The ‘Next Man Up’ philosophy earned Sounders FC another three points on the road.
The Seattle Sounders left Texas once again with a 1-0 victory by way of a second-half Raúl Ruidíaz goal. The last time this occurred was on July 22, when the Sounders set a league record by starting five teenagers and Ruidíaz tallied a 67th minute 41 yard match-winning golazo.
A new Seattle Sounders starting lineup kicked off the Wednesday night match against FC Dallas in Frisco, Texas — with notable changes coming by Nicolas Benezet earning his first start for the Rave Green, Will Bruin making his first start since June 26 after returning from injury, AB Cissoko making his first start since July 22 and goalkeeper Spencer Richey making his second start of the season.
All earned high praise from Head Coach Brian Schmetzer, newcomer Benezet included.
“That was a good, good preview of what he can bring to this team,” said Brian Schmetzer. “I thought he played well in the pockets, he was able to sustain possession. You know his movement around the field was good, he found little pockets of space. You know, I think you saw a very skillful technical player that's able to contribute. And so, we were very pleased when we were watching the first half. That was a good first start for him, for sure.”
Beyond Benezet, Richey rose to the occasion once again after being tagged to start earlier this week — making his first start for the Sounders since that historic July 1-0 victory over Austin FC on the road. The Seattle native secured his second shutout in as many starts, marking the club’s eighth shutout of the season.
“The staff, they gave me a heads up, you know, a few days back that I was going to play the midweek game. You know, whether you get a little bit of a heads up or not you know you got to be ready for your opportunity and you know that's how guys have long-lasting careers so I just tried to have that mindset,” said Richey.
“When I do get one [a chance to play] you know I'm prepared for it. And, you know, fortunately, we've been able to get two results out of those games.”
Best of all, his standout performance earned recognition from the birthday boss, Schmetzer, who celebrated his 59th birthday.
“I would be remiss to not mention Spencer Richey’s performance. I thought he did a great job tonight. And, you know, the whole team came together to maybe get a little payback for that result up in Seattle. I mean, they were determined not to let this one slip away,” said Schmetzer.
The roster depth has delivered time and time again, thus expectations are high when a player is called into start. Few understand the importance of stepping up when called upon more than Kelyn Rowe. The versatile MLS veteran, regarded for his ability to play a multitude of roles at a high level, has played nearly everywhere along the midfield line this season, also earning starts at the wingback position. Last night the Federal Way native expected the refreshed lineup to achieve the expectations that come with the ‘Next Man Up’ motto, helping lead the squad to victory in his 90 minutes of play at the wingback role.
“Step up when your name is called, even if it's last minute. If you come in as a sub, if you play a full 90 you do your job, you do it to the best of your ability,” said Kelyn Rowe after the match.
“I think everyone that stepped on the field today and everyone stepped on the field this year has done so, so you see that within the whole group.”
The belief in the depth of this squad is not only shown by its veterans but is also clearly shown by Brian Schmetzer. Schmetzer and the club will likely seek to continue to rely on the roster as an impacted second half of the season quickly approaches — with notable matches coming on August 29 against the Timbers at home, September 14 against Santos Laguna in Leagues Cup play and on September 26 against Western Conference contender Sporting Kansas City. The past month of matches played as an example of what Schmetzer can expect from every member of his team, reminding him of the long established Sounders FC winning culture.
“It reminded me of just the determination, the sheer determination to, you know, defend, and play and win,” said Schmetzer. “And it's just all part of the you know the culture of the club and the winning mentality of the club.”
“We have that spirit. We don't go away from home hoping for a draw. That's not the way we view things.”
The culture defining win marks Sounders FC’s third win in a row and sixth victory on the road in MLS play this season — most importantly, pushing the team back atop the Western Conference standings. Now, following the latest away matches in Portland and Dallas, Seattle will conclude its three-game road trip on Saturday, August 21 against the Crew in Columbus.