SEATTLE — Seattle Sounders Head Coach Brian Schmetzer stopped short of calling Sunday’s 2-1 victory over Charlotte FC at Lumen Field a must-win game, but the three-point result was nonetheless an important one as the club continues to find its footing in MLS play.
With Sunday’s victory, the Sounders have now taken nine points from their last four matches, putting the club back on a positive track in league play after a euphoric but taxing run to a first-ever Concacaf Champions League title.
“The team has won three out of the last four MLS games, so maybe now we can write a story that we’re finally over the Champions League hangover,” Schmetzer said after the match.
The result was delivered by a pair of second-half goals, first from Jordan Morris with a 72nd-minute header, which preceded Raúl Ruidíaz’s spectacular 80th-minute game-winning golazo.
HIGHLIGHTS: Seattle Sounders FC vs. Charlotte FC | May 29, 2022
While there’s still plenty of work to be done to complete what will hopefully be a continued ascent up the table, this recent run provides some positive momentum ahead of the upcoming FIFA international break.
“Playing that many games is difficult on your body, difficult on your mental capacity, I think, being focused for 90 minutes is a tough thing and being focused for just a long stretch of the year is also difficult,” said right back Alex Roldan, who delivered the assist on Morris's opener. “Then when you add different types of games and tournaments it starts to play a factor in how you’re performing. Obviously looking forward to this break, and when we come back, being stronger.”
Schmetzer echoed that sentiment, saying that the two-week respite is coming at an ideal time of the season after the hectic early-season schedule.
“It’s really important [to have that rest] and we have to make sure when the international guys come back on break, we might need to find a couple of extra days for those guys to mentally decompress,” Schmetzer said. “We’ve played a lot of games this year. It seems like we’re already two-thirds of the way through a season, and MLS seasons are long.
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“You get kind of that midseason malaise that you get tired, you’re mentally fatigued, so this break hopefully is a good one,” he continued. “They can all mentally decompress and then we’ll get right back at it, we’ve got a game against Vancouver and LAFC, a couple Western Conference foes to get us back in rhythm and hopefully we’ll be able to continue this momentum that we started tonight into the next four.”
The match was the first of a five-game home-stand for Seattle, which will play every match at the friendly confines of Lumen Field for the rest of the month, starting with a Cascadia rivalry matchup with the Vancouver Whitecaps (7:30 p.m. PT; FOX 13+, Prime Video, El Rey 1360AM, 93.3 KJR FM | TICKETS) on June 14.
Starting that run of home matches with a win was crucial, Roldan said, in terms of laying the foundation for what will ideally be a run where the club can accumulate enough points to get squarely back in the playoff mix in the Western Conference.
“It’s really important,” Roldan said. “We’re not very happy with how we played, we had a lot of opportunities, but nonetheless going into the break with three points is important for us and I think that’s one step closer to getting where we want to be on the table and getting a playoff spot. So, hopefully with this win we’ll gain a little bit of confidence and momentum after the international break and with a five-game stretch at home, hopefully we’ll gain a lot of points.”