SEATTLE – The Seattle Sounders couldn’t quite overcome a first-half tally from Diego Rossi, eventually falling 1-0 to expansion side LAFC in their 2018 MLS season opener at CenturyLink Field on Sunday.
Dealing with fixture congestion as they try to balance the beginning of their MLS campaign with CONCACAF Champions League, the Sounders fielded a mix-and-match lineup with regular stalwarts such as forward Clint Dempsey and center back Chad Marshall resting ahead of Seattle’s CCL fixture against Chivas de Guadalajara on Wednesday (7 p.m. PT; Go90.com, Univision, SoundersFC.com, El Rey 1360 AM | TICKETS).
Jordy Delem, a defensive midfielder, drew the start at right back, while Tony Alfaro, Henry Wingo and Handwalla Bwana were all young faces that also saw minutes. In the end, Rossi’s 11th-minute golazo -- the first in LAFC franchise history -- would hold for the visitors as they procured a massive road result in their debut match.
Sounders General Manager and President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey has made no secret about the fact that he wants the club to make a sustained run into this year’s Champions League tournament and with their quarterfinal fixture with Chivas looming, it wasn’t exactly a surprise to see Sounders Head Coach Brian Schmetzer save some of his firepower. Expect Dempsey and Marshall to factor into that Wednesday match as Seattle look for a quarterfinal result.
SO CLOSE, YET SO FAR
The Sounders certainly had their chances on Sunday, especially in a second half that saw them notch a flurry of looks at an equalizer that never came. Bwana came especially agonizingly close shortly after he subbed on in the second half after he had a shot take a deflection off the woodwork. In all, the Sounders outshot LA 22-5 on the day.
MILLER COMES UP BIG
LAFC took former Sounders goalkeeper Tyler Miller as the first pick in this year’s MLS Expansion Draft and the former Northwestern University standout showed why in Sunday’s performance. Miller, who backed up Sounders ‘keeper Stefan Frei for two seasons in Seattle, was phenomenal for LA throughout the match, swatting away attempt after attempt at a Seattle equalizer. He was never going to supplant Frei on the depth chart in the future in Seattle, but it looks like Miller is taking to his new home just fine.