Player Features

Young midfield trio shows promise in home opener against Austin FC


While the team was disappointed with the scoreless draw against Austin FC on Saturday, there was a silver lining in the promising play of the Sounders’ midfield. 

Without regular starters Albert Rusnák and João Paulo, the young midfield three of Josh Atencio, Obed Vargas and Pedro de la Vega showcased a dominant effort on both sides of the pitch in tonight’s 0-0 draw at Lumen Field.

“They’re three young talented players,” said Head Coach Brian Schmetzer.

Atencio (22), Vargas (18) and de la Vega (23), demonstrated a comradery and connection that allowed the team to control the flow of the game. Whether it was the combination plays in the attack or the way they were able to high press and win the ball back on defense, Seattle’s midfield trio put in a strong shift. 

“I liked that setup,” said goalkeeper Andrew Thomas. “I think Pedro was incredibly fluid getting into spots, getting deeper, getting the ball, and getting a little bit across the field. And Josh and Obed are so composed. It's almost funny when you remember how old they actually are because they play so much more senior than their years.” 

The way the three midfielders played off of each other and their surrounding teammates created several chances for the Rave Green. With that trio in the engine room, the Sounders dominated duels won and possession, and generated 21 shots, 14 of which were inside the box.

“I felt like we unbalanced [Austin] and got in positions to break them down centrally,” said Atencio. “They were giving us a lot out wide and Pedro kind of found a lot of those soft spots where you can pick the ball up and drive and create advantages with [Léo] Chú which I thought was good.”

Atencio had a chance of his own with a redirected header in the box in the 76th minute, forcing Brad Stuver into a sprawling reflex save, while Obed attempted a shot from distance at minute 68, but it went just wide. de la Vega was also very present in the box, serving in set pieces, through-balls and crosses for his teammates to attack.

The positives were present between the three midfielders and the rest of the team on Saturday night, but the Sounders are determined to turn one point to three when they travel to Pennsylvania next weekend to take on Philadelphia Union (4:30 p.m. PT; Watch on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV, 950 KJR AM, El Rey 1360AM) in Match 3 of the MLS regular season.

Atencio was optimistic about the future for his team post-match. 

“We'll get in the film room, and we'll diagnose the issues and see what we did well and what we can build on.”



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