Stefan Frei says he’s joking when he wonders why his Sounders team bothers to travel for road matches if they aren’t going to at least draw, thus earning a minimum one point for their efforts.
“We could stay at home, go on vacation or train and we’d have the same amount of points,” the goalkeeper said last week of outright losses. “That’s the frustrating part.”
Seattle packed all the frustration and boarded another flight, this time to face the Los Angeles Galaxy. The Sounders unleashed weeks of exasperation from not being able to execute at home or on the road, a needling rule keeping the club from returning with a hard-fought comeback.
Sounders defender Xavier Arreaga had his arms in what was flagged by VAR as an “unnatural” position in defending in the box, referee Victor Rivas awarding the Galaxy a penalty in second-half stoppage time. LA striker Dejan Joveljic converted the penalty against Frei, knotting the game at 3-3 Friday at Dignity Health Sports Park.
“By the letter of the law, they got it right,” Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said. “The ball hit his arm, his arm wasn’t moving toward the ball. But we had two defenders there, so even if the ball would have gone passed Xavier, our guys would’ve cleaned it up. There was no negating of the advantage. … Give them a ton of credit for the comeback, that shows you that our team still has fight left in them. But you go to the end and it’s another gut-punch.”
Before the final two minutes of regulation, the Sounders thought they pulled off a gritty come-from-behind result. Still the club snapped a four-game road losing streak and bumped themselves above the playoff line to seventh place. A bonus was preventing Supporters’ Shield leaders Los Angeles FC from becoming the first club to clinch a berth, but that’s a pending formality.
Sounders forward Jordan Morris had the go-ahead goal in the 73rd minute. The score was a quick reaction after Galaxy keeper Jonathan Bond blocked a header attempt from defender Yeimar Gomez Andrade.
It was Morris’ first goal since July 23 against Colorado.
Sounders striker Raul Ruidiaz had an assist to Kelyn Rowe and a goal of his own earlier in the second half to rattle the LA fans gathered at the stadium in Carson, California. Rowe used a smooth, right-footed shot to get the team on the board in the 53rd minute. It’s his first goal since July 2021.
“The fact that we were able to get that goal and start the comeback was incredible,” Rowe said. “It’s good resiliency for this team. However, the last 10 minutes of the game, we’re fighting for balls. We’re fighting for everything. We’re not getting what we need out of this.
“It’s frustrating because we need to grind these games out.”
Rave Green captain Nico Lodeiro delivered a cross from the end line to Ruidiaz in the box for the 2-2 equalizer in the 61st minute. Ruidiaz jumped his 5-foot-7 frame into the air to head the shot past Bond. The goal capped a wild series where teammate Albert Rusnak hit the post twice before Nouhou got the ball to Lodeiro.
Ruidiaz bagged his first goal since June 14 against Vancouver.
LA (10-11-4) entered halftime confidently ahead 2-0.
Mexican international Chicharito was skillful in between Sounders defenders Nouhou and Arreaga to log the opening goal in the 10th minute. Galaxy forward Kévin Cabral had the assist.
LA midfielder Víctor Vazquez added to the count with a stunning golazo in the 42nd minute that will be debated if it was an attempt or intended pass. Regardless, the tip of Frei’s glove enough wasn’t able to redirect the ball from tucking under the upper left corner.
Schmetzer altered his starting formation and lineup for the LA match. Veteran midfielder Cristian Roldan was a late scratch due to a “left athletic pubalgia” injury that wasn’t deemed a long-term issue.
Roldan, whose 2022 calendar began with training for FIFA World Cup qualifier matches in January, was held out of the bulk of training this week in efforts to rest his body. He played 77 minutes in the Sunday loss to Real Salt Lake, the first MLS match since May where he didn’t go the full 90 minutes.
The formation was a retreat to 2021 when the club was without forward Jordan Morris (ACL) and Nico Lodeiro (knee) due to injuries. Utility midfielder Rowe replaced Roldan, and Morris played up top with Ruidiaz.
“It was a little too painful,” Schmetzer said of Roldan’s injury. “We’ll get further evaluation when we get back to Seattle, and we’ll try to make a good decision based on what the doctors and experts are telling us.”
The Sounders (10-13-3) continue play on the road Friday with a Cascadia derby against Portland at Providence Park.