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Eric Goncalves

Three Takeaways: Seattle Sounders storm past Vancouver Whitecaps to secure spot in knockout rounds at MLS is Back Tournament

The Seattle Sounders entered their final match of the MLS is Back Tournament group stage needing three points against the Vancouver Whitecaps to advance to the knockout rounds.

With their backs against the wall, the Rave Green stepped up, collecting a convincing 3-0 win courtesy of goals from Nicolás Lodeiro, Jordan Morris and Raúl Ruidíaz.

Seattle came flying out of the gates against Vancouver, with Morris and Handwalla Bwana carving out several chances inside the first ten minutes. That pressure eventually paid off in the 12th minute as Morris earned a penalty kick, which Lodeiro calmly dispatched for his first goal of the season.

Fueled by their early goal, the Sounders continued to throw numbers forward to devastating effect. Just 20 minutes after opening the scoring, Seattle doubled their advantage, with Lodeiro playing a dinked pass in behind Vancouver’s back line for Morris, who settled the ball before coolly sliding his shot underneath goalkeeper.

Seattle maintained their dominance in the second half, as Ruidíaz put the match out of reach with a poacher’s goal from a corner kick in the 51st minute. The Sounders dominated possession to close out the match, limiting Vancouver to speculative shots and half chances.

With the win, Seattle is through to the knockout rounds of the MLS is Back Tournament. However, the Rave Green will have to wait until Chicago and Vancouver go head-to-head on July 23 to know whether they’ll go through as the No. 2 or No. 3 seed from Group B.

Here are three takeaways from the match.

Sounders Never Quit

Put simply, this club never gives up. You can pick from numerous examples – the 2016 turnaround that resulted in the club’s first MLS Cup title, the 2017 turnaround to return to the title, the nine-game winning streak in 2018, or the remarkable run to lift MLS Cup in 2019 – the Sounders always raise their game when their backs are against the wall.

All week, Sounders FC players and coaches talked about how this team never quits – how they perform their best when the pressure is on. They backed up all that talk with a resounding 3-0 win over their rivals to the North.

Attack Beginning to Click

Despite picking up just a single point through the first two matches, the Sounders had moments where they got forward well and defended resolutely. However, the rust from their four-month layoff was still evident.

On Sunday, the attack finally started firing on all cylinders, as they found the back of the net three times from seven shots on target. The team also combined for 11 key passes as they repeatedly wove their way through Vancouver’s midfield and defense with electric combination play. If not for some smarts stops from the Whitecaps’ goalkeepers, they could have notched four or five goals.

Bwana Bright Again

Following the match against Chicago, Bwana, who scored the lone goal in Seattle’s 2-1 loss to the Fire, appeared on the latest episode of Winging it with Zak and Brad. The Homegrown winger said that, if he can keep his confidence up, he can be one of the best wingers in MLS.

Bwana was rewarded with a start against Vancouver in a must-win game, and the kid stepped up. Not only did he come close on several occasions to finding the back of the net for the second consecutive match, he posted an assist on Ruidíaz’s goal and was generally dangerous on the ball. On the defensive side, he showcased the kind of relentless pressure and willingness to track back the Schmetzer demands from the wingers in his system.