The Seattle Sounders’ 3-3 draw against the LA Galaxy understandably elicited mixed emotions after the final whistle.
The late penalty awarded by upon Video Review was certainly a gut punch, but there were plenty of positives to take away as the Sounders prepare for the final eight matches of the MLS regular season.
Head Coach Brian Schmetzer’s shift to a 5-3-2 injected some potency into the attack, with the Rave Green scoring three goals for the first time in almost two months.
“The Galaxy were desperate for three points, too,” Schmetzer said during his post-match press conference. “But we came back and scored three goals, so that’s a massive positive.”
Seattle’s first goal was emblematic of how the 5-3-2 shape helped unlock the offense.
With two strikers and the wingbacks pushing higher up the pitch, Raúl Ruidíaz had the freedom to drift wide and combine with Alex Roldan. The Peruvian forward quickly turned and drove into the box as his strike partner, Jordan Morris, dragged three defenders out of position with a run to the near post. Ruidíaz then picked out left wingback Kelyn Rowe, who found himself wide open at the back post for a first-time finish.
“It was my job to make sure that I’m in the box when the ball is on that right side,” noted Rowe. “As a wingback, it’s a little different than playing left back. It’s my job to get in the box and Raul played a great ball in and I was able to finish it.”
The new team shape also helped club captain Nicolás Lodeiro, who thrived playing underneath two strikers and flanked by attacking wingbacks. Seattle’s midfield maestro posted three key passes, tallied an assist on the second goal, and helped create the third goal with a pinpoint cross to Yeimar.
“I think I found more space for myself,” said Lodeiro. “In this formation, it gives me more freedom to play.”
Another positive takeaway from the match was the continued strong run of form from Danny Leyva. The 19-year-old Homegrown Player built off his impact substitute appearance against Atlanta and fantastic shift as a starter against RSL with yet another promising performance against the Galaxy.
Always a technical and capable passer, Leyva has added a bit of defensive bite to his game. That willingness to defend and ability to control tempo has freed up Albert Rusnák and Lodeiro to play higher up the pitch.
In his last two starts, Leyva has won four tackles and 11 duels, posted five interceptions, and completed 88.7 percent of his 124 pass attempts.
“When he plays with the confidence he’s playing with now, he’s a very effective player,” Schmetzer said of Leyva. “He’s overcome some injuries, [and] he’s embracing that shot at being a starter with everything that he has inside of him.”
The Sounders return to action on Friday as they travel south to take on the Portland Timbers (7:00 p.m. PT; ESPN, ESPN Deportes, 93.3 KJR FM, El Rey 1360AM) at Providence Park in a Western Conference match with massive playoff implications.