While it was not scripted as such the Seattle Sounders forwards took a night off from scoring to make room for defenders Xavier Arreaga and Brad Smith who each scored to keep the Sounders (5-0-1 16pts) unbeaten and in pole position for the Supporters Shield after the 2-0 win over LAFC ( 1-2-2 5pts)
WHO IS MINDING THE POSTS
The answer to Sounder Nations’ biggest question going into the game was who would start in goal. The answer was Stefan Cleveland. Stefan Frei’s backup for the last two seasons was between the pipes when the Sounders faced off against LAFC.
As can be expected the Sounders started the game tentatively. Staying tight and compact on defense challenging LAFC to use the flanks. Fortunately for the Sounders LAFC did not take accept the invite and spent the half trying to attack the Sounders fortified defense. The result was a lifeless first half that saw the Sounders with zero shots on goal the LAFC managing just one shot.
PUSHING FORWARD IN SECOND HALF
In the second half, the Sounders took the initiative on the offensive half by pushing wingbacks Brad Smith and Alex Roldan up the field on the flanks. The other halftime adjustment the Sounders made was to make more intricate passes in the middle of the field using passing triangles that resulted in more sustained ball possession. The longer possession spells enable Smith and Roldan to get upfield
“It seems like we are not playing up to our potential in the first halves of games this season, and then we turn it around in the second half of games. In Minnesota the first game, this last game you know we didn’t play very well. You have to give credit to your opponents, I mean Bob [Bradley] had a full week’s rest, he had a full week of preparation. I know you saw this, but he changed his tactics,
which you know, is kind of surprising. Normally he’s 4-3-3, so he matched us. And how did that play out? It worked out for him in many parts of the first half. Then we made some adjustments in the second half and we were able to find a few more extended possession spells, sequences. Brad [Smith] got on track. Not just because of his goal but we need Brad to stretch the field because Jordan [Morris] is not here. And I thought he was influential there. I thought Alex Roldan has a monster game. I thought he was tremendous on that goal sequence, the second goal. It was unbelievable… but the whole sequence for the goal was very, very good, for Brad’s goal, was very good.”
Arreaga opened the scoring in the 57th minute when he headed a Joao Paulo corner kick into the back of the LAFC next. The Sounders continued their forward thrust and the result was an exquisite insurance goal by Smith in the 73rd minute.
The Sounders ability to close out games saw them hold on to the two goal cushion and never looked back. The reason for the Sounders ability to close out game is their fitness. The Sounders are simply the fittest team in the league and that advantage is allowing them to score late and continue to push for more goals when their opponent is grasping for air.
NEXT UP FOR SOUNDERS
Seattle is unbeaten to start the 2021 campaign, matching its best start through six games in club history (2019).