The Seattle Sounders may have left it late to pick up three points against Real Salt Lake, but the win was fully deserved after a dominant performance.
Seattle did a much better job of controlling possession and they converted their 55-percent possession into 16 shot attempts, with six of them on target. Instrumental to the improved attacking output was the penetrating attacking movement from midfield by Cristian Roldan. He was a constant threat in the first half and is a constant threat when his brother, Alex, occupies the full back and forces the center back to pick up Cristian.
Will Bruin also came back into the team and again showed a great understanding with Raúl Ruidíaz as their partnership continues to blossom. Bruin and Ruidíaz were both involved in the buildup to the opening goal, which was dispatched brilliantly by another trademark late-arriving Cristian Roldan run.
While the attack kicked up a gear, the Sounders continue to be incredibly difficult to break down defensively. The shift to a 3-5-2 will take most of the credit, but João Paulo continues to offer incredible protection in front of them. His ability to read and break up play has been critical to stopping the opposition penetrating centrally, and the Brazilian has an excellent passing range to turn defense into attack quickly. He arrived in Seattle as a No. 8, box-to-box midfielder, but he can lay claim to being the best defensive midfielders in MLS so far this season.
The Vancouver Whitecaps are coming into Saturday’s game on a five-match losing streak but it’s the last two games that encapsulate their season so far. Against Real Salt Lake last week, they created numerous clear goalscoring opportunities and held a much higher expected goal number than their opponents yet fell 2-1 after conceding twice in stoppage time.
The Whitecaps then welcomed Los Angeles to their temporary home in Salt Lake City, and after outshooting the Galaxy in a tight contest, they once again conceded after the 90th minute to lose another heartbreaker. Although there were signs of improvement in their performances over the last week, they still have the second worst expected goals number in MLS with 9.5. Only Austin has scored fewer goals than the Whitecaps’ eight in the Western Conference, and this is one of the main reasons the team sits in 12th place in the West, already a whopping 17 points behind the Sounders.
Where is the threat?
The Whitecaps may not create that much from open play, but they are a real threat on set pieces. Former Sounder Andy Rose is one those players who they look for on corners and free kicks, and he was unlucky not to score against RSL last week.
It's worth noting that the Whitecaps have been playing their home games in Salt Lake throughout the pandemic. A lack of any real home games has to be factored in when you consider their MLS record this season.