The new Homegrown Player was a second-half substitute in a 2-1 loss to the Mexican club that marked the end of the Sounders’ training in Tucson, Ariz.
TUCSON, Ariz. – New Homegrown Player signing Jordan Morris made his Sounders preseason debut in a loss as Seattle fell 2-1 to Celaya FC in a Tuesday night friendly at Kino Sports Complex.
Morris’ preseason debut was quiet. Barring a noteworthy piece of hold-up play – when he spun a Celaya defender at midfield before sparking an attack – the rookie didn’t get a whole lot of touches after entering as a halftime substitute.
“He’s new to our team,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said afterward. “He’s never played with our team before. He’s never even really trained with our team. It’s asking a lot from him.”
Celaya pounced on a pair of Jimmy Ockford defensive errors in the opening 17 minutes to take an early lead.
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On Celaya’s first goal, Ockford lost the initial header then slipped when he tried to recover. He was at fault again on Celaya’s second, whiffing on an attempted tackle and allowing his man to slip inside to tee up Rodrigo Lopez for a rocket.
“I thought the first 20, 25 minutes, we were horrible,” Schmid said.
Andreas Ivanschitz was one of the Sounders’ bright spots. The midfield is still developing its chemistry, but that’s less of a pressing concern when the Austrian is going hero mode with solo runs toward the opposing box. Ivanschitz dribbled through defenders and played in teammates, winning a series of corners via dangerous crosses.
He earned an assist, too, picking out Nelson Valdez with a pinpoint free kick eight minutes into the second half, and would have had others if the Paraguayan had kept his first-half headers on target.
Seattle leaves Tucson with three defeats in three 90-minute games – all by the same exact final score. And if this was supposed to be a tune-up for the Feb. 23 Champions League quarterfinal against defending champion Club America, the manner of defeat was disconcerting.
As might be expected from a team already a handful of games into its regular season, Celaya looked much sharper than its MLS foe for most of the night. The Bulls were calm in possession and wisely picked their spots to attack. But Club America is in midseason form, too. And while Celaya currently calls the Mexican second-division home, America is the defending CCL champions.
Seattle has two weeks to sharpen up, but this defeat may prove ominous.
“You’re at the end of a long stay,” Schmid said. “Everybody wants to get home and leave Tucson – no offense to Tucson. But we’ve been here for a long time, 10 days. We could tell in the locker room before the game that mentally, they were checked out. We were hoping it wouldn’t take something for them to wake up.
“If you have to judge the game, early on, they knocked the ball around us. If we give Club America that kind of space and time, they’ll kill us.”