Seattle, Washington — The Seattle Sounders FC have a history of starting slow in the MLS season. However, right now, the team is firing on all cylinders. If you look at the box scores from their opening two matches, one statistic might catch your eye, though.
The Sounders, against the Chicago Fire last week and against the Columbus Crew SC this week, gave up the first goal at home. Against Columbus, the Sounders needed Raúl Ruidíaz to bury a penalty kick to split the points.
Seattle, as mentioned, gave up the first goal of the match to Gyasi Zardes. Poor marking from centerback Xavier Arreaga caused Zardes to slip inside the box. Luis Diaz recorded the assist on a picture-perfect ball to the U.S. men’s national team forward.
Columbus entered the half with the lead. However, a handball in the 78th minute from Jonathan Mensah set up a penalty for the Sounders. Eloy Room originally saved the first attempt from Peruvian striker Raúl Ruidíaz. But Room jumped off his line too early. Ruidíaz took better aim on the second attempt, equalizing the match.
“The first PK was a pity,” Ruidíaz said through a translator. “I got a second chance, and I was able to score. About the tie, I feel bad about it. Here at home, we have to win all the points. We were not able to deliver that today.”
Midfielder Cristian Roldan spoke about the lesser amount of fans at CenturyLink, due to fear surrounding the coronavirus. He called fans reasonable and said he understood why people are taking precaution.
“Having less people at the game, you want to take the most cautious way of living at this moment,” Roldan said. “In the end, we understand, and everybody’s got to be safe out there.”
SO. CLEAN. 💯
— Columbus Crew SC (@ColumbusCrewSC) March 8, 2020
- Gustav Svensson returns: After dealing with a lingering left calf injury, Gustav Svensson made his season debut for the Sounders. He put in a solid 69 minutes before being replaced by veteran Harry Shipp. The Swedish international picked up where he left off, returning to his starting spot. The chemistry between Svensson and João Paulo will only get better from here.
- Joevin Jones to LB: Joevin Jones got the start at left back, while Nouhou began the match on the bench. When Nouhou did come in during the 59th minute, Jones went up to the midfield. It seems that Brian Schmetzer is hesitant to give Nouhou the start, and a full 90 minutes. Keep an eye on the Sounders defensive lineup this upcoming weekend.
- Will this be Raúl’s spark? Ruidíaz needed to score, plain and simple. Morris entered the 2020 season with a bang, and also saw some good moments during the Concacaf Champions League. However, Ruidíaz has been in a funk, not finding the back of the net. A penalty goal is still a goal, no matter if the first one was a miss. This could very well be the boost that Ruidíaz needs.
What’s next for the Sounders?
Seattle will hit the road for the first time this season on Saturday, taking on the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Stadium. Houston took a hard loss from Sporting Kansas City on Sunday, getting rocked with a 4-0 scoreline. Under a new head coach in Tab Ramos, Houston will look to apply pressure on Seattle’s new backline tandem.
The match will air on ESPN+ and begins at 8:30 p.m. EST.
Meanwhile, the Columbus Crew will return home to host Real Salt Lake at 5 p.m. EST on Saturday.
— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) March 8, 2020