João Paulo scored his second goal of the season as Sounders FC (13-4-6, 45 points) defeated Minnesota United FC (8-6-7, 31 points) 1-0 on Saturday afternoon at Lumen Field. The win snapped a four-match home winless streak (0-3-1) for Seattle, as the Rave Green remain atop the Western Conference standings, three points clear of Colorado. Goalkeeper Stefan Frei recorded the shutout in his first appearance since suffering a knee injury on May 12 in San Jose.
João Paulo put Seattle on the board early on a well-constructed goal, with assists from Nicolás Lodeiro and Nicolas Benezet. Lodeiro played Benezet into space on the right side of the 18-yard-box, setting up the Frenchman for a low cross to João Paulo at the top of the area. The Brazilian hit a first-time shot that rolled just inside the far post, hitting the woodwork on its way into the back of the net. It marked the first Sounders FC assist for Benezet, as well as the first assist of the season for Lodeiro.
Sounders FC now hosts Mexican side Santos Laguna in the 2021 Leagues Cup semifinals on Tuesday, September 14 at Lumen Field (7:00 p.m. PT / ESPN2, TUDN), before traveling to face Real Salt Lake on Saturday, September 18 (6:30 p.m. PT / JOEtv, Prime Video, 950 KJR AM, El Rey 1360 AM).
• Sounders FC remains atop the Western Conference standings with 45 points, three points clear of second-place Colorado Rapids.
• Sounders FC is 7-1-1 all-time in regular-season play against Minnesota, including a 5-0-0 record at home. This marked the third meeting of the season between the two sides, with Seattle winning 4-0 on April 16 and Minnesota winning 1-0 on July 18.
• João Paulo’s first-half goal marked his second of the season to go along with eight assists, the latter of which is tied for second in MLS.
• Goalkeeper Stefan Frei made his return to the pitch for Sounders FC, marking his first appearance since suffering a knee injury on May 12. The club’s all-time leader in every goalkeeping category, Frei made four saves en route to his third shutout of the season. He has allowed just two goals in 539 minutes in 2021.
• Nicolás Lodeiro’s assist on João Paulo’s goal was his first of the season. His 59 career assists in regular-season play are the most in club history.
• Nicolas Benezet tallied his first assist with the club in his second start since joining the Rave Green on August 5. The Frenchman also scored in a substitute appearance on August 15 in Portland.
• Nouhou made his first start for the Rave Green since a home draw with Austin FC on May 30, following an adductor strain suffered while on international duty with Cameroon in June. Nouhou was included on the bench on August 21 at Columbus and August 29 vs. Portland, but did not appear in either match. Today also marked Nouhou's 100th-career regular-season MLS match.
• Midfielder Léo Chú made his first appearance on the bench for Seattle, but did not appear. The 21-year-old was signed by Sounders FC on August 5 from Brazilian club Grêmio.
• Three of Sounders FC’s five international call-ups from the September FIFA window made substitute appearances today: Alex Roldan, Cristian Roldan and Brad Smith. Raúl Ruidíaz and Xavier Arreaga were still returning from international duty and not available for selection.
Seattle Sounders FC 1 – Minnesota United FC 0
Saturday, September 11, 2021
Venue: Lumen Field
Referee: Alex Chilowicz
Assistants: Jeremy Hanson, Chris Wattam
Fourth Official: Timothy Ford
VAR: Joseph Dickerson
Weather: 70 degrees and clear
SEA – João Paulo (Nicolas Benezet, Nicolás Lodeiro) 22’
SEA – Yeimar (caution) 37’*
MIN –* Osvaldo Alonso (caution) 47’*
MIN –* Adrien Hunou (caution) 49’*
MIN –* Chase Gasper (caution) 77’MIN – Jacori Hayes (caution) 85’*
SEA –* Shane O’Neill (caution) 90’+4’
LINEUPS & STATS
Seattle Sounders FC – Stefan Frei; Kelyn Rowe, Yeimar, Shane O’Neill, Nouhou, Jimmy Medranda (Brad Smith 64’); Cristian Roldan, João Paulo, Josh Atencio (Fredy Montero 78’), Nicolas Benezet (Cristian Roldan 63’), Nicolás Lodeiro; Will Bruin (Alex Roldan 88’)
Substitutes not used: Stefan Cleveland, Danny Leyva, Ethan Dobbelaere, Léo Chú, Abdoulaye Cissoko
Total shots: 10
Shots on goal: 5
Minnesota United FC – Tyler Miller; Bakaye Dibassy, Chase Gasper, Michael Boxall, Romain Metanire; Franco Fragapane (Jacori Hayes 70’), Wil Trapp, Ethan Finlay, Osvaldo Alonso, Hassani Dotson; Adrien Hunou (Fanendo Adi 66’)
Substitutes not used: Dayne St. Clair, Jan Gregus, Joseph Rosales, Fred Emmings, Brent Kallman, Jukka Raitala, D.J. Taylor
Total shots: 15
Shots on goal: 4