The Seattle Sounders secured three points and the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference for the 2019 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs with a 1-0 victory over Minnesota United at CenturyLink Field on Sunday.
Entering the match in control of their destiny, Seattle came flying out of the gates against the Loons. Winger Jordan Morris, who scored the game-winning goal against the San Jose Earthquakes the previous week, carved out several quality opportunities with his direct running in transition.
Seattle’s pressure, bolstered by the raucous crowd at CenturyLink Field, eventually paid off in the in the 29th minute as Román Torres bagged his first-ever goal for the Sounders. After a broken-down corner-kick play, Joevin Jones whipped a cross toward the back post that Torres headed home for the 1-0 lead.
The Sounders managed to generate a few more quality looks but were unable to extend their lead.
Both teams traded control of the match throughout the second half, though the Rave Green seemed content to cede possession as they looked to attack space on the counter. Minnesota piled on the pressure late, but Seattle’s defense managed to repel each attack, holding on for the clean sheet and three points.
Seattle will host FC Dallas in Round 1 of the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs at CenturyLink Field on October 19 at 12:30 p.m. PT. Single-match tickets go on sale to the public on Monday, October 7, at 2:00 p.m. PT at SoundersFC.com/Tickets or by calling 877-MLS-GOAL.
VETERAN EXPERIENCE PAYS OFF
The Sounders have been here before. Led by a veteran group that boasts the likes of Nicolás Lodeiro, Cristian Roldan, Stefan Frei, Gustav Svensson, Torres and Morris, the team knows how to pick up win when it enters playoff mode. That veteran savvy was on full display, as several players put in their best performances of the season.
In addition to dominating his defensive matchups, Torres scored the decisive goal that booked Seattle’s spot as the No. 2 seed. Lodeiro re-entered the lineup after a spell of injury and showed no signs of rust, dictating tempo in the midfield all afternoon, while Svensson was an absolute force in the midfield.
Seattle’s coaching staff clearly identified that Minnesota’s strength in the attack – sending the outside backs forward to create wide overloads – could be exploited as its greatest weakness defensively. Every time Romain Métanire and Chase Gaspar went forward, Seattle would win the ball back and send direct balls into the channels for Morris and Raúl Ruidíaz to attack.
They also identified former Sounders captain Osvaldo Alonso as the key to Minnesota’s attack, so the team immediately re-pressed the Loons as soon as they lost the ball. Not only did this lead to dangerous turnovers in the visitors’ defensive third, it also starved Alonso of the ball and limited his influence in the attack.
25' Big chance again courtesy of a counterattack fueled by the magician @NicolasLodeiro springing the beast @JmoSmooth13! But Ruidiaz has his shot blocked on the end of it and it stays scoreless.— Sounders Matchday (@LIVESounders) October 6, 2019
SEA 0 | MIN 0 #SEAvMIN
MORRIS IS HUNGRY
He didn’t get on the scoresheet today, but Morris once again showcased why he’s one of the most in-form attacking players across the league. On top of his typical pace and physicality, he combined well with the midfielders and exploited gaps in Minnesota’s back line. The Mercer Island native created several quality chances out of seemingly harmless situations throughout the course of the match, unsettling the Loons’ defensive shape. With the postseason just around the corner, look for the Homegrown to be a decisive influence as the Sounders strive for a third appearance in the MLS Cup final.