Sounders vs. RSL Preview
Well that certainly was a great start to the season! After a nervy crossbar deflection from the Rapids, the boys in Rave Green showed their experience and quality and glided to a comfortable 4-0 win. It is way too early to tell if the Sounders are that good, the Rapids are that bad (or hurt), or if it was just a fluke of a game, but for a team that hasn’t been in the win column since September it was just nice to shake off the bad vibes. As Brian Schmetzer noted though, it’s on to the next and Real Salt Lake is a team that always gives Seattle problems. Let’s dig into what we can expect for this Saturday's matchup!
Photo Credit: Mike Fiechtner/Sounders FC
Rebuilding the Fortress: One of the stated goals from the Sounders this season is to not allow points at home to slip away. After last season's abysmal home performance (9-5-3), the Sounders are looking to defend Lumen Field and not let points slip away. While Colorado had a few decent chances, the Sounders defense was up to the task and prevented any great looks. I expect more of the same this week when Salt Lake comes to town. RSL managed to put two past Vancouver to get the road win, but the Whitecaps defense is not nearly as stingy as the Sounders. Another shutout is entirely possible if Nouhou, Ragen, Yeimar, and Frei can all stay organized.
Building from the Back: One of the best moments of the game was Cristian Roldan scoring an unassisted header off of his own rebound. Overshadowed by the goal itself was the beautiful buildup that took 10 passes and 9 different play
ers to move the ball from just outside of the Sounders box all the way into Colorado’s net. This is the second game where the Sounders have shown the benefit of minimizing roster turnover year to year, as a cohesive unit attacked as one to pick apart the Rapids defense. RSL will be unlikely to counter this level of building pressure, and I expect the Sounders will be able to capitalize with at least a few good looks at goal, hopefully leading to….
Tenacity in front of goal: The biggest difference for me this week compared to last season was the Sounders’ hunger to score. Every goal was a product of team attacking, but more importantly individual will to finish the play. Cristian Roldan following up his own saved header, Jordan Morris salmon diving to push the ball over the line, Héber attacking the Six to bury as missed clearance from Colorado, and finally Morris again following up a pinballed corner to put the final hope out for the Rapids all showed a fire that was sorely lacking last season. I am not sure if the team was tired, out of ideas, or just out matched, but if this team is able to stay hungry and fresh in front of goal the rest of the league, and RSL in a few days, better be on high alert.
Last week, Aaron called the multi-goal win, Zach called the shutout. So since we can just make up the rules anyway, we will call the season score 1-1.
Aaron: Goals are going to be scored on Seattle, but I don’t think it is happening this week. I am seeing the Sounders put in another strong performance, with Raúl coming off of the bench, to win 2-0.
Zach: I love the optimism, but RSL has burned me enough to call a frustrating 1-1 draw for this match.
Player Watch: Alex Roldan nearly scored the best goal of his career with a 20 yard curling strike that just barely missed bouncing off the crossbar and into the net. He looked locked in with his brother on the right side of the pitch, and with his freedom to move forward and the confidence to shoot, I think he will have an opportunity to add to the Roldan “Bangers Only” family legacy this week. And if not, his service into the box is definitely going to cause fits for RSL.
Bet of the Match: Cristian Roldan is playing like a man possessed and putting himself in dangerous positions. With Jordan Morris running the left side with pace, Cristian should get some good service in dangerous areas to put shots on target. I like the +420 odds to have Cristian Roldan have at least two shots on target this week!