The final preparations for the 2021 MLS regular season continued on Saturday afternoon as Seattle Sounders FC picked up a 1-0 win over San Diego Loyal in the first of two preseason friendlies at Lumen Field.
Fielding a lineup consisting largely of young guys from the First Team, as well as Tacoma Defiance and Sounders Academy standouts, the Rave Green controlled the match from the opening whistle. Despite looking good on both sides of the ball, with Danny Leyva pulling the strings in central midfield, the Sounders entered halftime with the match scoreless.
Seattle came flying out of the gates once again the second half, showcasing their coordinated pressing scheme and quick combinations in possession. Defiance midfielder Reed Baker-Whiting and Homegrown Player Ethan Dobbelaere each generated a handful of dangerous chances from inside the box, but the score remained deadlocked. That all changed in the 71st minute as Baker-Whiting whipped in a dangerous cross for Sounders Academy midfielder Juan Alvarez, whose one-time shot flashed into the bottom corner.
The Sounders created a host of chances in the final 20 minutes and were a bit unlucky not to add to their tally. Still, the Rave Green secured an impressive 1-0 win against an eager San Diego Loyal side.
The Future Is Bright
With a lineup boasting an average age in the high teens, Seattle controlled proceedings on both sides of the ball. Leyva was a metronomic force alongside Defiance player Sota Kitahara in midfield, breaking lines and spraying perfectly weighted passes out to the wings. Dobbelaere and Baker-Whiting produced several fantastic sequences of soccer as they one-touched and combined their way through the opposition defense. Ultimately, it was Alvarez, a 16-year-old Academy player, who supplied the decisive moment of the match with a clever finish inside the box.
With the season less than a week away, the first scrimmage was a valuable opportunity for the coaching staff to hone-in on their tactical principles. Head Coach Brian Schmetzer got several valuable data points, as the team looked comfortable deploying a relatively new system.
Since San Diego Loyal was able to field two lineups, it gives Sounders FC an opportunity to get a bunch of guys out on the pitch as the build fitness ahead of the season. Seattle’s First Team will roll out for the second match at Lumen Field at 7:00 p.m. PT.