During a normal season, no league in the world has more parity than Major League Soccer.
But 2020 is no normal year, soccer or otherwise, and each match across MLS is seemingly more unpredictable than the last.
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The Timbers were fresh off their MLS is Back tournament title and subsequently went 0-2-1 with 11 goals allowed in their next three matches in Phase 3 of MLS play prior to Sunday’s win. Seattle, meanwhile, looked like world-beaters with two convincing wins over Portland and LAFC and a road draw against Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium, a place where the Sounders hadn’t earned a point in seven years.
In a season full of stops and starts, managing mentality is just, if not more, important than physical play. Sounders Head Coach Brian Schmetzer admitted his back line on Sunday was caught uncharacteristically flat-footed on Portland’s two tallies, something he and his coaching staff will be looking to correct moving forward.
“Those were not our best defensive moments this season,” Schmetzer said. “I think we could have done better on both goals.”
Midfielder Cristian Roldan echoed Schmetzer’s sentiments, while putting the onus more on the offense.
“We had a variety of chances that we didn’t put away,” said Roldan. “It was just one of those nights where it just doesn’t go in. We all have those nights, but we should not have lost the game even if we miss those opportunities. We should never concede a second.”
Despite an atypical night defensively, Seattle has still conceded just the third-fewest goals in MLS this season, allowing only nine in nine matches. The Sounders are also second in Goal Differential, behind only Supporters’ Shield-leading Columbus Crew SC.
Matches have come in a flurry. The Sounders have played four in 14 days — it would have been five, but Seattle’s match at the LA Galaxy on Aug. 26 was postponed for a later date to be determined — and have the final installment of this phase of games on Thursday when they host the San Jose Earthquakes (7 p.m. PT; JOEtv, Prime Video, 1090 KJR AM, El Rey 1360 AM).
“It’s good that the next game is coming fast,” said defender Kelvin Leerdam, whose thunderous goal Sunday was his second in as many matches against Portland and his eighth in 73 regular-season starts for the Sounders. “We can turn a negative into a positive quickly.”
Added Schmetzer: “This team is very strong mentally. There’s a bunch of disappointed people in that locker room…I have confidence the team will bounce back.”
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