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Toronto Proves Important Test for Seattle Sounders with LAFC Looming

Seattle Sounders
Seattle Sounders players celebrate team win with their fans | Photo by Mike Fiechtner for Sounders FC Communications | April 13, 2019

It was a tumultuous week for Seattle Sounders FC after getting stranded in Colorado due to a snowstorm that caused their match against the Rapids to be postponed. The postponement may have been a blessing for Sounders though as they were able to field the same lineup as they did the week prior against Real Salt Lake as Raul Ruidiaz was a game time scratch from the 18-man roster for Brian Schmetzer’s side.

With Toronto FC in town, the Rave Green was in for a difficult contest on Saturday but they managed to prevail 3-2 thanks to a brace from Will Bruin and the eventual winner from Cristian Roldan. Jozy Altidore had two goals of his own as he opened the scoring in the 11th minute and closed the scoring in the 70th.

Alejandro Pozuelo unlocked the defense early, floating a perfect ball to the head of Altidore as Chad Marshall was caught turning the wrong way and Altidore snuck the shot near post on Stefan Frei.

Seattle responded well to the early deficit and drew level in the 24th minute as Bruin headed home a deflected cross from Brad Smith and had a second header minutes later that was saved by Quentin Westberg.

In the first half, Toronto did well to make life difficult for Seattle up the Sounders’ prefered left side of the field, forcing Seattle towards the right and making them play a slower more deliberate attack.

Seattle Sounders

Seattle Sounders forward Will Bruin after scoring his goal | Photo by Mike Fiechtner for Sounders FC Communications | April 13, 2019

In the second, Seattle played more aggressively up the left and were able to get behind the defense on several different occasions ultimately leading to Bruin’s second goal of the night. Again it was Brad Smith with the service into the box although this time it was to Bruin’s sliding feet for the goal.

Two minutes later Roldan doubled the lead for Seattle with an impressive finish over the head of Westberg from a difficult angle. Nico Lodeiro made a run to create a pocket of space for Roldan to run into and Kelvin Leerdam saw the space open up and made the through pass for Roldan.

Seattle Sounders

Cristian Roldan of Seattle Sounders celebrates his goal | Photo by Mike Fiechtner for Sounders FC Communications | April 13, 2019

“I saw Nico make a run, he opened up a lot of space and I felt like if I stayed in that space I would get the ball. I took a bit of a heavy touch but I think I made up for it with the shot,” said Roldan with a laugh. “I’ll take it but I still need to be sharper.”

Altidore managed to pull one back late as Pozuelo fed a perfect ball through the Sounders’ defense and even with Marshall closely defending him, Altidore managed to poke the ball past Frei and off the inside of the post for a goal.

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The final minutes of the match were a tense affair as Toronto put a lot of pressure on the Seattle defense as they looked for an equalizer. Sounders struggled to clear their defensive third in stoppage time and Pozuelo almost tied the game with a curling shot towards the right post but Frei made a diving save to push the shot wide. Laurent Ciman came close to punishing Seattle for failing to clear their zone as well as his long range shot beat Frei but hit the outside of the post and out for a goal kick.

Seattle Sounders Toronto FC

Nick DeLeon (Toronto FC) attempting to intercept Seattle Sounders defender Brad Smith’s pass | Photo by Mike Fiechtner for Sounders FC Communications | April 13, 2019

Roldan admitted that defensively Seattle needed to be better, singling out himself when saying, “I felt defensively I could have been a little bit tighter on Pozuelo. It’s a really good team, really good players, guys that can hurt you in one moment.”

Sounders have a difficult stretch of matches ahead of them with a home-and-home series with Los Angeles Football Club on back-to-back Sundays sandwiching a home match against San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday. With LAFC having several dangerous attackers Seattle has a busy week of preparation ahead of them but that didn’t keep Schmetzer from being excited about his team’s performance.

“What I loved about the game and what I loved about our team was…we went down 0-1 to a really, really good side that was feeling like they had some good possession. Then we came back to get three really good goals so that was what was impressive about our team.”

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