SEATTLE — The Seattle Sounders gave up the opening goal, but struck back for four unanswered, eventually cruising to a 4-1 rout of expansion side FC Cincinnati in Seattle’s first MLS match of 2019 at CenturyLink Field on Saturday.
Leonardo Bertone scored in the 13th for FCC’s lone goal, while Kelvin Leerdam had the equalizer and Jordan Morris bagged a brace to pace Seattle, before Raúl Ruidíaz added insurance in the game’s waning moments.
The visitors struck first after Bertone teed up a highlight-reel golazo that he rifled past Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei, giving FCC a shocking 1-0 lead shortly after the match kicked off.
Seattle struck back in short order, however, as Leerdam found the equalizer in the 27th minute after cashing home a rebound opportunity off a deflected Nicolás Lodeiro cross.
Morris then struck twice in the space of 10 minutes, first with a sleek finish past FCC goalkeeper Przemysław Tytoń in the 33rd minute, setting off an emotional scene at CenturyLink in the 24-year-old forward’s first start after missing all of Seattle’s 2018 season with a torn ACL.
Morris added his second of the evening in the 43rd with a left-footed strike assisted by Víctor Rodríguez to push the advantage to 3-1 before Ruidiaz found the final tally in the 87th minute to seal the 4-1 score line.
It’s doubtful anyone was more excited to be out on the field than Morris, who before Saturday’s opener last started an MLS match more than 500 days ago. The emotion was evident immediately following the first of his two tallies, with the crowd erupting into a raucous standing ovation while Morris was mobbed by his teammates. For Head Coach Brian Schmetzer, the hope is that the strong 2019 debut is a sign of things to come for his young attacker, who has been adapting to a new position on the wing throughout preseason.
This was the second-straight season the Sounders have hosted an expansion team making its MLS debut, a scenario that didn’t pan out as well last season when LAFC came into CenturyLink and bagged a shocking 1-0 victory. Bertone’s opener, which happened early on like LAFC’s lone tally last year, likely gave the home crowd some flashbacks, but Leerdam’s equalizer and Morris’ brace quickly put those concerns to rest and allowed the Sounders to bag all three points.
OFF AND RUNNING
It’s been a long offseason and preseason, but Saturday’s proceedings mean that it’s officially time to rock and roll. The Sounders could hardly have gotten the season off to a more ideal start, but now the focus turns to trying to string the same type of results together. Seattle will get a chance to do so once again at CenturyLink for a matchup with Western Conference foe Colorado Rapids next Saturday (7 p.m. PT; JOEtv, YouTube TV, 950 KJR AM, El Rey 1360 AM | TICKETS).