Seattle Sounders FC continued their best start to a season on Saturday night, beating visitors Real Salt Lake 1-0. Nico Lodeiro scored a fantastic volley in the 18th minute for the game’s only goal, beating keeper Nick Rimando to his near post while falling backwards as he hit his shot.
From the start Seattle applied high pressure on RSL and forced them into turnovers and difficult passes allowing Seattle to control the possession battle for the majority of the half. Will Bruin, starting in place of Raul Ruidiaz, was instrumental in providing pressure on the center backs as well as providing solid hold up play once Seattle retained possession and moved forward.
For much of the night Seattle built out of the back and tried to spread the field as much as they could but were often lacking the precision needed with their passes to breakdown the Salt Lake defense. On the occasions when a bad pass lost them possession though the defensive recovery was fantastic at stopping breakaways and slowing down the attack so they were not caught out numbered in their defensive end.
Sounders continued to have success down the sidelines with overlapping runs and quick passing but struggled to connect the final pass or make the crucial touch to find the second goal in the match. Their best look in the second half came from Cristian Roldan out working his defender to a ball heading towards the end line and then making a great pass back towards the penalty spot for a waiting Jordan Morris but Morris’ first time shot was skied high over the bar.
While Seattle is now 4-0-1 to start the season, they’ve yet to score off a set piece although their 34 corner kicks through five games is the best mark per game in the league (Los Angeles FC’s 35 through six games is the highest total). Against Salt Lake, Seattle won seven corners in the first half alone but couldn’t direct one into the back of the net. Often the corners were hit near post which coach Brian Schmetzer said was the plan for RSL.
“Tonight we felt we had the bigger team so we put a few more balls into the box. Normally we’d like to have Victor and Nico out there playing two against one or two against two. That’s been something we’ve been working on as well. We’ll continue to work on it.”
Schmetzer though dismissed the idea that the lack of scoring from set pieces is cause for concern saying, “we work on set pieces every week; we have Chad Marshall. It’s gonna break.”
Schmetzer was more concerned with what should have been the equalizer for Real Salt Lake in the 73rd minute. From a free kick in their own end, RSL’s Aaron Herrera hit a long pass into the 18-yard box for Jefferson Savarino who beat Brad Smith and put a shot past keeper Stefan Frei only for it to come off the post to defender Kim Kee-hee who cleared the ball from the box.
“I’m not pleased with it,” said Schmetzer. “I’m not pleased with it at all. It was a set piece… that ball traveled 70 fricken yards on the field up in the air and our guys didn’t react so I’m not very happy about that at all.”
The win puts Seattle three points back of league leaders LAFC with a chance to match their 16 points through six games on Wednesday when Sounders travel to Colorado to take on the Rapids in their second meeting of the season before returning home to face Toronto FC on Saturday.