MLS

Defensive Lapses Cost Sounders Three Points at Home Against New England

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - AUGUST 10: Nicolas Lodeiro #10 of Seattle Sounders reacts after missing a shot against the New England Revolution in the first half during their game at CenturyLink Field on August 10, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Defensive Lapses Cost Sounders Three Points at Home Against New England

Seattle Sounders FC scored two minutes into the match and scored two more in a two minute span but still failed to take all three points at home against New England Revolution. Harry Shipp had a brace and Nico Lodeiro scored what looked to be the winner for Seattle only to have a late handball in the box spoil the fun at CenturyLink.

It looked early on like Seattle would be in the driver’s seat thanks to the early goal but New England took advantage of defensive mistakes by the Seattle center backs to take a two to one lead into the half. It was clear that the Revs had the advantage in the air as they were consistently able to find space and win headers over Kim Kee-hee and Xavier Arreaga. Bou and Bunbury were given too much space to work and created lots of problems for Seattle.

Offensively, Sounders looked somewhat lost after the first 15 to 20 minutes and New England took advantage of the lack of midfield control from Seattle. As the half went on, the lack of cohesion from the Seattle attack made it difficult for the home side to maintain possession and create chances in the final third.

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Seattle came out of the halftime break with renewed vigor and began to look much more dangerous. Their passing accuracy improved and scoring chances began to present themselves en route to 14 second half shots.

It was starting to seem though that Seattle would be denied an equalizer until a second goal for Shipp in the 65th minute. The Sounders’ attack looked like it had stalled out in the final third again as the ball took four passes to move from the right side of the field to the left. Joevin Jones found space for a perfect cross though and Shipp was left unmarked as defenders rotated over.

Just seconds later Seattle would re-take the lead as Jordan Morris’ run was met with a nicely lofted ball over the defense from Cristian Roldan. Morris then did well to maintain possession into the box before leaving the ball back for Nicolas Lodeiro for a shot that deflected off a defender and caught goalkeeper Matt Turner going the wrong way.

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The lead would last until the 87th minute when Jordy Delem was whistled for handling the ball in the box when a cross from Carlos Gil hit his outstretched arm and blocked the cross. Gil converted the penalty to tie the match for a third time.

Sounders’ defense was caught out again in stoppage time as Diego Fagundez found space to run behind Arreaga and received a near perfect cross just a few feet from goal but his shot was right at goalkeeper Stefan Frei’s chest and rebounded away from goal. 

Raul Ruidiaz returned this week after missing the last match against Sporting Kansas City and the Peruvian was able to create several chances but failed to convert in front of goal, hitting the woodwork once and having three other shots blocked.

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While the offense has looked more than capable of winning matches for the Sounders lately, their defending has cost them dearly as they’ve conceded eight times in their last three home matches and taken only one point from them. 

In the system that coach Brian Schmetzer has the club playing, the outside backs are encouraged and expected to contribute to attacking situations and then retreat when possession is lost. This has been effective for Seattle for the past few years but only when center backs and defensive midfielders are able to closely mark the opponent’s forwards and close down passing lanes. That hasn’t happened for long stretches this year and it’s cost Seattle valuable points in a tight Western Conference.

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