The Seattle Sounders played arguably their best opening half of the season on Saturday in their resounding 3-0 win over Austin FC at Lumen Field. The front four of Raúl Ruidíaz, Nicolás Lodeiro, Jordan Morris and Albert Rusnák were ruthless in attack, constantly dissecting an Austin side that has been one of the best teams in Major League Soccer this season.
The win was the second consecutive for the Sounders, who are making a late push to try and extend their league-record postseason streak to 14 years. Seattle has scored seven goals in the last three matches and is finally clicking like it had earlier this year when it became the first MLS club to win Concacaf Champions League.
“This was a step forward in the sense that the team rewarded itself for the hard work that they do in training,” said Head Coach Brian Schmetzer. “Raúl, you can feel him [being hungry]. He’s hungry for goals.
“We thought Jordan had a good matchup against their left back,” he continued. “Before the game, we thought that was going to be one of the keys to the game, and it was true. Jordan was faster, stronger.”
For the second straight match, Schmetzer moved Morris from his usual position on the left and put him on the right to connect with right back Alex Roldan. Morris was lively all evening and was crucial in getting in behind Austin’s defense. His runs led to both goals for Ruidíaz, who now leads the team with nine on the season.
“I feel like I have a really good relationship with Alex,” said Morris. “He played a couple really good balls in behind that started both goals.
“Raúl is an incredible goalscorer,” Morris added. “We’re really fortunate to have him. You see that in both goals today, just clean finishes for him. When he’s on fire like that, it’s so helpful for the team.”
Part of why the Sounders could unlock their four big stars up front was the honest, unselfish play in central midfield by Homegrowns Danny Leyva and Josh Atencio. The pair has started in the double-pivot the last two matches, and their chemistry, as well as their gritty defensive work and line-to-line passing, has fueled an attacking resurgence.
“The question coming into the game was could Josh and Danny do that together against a good team? Well, there’s your answer,” said Schmetzer. “[Leyva’s] passing ignited a lot our attacks. What I love about Danny is when he feels pressure, he can play the ball with one touch and get himself out of jams…Danny has always been a connector, and he’s just now coming into a good run of form.”
Added Morris: “For a couple of younger guys, they don’t play like it. They play with a lot of confidence and they’re both really good players and work hard for the team. I’m proud of both of them.”
The Sounders ended the evening just three points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with four matches remaining. Morris mentioned how the team had put itself in a bit of a hole, but the club is hoping to ride its recent momentum through the finish line and into yet another postseason appearance. They have another must-win match at BC Place against Cascadia rivals the Vancouver Whitecaps next Saturday (7:08 p.m. PT; FOX 13+, Prime Video, 950 KJR FM, El Rey 1360AM).
“We still have a lot of work to do, but we’ve had a couple good games, especially this one I thought we were really good in a lot of areas,” said Morris. “We have to treat each game like a final and try and get three points.”