An opening of the skies produced a deluge of rain that affected the footing of the Sounders and Minnesota to begin their Western Conference showdown. Both sides were cautious due to the treacherous footing. The visitors hunkered down in the middle and dared the home side to break them down. The Joao Paulo to Nicolas Lodiero combination in the middle of the pitch dared the Minnesota defenders to come out of the shell. The Sounders managed to get a foothold in the game by getting the ball wide to Leo Chu.
The frustration for the Sounders attack was a lack of multiple runners into the box. When Chu was making his run down the left side his passing options were limited. Eber was an advantage in ball possession but playing the deep outlet option in the middle of the field left a void in the striker position.
UP TEMPO SECOND HALF
Tactical changes at halftime by Brain Schmetzer turned in the Sounder’s favor. The first tactic was an up-tempo style in possession. The best way to unlock the hunkered-down Minnesota defense was to move the ball from sideline to sideline and make them chase the ball. Schmetzer’s other strategy was to switch Albert Rusnak and Obed Vargas. When the tactical switch provide no real advantage Schmetzer went to his bench.
In the 66th minute, Schmetzer inserted Jordan Morris and Fredy Montero for Eber ad Obed Vargas. That strategy turned the game in the Sounder’s favor. Morris provided the speed to force defenders to chase him with and without the ball. Montero provided a goal threat inside the Minnesota goal box. With the added speed the Sounders put the visitors on their heels.
The relentless pressure by the Sounders finally paid dividends in the 79th minute. The Sounders earned a throw in and right before putting the ball in play, Dylan Teves replaced Chu. Second, after the sub Nicolas Lodeiro threw the ball into Montero who held up two defenders and flicked the ball with his foot to an onrushing Rusnak. The right-footed missile by Rusnak was the lone goal the Sounders needed for the shutout victory. The win was a club-record fifth consecutive home game with a clean sheet.
BIG TAKE AWAY
The Sounders won a game when everything was off kelter. Kelyn Rowe started for Nouhou who was scratched from the lineup just before the game due to an illness. Eber returned to the lineup but was a bit rusty when it came to being a presence inside the goal box. Good teams win the games you are not at your best. Last night ‘s performance affirmed that the Sounders are a deeply talented team that can grind games out. What is needed for the Sounders now is some consistency.
- With tonight’s 1-0 win, Seattle moves back to the top of the Western Conference, tied with St. Louis for first place with 19 points, but trailing the Missouri side via tiebreakers.
- The Rave Green move to 11-1-1 against Minnesota across all competitions, including an 8-0-0 mark at Lumen Field. Seattle’s 10 regular-season wins against the Loons are the most against any opponent in MLS since 2017.
- Of matches played 10 or more times (including postseason play), Seattle’s 84.6 percent win rate against the Loons is now the best by a team against a single opponent in MLS history.
- With his goal in the 79th minute of play, midfielder Albert Rusnák recorded his first strike of 2023. The goal was his fourth in Rave Green, and his 45th regular-season tally in MLS.
- Fredy Montero was credited with an assist of Rusnák’s goal, his first of the year and 52nd assist in all competitions for Sounders FC.
- With the start tonight at leftback in place of Nouhou (illness), Kelyn Rowe made his 350th professional appearance in a career dating back to 2012. Rowe has represented four MLS clubs in that span, including his hometown Rave Green (2021-present), the New England Revolution (2012-2018), Real Salt Lake (2019) and Sporting KC (2019).
- Brazilian forward Héber got his third start of the season at forward tonight, replacing the injured Raúl Ruidíaz, who injured his right hamstring earlier this week in training. Héber has two goals on the season for Sounders FC, his first campaign in Seattle after joining the club from New York City FC during the offseason.
- At Lumen Field in 2023, the Rave Green are now 4-0-1 through their first five matches on home turf. Notably, Seattle has not conceded a home goal thus far in 2023.
- Sounders FC has now kept a shutout in five-straight home matches for the first time in club history (dating back to the team’s inaugural MLS season in 2009).
Seattle Sounders FC 1 – Minnesota United FC 0
Saturday, April 22, 2023
Venue: Emerald Queen Casino Pitch at Lumen Field
Referee: Armando Villarreal
Assistants: Kevin Lock, Diego Blas
Fourth Official: Mark Allatin
VAR: Jorge Gonzalez
Weather: 58 degrees and light rain
SEA – Albert Rusnák (Fredy Montero, Alex Roldan) 79’
MIN – Jeong Sang-Bin (caution) 43’
MIN – Michael Boxall (caution) 56’
SEA – Yeimar (caution) 81’
LINEUPS & STATS
Seattle Sounders FC – Stefan Frei; Alex Roldan, Yeimar, Jackson Ragen, Kelyn Rowe; João Paulo, Obed Vargas (Jordan Morris 66’), Albert Rusnák, Nico Lodeiro (Xavier Arreaga 90’+2’), Léo Chú (Dylan Teves 79’); Héber (Fredy Montero 66’)
Substitutes not used: Stefan Cleveland, Ethan Dobbelaere, Sota Kitahara, Reed Baker-Whiting, Danny Leyva
Total shots: 15
Shots on goal: 3
Minnesota United FC – Dane St. Clair; Zarek Valentin, Miguel Tapias, Michael Boxall; Robin Lod, DJ Taylor, Hassani Dotson, Kervin Arriaga; Jeong Sang-Bin (Franco Frangapane 70’), Bongokuhle Hlongwane, Mender García (Luis Amarilla 59’)
Substitutes not used: Clint Irwin, Joseph Rosales, Eric Dick, Cameron Dunbar, Britton Fischer
Total shots: 9
Shots on goal: 4