early goal gave the Sounders confidence and settled and nerves about playing from the back. Not that they lacked confidence more in that the Sounders believed if they stuck to the gameplay a victory would ensue.
MORRIS IS A PRIME TIME PLAYER
The traditional way to beat the press in any sport is to use speed and quickness if you have it. The Sounders Jordan Morris has always been one of the fasted players in MLS. His growth in knowing when to use that speed and quickness has made him one of the most dangerous players in MLS. Morris’s ability to get down the field made life difficult for LA defenders all night. Morris’s taunting of LAFC defenders in the first half paid dividends four minutes into the second half.
Morris scored a pair of goals just moments apart early in the second half, first getting behind the defense in the 48th minute on a through-ball from Nicolás Lodeiro and rounding Vermeer before finishing into the back of the net. He completed his brace a minute later, getting on the end of a cross from the right-wing by João Paulo and converting a volley at the far post. Morris’ five goals this season are tied for first on the squad with Ruidíaz.
The Rave Green have now won both matches since the league continued MLS regular season action following the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando. Brian Schmetzer’s club is currently amidst a three-match winning streak in regular season play, dating back to the final Group Stage match in Orlando.
With Sunday’s result, Sounders FC moves to 2-4-1 all-time against LAFC in all competitions. The win is the first for the Rave Green since last season’s 3-1 road victory at Banc of California Stadium in the Western Conference Championship.
In the club’s past two matches against Western Conference rivals Portland and LAFC, Seattle has outscored its opponents by a combined margin of 6-1.
With his half-volley goal from distance in the 11th minute of play, Raúl Ruidíaz continued his hot hand since play began following the MLS is Back Tournament. The Peruvian bagged a brace last weekend in Portland, giving him three goals in two games and five overall on the season. He know has 26 regular season goals since signing with Seattle in the summer transfer window of 2018.
Seattle native Jordan Morris is now tied for the team lead in scoring with Ruidíaz (five goals each). Morris has 30 career MLS regular season goals since signing as Homegrown Player in 2016.
Brazilian midfielder Joâo Paulo earned his second assist of the season on Morris’ third goal after signing prior to the 2020 season. Captain Nicolás Lodeiro earned his fourth assist of the season on Morris second goal, his 52nd helper of his Sounders FC career.