Seattle Sounders FC hosted an inter-squad scrimmage at Lumen Field on Sunday as the club ramps up preparations for the start of 2021 MLS regular season against Minnesota United on April 16 (6:30 p.m. PT; FS1).
While the team wasn’t necessarily split into starters and reserves, the first group featured a larger contingent of veteran players and the second group fielded some of the younger guys on the squad with a few Tacoma Defiance players mixed in. In an exciting back-and-forth affair, Group One emerged with a 4-2 victory on the back of a Fredy Montero hat trick and Josh Atencio golazo.
Group One jumped out to an early lead in the 4th minute as Montero combined quickly with Will Bruin in Zone 14 before sliding his shot into the bottom corner. Group Two responded quickly in the 10th minute, with Ethan Dobbelaere providing an assist for Defiance midfielder Sota Kitahara.
The score remained level until midway through the second half, with Group Two taking a 2-1 in the 66th minute lead when Danny Leyva played a clever pass to Sounders Academy left back Taka Sasaki, who smashed a left-footed shot into the bottom corner. Group One responded quickly with two Montero goals in four minutes apart before Atencio smashed home a volley from 25-yards in the 86th minute for a 4-2 win.
A few takeaways from the closed-doors scrimmage:
1.) Montero Magic
The headline kind of says it all. Montero was magnificent at Lumen Field on Sunday, posing a constant threat every time he got on the ball. His chemistry with Bruin was immediate and devastating as the two combined and created off each other for 90 minutes. What immediately caught the eye was the way Bruin occupied defenders and made decisive runs, freeing up Montero to pop up in dangerous spaces created by his strike partner.
From an individual perspective, the diversity of Montero’s three goals was particularly impressive. The first was a right-footed curler from inside the box, the second saw him lob the goalkeeper after a clipped pass from João Paulo, and the third was poacher’s finish after a cutback pass.
2.) Building Toward 2021 Season
In many ways, Sunday’s scrimmage was exactly what you’d expect from an internal preseason outing. Both teams worked through their progressions, focusing on building sharpness and fitness ahead of the regular season. There were some moments of rust, but many more sequences of exciting attacking soccer. The team will wrap up its preseason preparations next weekend as they host San Diego Loyal SC at Lumen Field on April 10.
3.) The Kids Can Play
One of the themes of the offseason has been the club’s commitment to finetuning its player development process. Head Coach Brian Schmetzer and General Manager & President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey have spoken at length about the opportunities Seattle’s young prospects have to truly break into the First Team this season. On Sunday, five players that came through the Sounders Academy – all of whom are under the age of 20 – got on the scoresheet.