The Seattle Sounders dispatched USL Championship side Sacramento Republic 3-0 in a closed-door, 120-minute scrimmage at CenturyLink Field on Wednesday.
Fielding a strong Starting XI for the first 75 minutes of the fixture, the Rave Green showed no signs of rust as they dominated possession and created chances at will. New Designated Player João Paulo absolutely bossed the midfield, while Seattle’s front four put on an attacking clinic.
The Sounders raced out to an early lead in the 2nd minute as Raúl Ruidíaz fired a laser beam of a shot into the bottom corner from 30 yards out. Seattle doubled their advantage seven minutes later, with Kelvin Leerdam finding the feet of Harry Shipp, who hit a first-time shot into the bottom corner.
But the best play of the day came courtesy of João Paulo in the 35th minute. The Brazilian calmly clipped a perfectly weighted 40-yard ball that put Leerdam 1-v-1 with the goalkeeper, only for the right back to unselfishly square it for a Jordan Morris tap-in at the back post.
Sacramento pulled one back with a powerful, close-range volley in the 72nd minute. After a full lineup change, the Sounders re-established their three-goal lead courtesy of Justin Dhillon, who scored a first-time shot off assists from youngsters Shandon Hopeau and Chris Hegardt.
The Republic did manage to pull one back in the 96th minute, but Dhillon responded immediately responded as he completed his brace one minute later. Alex Roldan rounded out the scoring in the 117th minute with cheeky finish, megging the goalkeeper from close range.
JP IS LEGIT
Seattle’s new midfielder was absolutely dominant in his first appearance for the club. Operating alongside Jordy Delem in the center of the park, he casually dictated the tempo with his excellent range of passing. Whether it was quick combinations to break pressure or a 50-yard diagonal pass, his superb ability on the ball was on full display. In particular, his secondary assist on Morris’ goal was pure class.
The team celebrates Morris' goal in the 35th minute | Mike Fiechtner
ROLDAN THE WINGER
At training this week, Roldan was asked about how he feels about playing out on the wing heading into the season. What followed was a tactical breakdown of the unique qualities he brings to the position, and that was apparent in the win over Sacramento. Roldan and Leerdam combined well in the final third all afternoon, playing quick 1-2’s and unbalancing the opposition. In fact, it was his decoy run that opened up the space for Leerdam to get in behind on the third goal.
THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT
After the starters went 75 minutes, a mixture of younger guys from the First Team, Defiance, Academy and trialists played a 45-minute period against the Republic. Academy midfielder Hegardt, 18, put in a promising shift at central midfield, while Hopeau and Dhillon posed a constant threat in the final third. The center back pairing of Sam Rogers and Josh Atencio did a solid job of both building out of the back and mitigating Sacramento’s threat on the break.