SEATTLE — Real Salt Lake came to town to play the Seattle Sounders for the first time in 2021, and got sent home with a bunch of yellow cards, a PK and zero points. The Sounders grabbed their second consecutive 2-1 win in their three-game week on goals from Cristian Roldan and Raúl Ruidíaz.
The Sounders dominated throughout the entire first half, holding a significant lead in shots (9-3) and controlling over 60% of possession, but had nothing to show for it. That changed just under 15 minutes into the second half when Cristian Roldan put the finishing touch on an excellent play to open the scoring. The game was relatively quiet after the goal until the final quarter of an hour when both teams were awarded and scored penalties. The Sounders’ PK came in 87th minute, and Ruidíaz stepped up and finished confidently for his 8th goal of the season and his 50th career MLS goal (including playoffs).
This game serves as something of a balm after two frustrating draws at home and a grind of a win away down in LA. The Sounders were clearly the better team and had the chances and goals to prove it, as well as winning 51 duels to RSL’s 38. On top of the joy of getting another three points, remaining undefeated and staying on top of the Supporters’ Shield race, Seattle also got Josh Atencio back on the field after he missed 7 games with an injury and we got an extended look at Jimmy Medranda who put in a potential Man of the Match performance. The Sounders are back in action on Saturday, hosting the Vancouver Whitecaps at 6 PM.
15’ — Raúl Ruidíaz takes a shot from outside of the box that’s easily dealt with after some impressive control and dribbling from Jimmy Medranda.
36’ — RSL nearly gets an open look at the Sounders’ far post off of a corner kick, but Will Bruin intervenes at the last second.
39’ — Ruidíaz gets in behind the RSL defense courtesy of a great ball from Medranda, beats the ‘keeper and gets his pocket picked after taking too many touches to set up his shot.
58’ — Cristian Roldan opens the scoring, finishing up what was effectively an alley-oop off of the ‘keeper from Will Bruin. 1-0
77’ — Ruidíaz receives a yellow for attempting to create Maradona’s “Hand of God” goal after an excellent cross from Alex Roldan.
78’ — At the other end of the field, Stefan Cleveland is judged to have fouled Rubio Rubin and RSL is awarded a penalty. Albert Rusnak puts his PK away to level the score. 1-1
86’ — The Sounders are awarded a penalty of their own for a handball. After some shenanigans from RSL, Ruidíaz puts the Sounders back on top with a Panenka. 2-1
Brad Smith who?: Medranda got his first start at left wingback, with Brad Smith on the bench. Smith has received plaudits for his sudden turn as a goal scorer, but it’s fair to criticize or question his performance this season outside of his contributions on the score sheet. Medranda showed plenty of pace as he moved up and down the field, but much more importantly he demonstrated a tenacity and technical ability on the defensive end of things. Medranda also showed that he can be a much better option in the Sounders’ possession game, and has even been pretty goal dangerous. His performances have certainly given Brian Schmetzer something to think about when he picks his lineups going forward.
Making your own luck: Soccer’s a weird sport, mostly due to how few goals are scored per game. The Sounders were the better team by almost any metric you could think of, but you also wouldn’t be totally incorrect to say that they were lucky to come away from this one with a win as it took a late penalty to secure the result. That’s the way things go, though, and the penalty didn’t come from nothing. The Sounders may have been lucky to be able to get a penalty, but they were equally unlucky not to have scored on some of their earlier chances in the game. That’s all to say that soccer is weird, the Sounders are good, and they’ll continue to make their own luck as the season goes on.
CB depth and rotation: Abdoulaye Cissoko has stepped into the lineup over the last two games due to the absences of Xavier Arreaga and Nouhou, unavailable due to international duty and injury respectively. The young CB was understandably an unknown quantity for many Sounders fans, but has so far shown himself to be right at home in the squad. His physical presence, speed, ability to read the game, and his quality on the ball have all made him a difficult test for opposing attackers and an asset to the team. His ability to gel quickly with the group, in addition to what he offers on the field, has to make Schmetzer and his staff pretty happy with their options in the back, and may have some difficult decisions to make when everyone’s available as Cissoko’s been the best or second best CB for much of his time on the field.
Great team goal, even better reaction from Will Bruin.
Schmetzer: Last time someone did a penalty like that in a clutch moment was Gonzo Pineda. Raul’s penalty, you saw all the shenanigans to try to delay the penalty and put Raul on ice and he comes up with THAT. You saw the smile on his face. Big time moment by a big-time player.
— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) June 24, 2021
Big performances from new guys and big players alike.
50 — Raúl Ruidíaz scored his 50th MLS goal (regular season + playoffs) in tonight’s win.
Man of the match
320 votes total