The Seattle Sounders continued their dominant form since the MLS restart, this time riding a trio of second-half goals to a 3-1 victory over Cascadia rival Vancouver Whitecaps at CenturyLink Field on Saturday night.
After a scoreless first half, Seattle exploded immediately after second-half kickoff, starting with an opener from João Paulo before an own goal and another tally for Raúl Ruidíaz would round out the scoring.
Seattle had a handful of solid looks at the opener in the first half, but none that quite materialized.
The second half would get off to a roaring start, though, as João Paulo got it started after the Brazilian collected a deflection from deep outside the penalty area and ripped home a gorgeous finish to the far post.
Seattle would double the lead in the 53rd, when Cristian Roldan sent in a cross that took a deflection off a defender for an own goal. Ruidíaz then capped off the barrage with a point-blank headed finish in the 58th.
Vancouver would pull one back in a wild sequence just after the hour mark, when Sounders center back Yeimar was both called for a penalty kick and issued a red card after it was deemed he fouled Lucas Cavallini in the box and committed a denial of an obvious goal-scoring opportunity.
After Video Review, however, the red card was changed to a yellow, but the penalty kick stood, allowing former Sounder Fredy Montero to score what turned out to be Vancouver’s lone goal of the evening from the spot.
The Sounders bared down after that, narrowly missing multiple chances at a fourth goal, while keeping the visitors to the one goal, eventually seeing out the 3-1 final.
This game seemed stuck in neutral for most of the first half but it really, really picked up in the second, starting with João Paulo’s opener. The three-goal eruption continued a recent theme for Seattle, which has shown a propensity for these explosive stretches where they score goals quickly and in bunches. This team is lethal when they get in one of those zones, and it’s been happening a lot lately. Right now, it has them at first place in the West at 8-3-3 and 27 points.
JOÃO PAULO SHINES
Part of what makes Seattle’s Brazilian Designated Player so good is that he’s so multi-faceted. That was on full display in this match, as he showed his offensive quality with the finish on the first goal. That’s not his primary role, which is typically distributing from deeper spots on the field and playing lockdown defense, but this showed the different ways he can also hurt you.
DEPTH TEST COMING
Saturday’s second-half substitutes gave a good preview of the types of players that are probably going to have to step up in the coming games, with international duty in line for the likes of Gustav Svensson, Xavier Arreaga and Ruidíaz. Will Bruin, Alex Roldan and Jordy Delem all got a run to close out the contest, and all will likely need to play a role in upcoming matches, with the depth stretched and squad rotation already a necessity. It’s going to be fun to see what they can do.