Second-half goals from Xavier Arreaga and Brad Smith propelled Seattle Sounders FC (5-0-1, 16 points) to a 2-0 victory over Western Conference foe Los Angeles FC (1-2-2, 5 points) on Sunday evening at Lumen Field. With the victory, Seattle has matched a club record for the best start to a season (2019), beginning the 2021 campaign with 16 points (five wins and one draw), good for top of the Supporters’ Shield race and MLS Western Conference. Beginning one week ago in Portland, Seattle closes out the week with a maximum of nine points from three matches, defeating the Timbers and San Jose Earthquakes on the road, and now LAFC in the Emerald City.
After a scoreless first half, Seattle broke the deadlock in the 57th minute, as Arreaga bagged his first goal as a Sounder from a João Paulo corner kick. Smith sealed the victory in the 73rd minute of play, heading home a beautifully-orchestrated team goal that was created by smooth combination play between Cristian Roldan, Alex Roldan and Raúl Ruidíaz.
Of note, Stefan Cleveland got the nod in goal for the injured Stefan Frei, recording his first shutout as a Sounder and just his second career MLS win. Additionally, Homegrown signing Reed Baker-Whiting made his First Team debut as a substitute in second-half stoppage time, becoming the fifth-youngest player in MLS history to play in a league match (16 years, 46 days).
MEDIA NOTE: Prior to tonight’s game, the club honored former Sounders FC Chief Financial Officer Martha Fuller with a moment of silence. Fuller was instrumental in the club’s launch as an MLS franchise, serving as CFO of both Sounders FC and the Seattle Seahawks for five years. An active member of the community and a proud resident of Orcas Island, Fuller was passionate about the Puget Sound region and a staunch supporter of the Sounders. She is survived by her husband Tim, a former Redmond Fire Chief. Fuller made a lasting impression on all those she encountered, and is going to be deeply missed by those that knew her in the Sounders community, in addition to all of her family and friends.
Seattle now prepares to face Eastern Conference side Atlanta United in a week’s time, as Sounders FC hosts the Five Stripes on Sunday, May 23, with the match being televised on network FOX. Kickoff is slated for 1:30 p.m. PT. The Rave Green then close out the month of May with a third-consecutive home match against Austin FC on Sunday, May 30.
- With tonight’s victory, Seattle matches the record for the best start to a season in club history (MLS era). With five wins and one draw (16 points), Brian Schmetzer’s side equaled the record of the 2019 team through six games.
- Following the win, Seattle remains both top of the Supporters’ Shield race and MLS Western Conference standings (both by four points). Sounders FC has also scored more goals (13) than any other team in the league, and has the best goal difference (+11).
- Sounders FC is tied with Orlando City for the best defensive record in MLS, with both clubs allowing just two goals (Seattle has played six matches to Orlando’s five). Seattle leads the league in shutouts, accumulating four clean-sheets on the season (three clubs are tied with three shutouts).
- In three home matches thus far, Seattle has not conceded a goal at Lumen Field in 2021. Sounders FC is the only team in the league that has not conceded a goal at home (other than expansion side Austin FC, who has yet to play at its new stadium). In addition to tonight’s win, the club previously recorded a 3-0 win over Minnesota United on April 16 and 3-0 victory over the LA Galaxy on May 2.
- After playing an adjusted 3-4-3 formation on Wednesday night in San Jose, Sounders FC Head Coach Brian Schmetzer reverted back to the 3-5-2 look that he fielded the first four matches of 2021. After starting midweek in Northern California, Xavier Arreaga remained in the lineup tonight alongside fellow centerbacks Yeimar Gómez Andrade and Nouhou. João Paulo returned to the lineup in central midfield for Danny Leyva, as did forward Will Bruin, replacing Ethan Dobbelaere.
- Sounders FC is 5-4-2 all-time against LAFC in MLS play (including postseason results). The club has a 3-4-2 record in regular-season action. The two sides also met in the Knockout Stage of the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando last season, with LAFC earning a 4-1 win.
- Replacing the injured Stefan Frei in goal (L knee sprain), Stefan Cleveland made his Sounders FC regular-season debut on Sunday night, recording a shutout in just his sixth overall league match. Coincidentally, Cleveland’s only other MLS win came as a member of the Chicago Fire, a 3-1 victory that also came against LAFC on September 29, 2018.
- Scoring the go-ahead tally in the Xavier Arreaga in the 57th minute of play, central defender Xavier Arreaga recorded his first Sounders FC goal in 33 regular-season appearances. The Ecuadorian joined the Rave Green during the 2019 season, and has played in five of Seattle’s six matches this campaign (four starts).
- Brad Smith’s strike in the 73rd minute of play was his second goal in as many matches against LAFC this season. The speedy wingback also scored last month at Banc of California Stadium, netting the equalizer on April 24 in a 1-1 draw. The Australian now has three goals in 2021, good for second on the roster in scoring behind Raúl Ruidíaz (five goals).
- At 16 years and 46 days, recent Homegrown signing Reed Baker-Whiting is the fifth-youngest player in MLS history to play in a league match. The Seattle native made his professional debut tonight in second-half stoppage time as a substitute of João Paulo. Fellow Sounders FC Academy product Danny Leyva is fourth on the list of youngest players to feature in league play, having made his debut at 16 years and 31 days at Montreal on June 5, 2019.
- After tearing his right ACL on Wednesday night in San Jose, Seattle players honored injured midfielder Jordy Delem with a banner of support during the pre-match photo this evening. That image can be found in the match gallery and is available for editorial use.
- After playing on national television tonight and five of six matches in 2021, Seattle prepares for a network television audience for the second time this season on Sunday, May 23 vs. Atlanta United. FOX is broadcasting the match, with Seattle last having played in front of a network audience on May 9 at Portland, when ABC carried the contest.
Seattle Sounders FC 2 – Los Angeles FC 0
Sunday, May 16, 2021
Venue: Lumen Field
Referee: Joseph Dickerson
Assistants: Jeremy Hanson, TJ Zablocki
Fourth Official: Fotis Bazakos
VAR: Timothy Ford
Attendance: 7,173 (reduced capacity)
Weather: 78 and sunny
SEA – Xavier Arreaga (João Paulo) 57’
SEA – Brad Smith (Alex Roldan, Raúl Ruidíaz) 73’
SEA – João Paulo (caution) 45’
SEA – Yeimar (caution) 52’
LAFC – Jesus David Murillo (caution) 78’
LINEUPS & STATS
Seattle Sounders FC – Stefan Cleveland; Alex Roldan, Yeimar, Xavier Arreaga, Nouhou, Brad Smith (Shane O’Neill 83’); Kelyn Rowe (Danny Leyva 68’), João Paulo (Reed Baker-Whiting 90’+2’), Cristian Roldan; Will Bruin (Fredy Montero 84’), Raúl Ruidíaz
Substitutes not used: Spencer Richey, Ethan Dobbelaere, Jimmy Medranda
Total shots: 10
Shots on goal: 3
Los Angeles FC – Pablo Sisniega; Jesus David Murillo, Tristan Blackmon (Kim Moon-Hwan 77’), Eddie Segura, Marco Farfan (Diego Palacios 77’); Latif Blessing, Mark-Anthony Kaye, Eduard Atuesta, Deigo Rossi, Jose Cifuentes (Carlos Vela 70’); Corey Baird (Danny Musovki 70’)
Substitutes not used: Francisco Ginella, Bryce Duke, Antonio Leone, Jordan Harvey, Tomas Romero
Total shots: 9
Shots on goal: 3