Seattle Sounders open with 3-1 advantage over NYCFC in semifinal

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Seattle, Wash. — Following three first-half goals and a second-half penalty at Lumen Field, the Seattle Sounders open with a 3-1 advantage over NYCFC in the first leg of Concacaf’s Champions League semi-finals.

Jordan Morris dominates the first half

Starting the matchup both teams would provide an exciting back-and-forth with NYCFC’s Keaton Parks creating the game’s first opportunity, a 9th minute shot from just outside the box well-secured by goalkeeper Stefan Frei. Seattle would counter this in the 10th minute with a ball over the top touched down by Jordan Morris for a 2-on-1 chance saved by Sean Johnson.

With the ball already moving it wouldn’t take long for one side to strike and it would be the Sounders’ first in the 16th minute. Some possession and a switch of the field would find the ball with Christian Roldán outside the edge of the box for a sweeping pass to Morris now just inside the box. A flick-on from Morris would hit Albert Rusnák in stride who tucked home a shot for the Seattle lead, 1-0.

NYCFC would have an answer however, as the ball worked its way through Alfredo Morales to Talles Magno on the wing in the 27th minute. On the overlap, Magno would find Malte Amundsen for a one-touch pass floated across the box and eventually snapped down by Valentín “Taty” Castellanos. Bouncing one time between two Seattle defenders, the ball finds Thiago Andrade for a wide-open opportunity, slammed in by the Brazilian for a 27th minute goal.

Just mere minutes later it would be a Seattle throw-in as the clock reached the 34-minute and Nicolás Lodeiro tossed the ball behind NYCFC’s defense. Touching it down with defenders chasing, Roldán would play a low pass into the middle for a curling top corner finish from Morris to regain the lead, now 2-1.

Seattle ended the half with one last chance as the ball found its way to Alex Roldán on the wing, breaking towards the 18-yard box. A one-touch pass whipped across from Roldán managed to find the head of Raúl Ruidiaz for what should have been a goal but instead was easily collected by Johnson. 

Seattle enhances its lead with a VAR awarded penalty

New York City would open the second half with a great opportunity in the 49th minute as Parks played a perfect ball to Taty one-on-one with the keeper behind the Seattle defense. Trying to get a touch on Parks’ pass, Taty fumbles the ball and subsequently the chance, pushing it wide to maintain a Sounders advantage.

Settling into the second, the next two on goal would come from Seattle first in the 64th minute as Ruidiaz placed a ball just out of reach of Johnson which Christian Roldán tipped just over the bar. Next with Christian Roldán working a pass into the box, NYCFC’s Thiago Martins cleared the ball with Ruidiaz lurking on what seemed a normal defensive play. Upon review from the referees, it was revealed that Martins had fouled Ruidiaz and thus Seattle was awarded a penalty. Calm from the spot, Lodeiro put it to Johnson’s left and in the 68-minute extended the Seattle lead to 3-1.

 

Last Word: Seattle gets the job done; NYCFC struggles continue

Credit to Seattle in this one who on the backs of Jordan Morris, Christian Roldán, and Raúl Ruidiaz executed head coach Brian Schmetzer’s plan to perfection and wore NYCFC down. No doubt losing Maxi Moralez to injury just prior to the game hurt New York City who were evidently missing a creative spark, but overall Seattle pushed the tempo, kept NYCFC off balance, and constantly retreating. 

Seattle will have a huge advantage and NYCFC a big mountain to climb as leg two heads to Red Bull Arena for Wednesday, April 13. But if NYCFC can’t find a way to get the offense going and to capitalize on the chances they’re creating, they’ll have no shot to pull this one back in New Jersey. Conversely, the Sounders need to keep doing what they managed in leg one against NYCFC and should have no problems advancing in this semi-final despite being on the road.

 

Photo: Jane Gershovich // Seattle Sounders FC.