Another trip to Texas with a heavily rotated starting lineup, another 1-0 win courtesy of a Raúl Ruidíaz golazo! The Seattle Sounders claimed all three points against FC Dallas thanks to the superest of super subs.
The team weathered quite a storm as Dallas held just under 65% of possession and took 18 shots to Seattle’s 9, but for all the pressure Spencer Richey was only forced to make 2 saves while earning his second shutout in as many starts. That’s at least in part due to the performance by the players in front of the goalkeeper, as the Sounders blocked 6 shots with 2 of those coming inside the Seattle penalty area.
The Sounders remained seven points behind Supporters’ Shield-leading New England but jumped ahead of Sporting KC in the Western Conference race.
The first half felt pretty quiet when both teams went into halftime scoreless, but not for a lack of effort. The two sides combined for a total of 12 shots in the first half, but the best chance of the half fell to Kelyn Rowe who had an unmarked header that he sent well wide of the goal in the 44th minute.
The game changed in the second half as Brian Schmetzer subbed João Paulo in for Cristian Roldan at the half, then brought on both Nico Lodeiro and Raúl Ruidíaz in the 63rd minute. Seconds after entering the game, Lodeiro was on the ball in the attacking third and found Ruidíaz with a pinpoint pass. Ruidíaz’s initial shot was blocked, but he collected his own rebound and sent an arcing shot over the ‘keeper that banked off of the crossbar and the far post and eventually into the back of the net. Those were Seattle’s only two shots in the second half, and Dallas proceeded to take 10 shots of their own in the final 30 minutes but found no joy as Seattle continued to stifle them and hold on to take all three points. The Sounders now have a chance to close out a nine-point road trip when they face the Columbus Crew on Saturday.
8’ — Richey plays the ball to Xavier Arreaga inside the box and under pressure, and Ricardo Pepi picks the pass off. Arreaga gets a touch to the ensuing shot sending it out for a corner.
20’ — Jesus Ferreira unleashes a shot that Richey dives to keep out. The rebound falls in a dangerous spot, but Shane O’Neill clears it before anything comes of it.
32’ — Jimmy Medranda takes a free kick from 20 yards out and his left-footed attempt swings just wide of the near post.
44’ — Nico Benezet finds an open Rowe at the back post, but his header sails wide.
47’ — Richey comes up with another big save denying a clear look from Dallas. The shot off of the rebound goes wide.
55’ — Will Bruin appears to give the Sounders a lead, scoring off a Kelyn Rowe cross but is ruled just offside.
63’ — Immediately after subbing into the game Nico Lodeiro finds Raúl Ruidíaz. His initial shot is blocked, but he immediately sends the rebound back in and hits it off of the crossbar and the far post and into the back of the net! 1-0 Sounders
89’ — Dallas push forward and nearly get a look at goal, but Brad Smith continues a defensive run and beats the attacker to the ball to clear it for a corner.
Happy birthday Mr. Manager: Brian Schmetzer seems like the kind of guy who probably doesn’t make a big deal out of his birthday. Nevertheless, a win on the road in a stadium his team hasn’t won in since 2014 — with a rotated squad, no less — is surely something he’ll be happy to celebrate. That the result came on his birthday is only a coincidence, but it’s a great excuse to celebrate the club’s steward who continues to make his case for finally winning the Coach of the Year award that he so deserves. He manages to get more out of his players than anyone else in the league could, and he’s got guys like Ruidíaz and Lodeiro seemingly happy to come off the bench when necessary as long as it helps the team. Happy birthday, Schmetzer, you deserve to celebrate.
Raúl Ruidíaz just keeps going: Raúl Ruidíaz hit something of a slump that coincided with the Sounders’ slump, going without a goal as the team lost two and drew one in their three-game homestand. It was the longest run of games he’d had without a goal all year, only going longer than one game without scoring one other time. Since then, as the Sounders have turned things around so has Ruidíaz. He’s got three goals in his last two games — including two absolute bangers — and is leading the Golden Boot race with 14 goals through 20 appearances. Ruidíaz has been a consistent threat during his time in Seattle, but we hadn’t really seen him catch fire before. It seems like the wait for that is over.
Josh Atencio is legit: The Sounders may have had to rotate a bit for this one, but they faced something pretty close to Dallas’s best lineup available. While Seattle had to bend under Dallas’ pressure throughout the night Atencio was key in making sure they didn’t break. From his position in midfield he consistently won contested balls in the air and on the ground, and showed a good deal of quality going forward as well. On Will Bruin’s disallowed goal, while Rowe hit a fantastic ball that would have gotten the assist the whole play happened because of Atencio’s awareness and ability to find Rowe making a run. He led the Sounders with 14 duels, and was only second in the game to Bryan Acosta’s 18, and continues to show that the star turn he took to start the season was more than just a fluke.
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