The first two matches of Sounders FC’s 2023 preseason took place on Saturday at the Dame de Roche Football Pitches in Marbella, Spain.
The first contest vs. Wolfsberger ended in a 0-0 draw, while the follow-up match ended in a 3-2 loss to Hammarby.
STARTING XI VS. WOLFSBERGER AC – FORMATION: 4-2-3-1
GK: Stefan Frei
RB: Alex Roldan
CB: Yeimar Gómez Andrade
CB: Jackson Ragen
CM: Josh Atencio
CM: Albert Rusnák
RM: Cristian Roldan (SUB: Antonio Herrera)
AM: Nico Lodeiro
LM: Jordan Morris
FW: Raúl Ruidíaz
STARTING XI VS. HAMMARBY IF – FORMATION: 4-2-3-1
GK: Stefan Cleveland
RB: Ethan Dobbelaere (SUB: Cody Baker)
CB: Abdoulaye Cissoko
CB: Xavier Arreaga
LB: Kelyn Rowe
CM: Sota Kitahara
CM: João Paulo (SUB: Georgi Minoungou)
RM: Reed Baker-Whiting
AM: Fredy Montero
LM: Léo Chú
CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR
There were several chances in the first match that nearly ended in a goal, but it seems like the guys were just one touch or one yard away from being able to capitalize. Playing against a five-man backline, clear chances were far and few between, but the veteran midfield of Rusnák-Lodeiro-Roldan had several impressive combinations to try to break the line. Morris’ speed was a threat on the left flank and Ruidíaz broke free a couple times but couldn’t quite get to the ball in time.
While it can be tough to give a proper assessment without a box score or the ability to rewind film, it looked like Lodeiro put in a MOTM performance in the first match. He seemed especially effective at getting the ball to Morris out wide, in addition to the usual involvement in the middle of the field.
RETURN OF JP
The highlight of today was the return of João Paulo, who played 45 minutes in his first appearance since tearing his ACL in the CCL Final last May. His impact on the pitch is tangible, as the Sounders seemingly controlled possession with build-up play much more effectively in the first half. He pulls all the strings in the midfield and sprays the ball everywhere… it’s simply a joy to watch.
GOALS OF YOUNG AND OLD
Both goals came in the second match, with the first by Fredy Montero and the second by Defiance midfielder Georgi Minoungou. In the 39th minute, Héber found Montero on the left side of the area where Montero hit a well-struck ball and tucked it into just inside the bar for the 1-0 lead. About 30 minutes later, Minoungou, who subbed on for JP at half, scored an impressive strike with a one-time hit to the far post.