The Seattle Sounders, before the 2019 season began, emphasized how important it was to get off to a good start unlike the ones they’ve had in the last three seasons.
Mission accomplished. After Saturday’s 2-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids at CenturyLink Field, the Sounders are 2-0 for the first time since 2012 and sit comfortably atop the Western Conference.
Here’s three things we’ve learned:
Offense improved with Morris
Not having played a regular season game since 2017 because of injuries, Jordan Morris’ absence from the Sounders lineup was apparent. Although he’s yet to play a full game, his presence has been felt.
He scored twice in the opener. With defenses having to respect him, it’s opened up space for others.
“In his own words, he wanted to be goal dangerous,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said following the FC Cincinnati match.
The Morris connection on the right side with Nico Lodeiro and Raul Ruidiaz has opened up the offense for other Seattle midfielders and defenders. The opposing defense has had to play a game of pick your poison.
Kelvin Leerdam and Raul Ruidiaz each have scored twice. There have been plenty of scoring opportunities; Seattle has taken 36 total shots, 27 of which have come from inside the box in their two games.
“I think the counter-attack is always on when Jordan is on the field,” Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan said. “It opens up the field for everybody, and any time you have a guy (Morris) with his stature and his pace other teams are worried about that and they defend a bit more cautious. We’re a better team with Jordan on the field and him playing on the right really extends the field for us.”
Leerdam’s great start
Entering the 2019 season, Leerdam had just one goal in his two seasons covering 41 games with the club. After two games in the 2019 season, the outside defender has already scored twice.
Although he had six assists last season, he said he wasn’t happy with his form. Being in better shape and having his family in Seattle has made a big difference this season.
“Getting fit, last year I was not fit,” Leerdam said. “I had six assists last year and you always try to give your team more. When you feel like your body isn’t right, it always sticks in the back of your mind.
“I feel happy, my family feels happy and they’re here now and everything is good. Let’s keep it going. Knowing I can go home and give my two kids a kiss is a great feeling, it’s something I hadn’t really felt in 18 months since I was gone so it’s a good feeling.”
Meat on the bone?
Being 2-0 with consistent offensive attacks makes it hard to find things to critique, but Schmetzer he’s not entirely happy with the team’s finishing.
Yes, the Sounders have scored six times. But because of their dominance in possession and flury of shots, there is a bit of a feeling of there could have been more.
“We left a little meat on the bone in the sense that yeah, we were great in the first 10 minutes,” Schmetzer said about how the Sounders’ attacked Colorado at the beginning of Saturday’s game.
“But it’s still the second game of the season. The attacking movements are always the hardest thing to do. And in soccer, goals are always the hardest to come by. We will watch the tape and make sure our movements in the box are in the right spots. Make sure guys that are crossing the balls are picking out the right guys, making sure we’re getting the right balance.”
And now that opponents have seen what the Sounders are capable of, the team will need to be more precise and take full advantage of its goal-scoring opportunities, Schmetzer said.
“We’ve been really dangerous from outside and so what if teams start noticing that?” he said. “Then gaps have to open up and we have to make sure we’re balanced and attack.”