Seattle Sounders FC competed in a pair of preseason friendlies on Wednesday at the Mexico City complex where the team has been training for the past week. A group of First Team players played Club Atlético Zacatepec to a 2-2 draw, while a squad comprising First Team/Tacoma Defiance/Sounders Academy players topped Pumas UNAM U-20s by a score of 2-1. Forwards Raúl Ruidíaz and Jordan Morris scored a goal apiece in the first of the first match, while Danny Robles and Handwalla Bwana netted goals in the second scrimmage.
BACK LINE LOOKS SHARP
Head Coach Brian Schmetzer rolled out a back line of Kelvin Leerdam, Xavier Arreaga, Yeimar Gómez Andrade and Nouhou in the first scrimmage. The group paid immediate dividends, as it was Nouhou’s full-field burst and pass to Ruidíaz that led to a goal in the 14th minute. Wednesday’s friendly allowed for us to see the first paring of Gómez Andrade and Arreaga (the tandem is dubbed “YeimArreaga” from now on) in a competitive match, and the talent is indubitably there. The squad allowed two second-half goals, though, so there is still room for improvement.
THE FINISHERS FINISH
A great sight was to see both Ruidíaz and Morris score goals without needing many chances. Ruidíaz sat perfectly at the top of the area, waiting for Nouhou to draw in defenders on the left flank. When Nouhou sent a pass to Ruidíaz, the Designated Player took a couple touches and rifled a shot into the top corner for the 1-0 lead. Twenty minutes later, Morris perfectly tracked a deep goal-kick from Stefan Frei, gathered the ball and snuck a shot into the near post. The Sounders’ attack is potent with these two banging in goals.
FIRST TEAM PLAYERS SHINE IN SECOND SCRIMMAGE
The friendly against the Pumas UNAM U-20’s featured a much younger lineup, with left back Joevin Jones wearing the captain’s arm band. The two standout players for me were Justin Dhillon and Bwana. Dhillon was relentless in chasing down balls and was unlucky to not finish one of his chances. Bwana knocked in a goal from close range and added an assist to Tacoma Defiance’s Danny Robles to lead the group to a 2-1 victory.