The Sounders did what every other visitor to New York FC has done this season — lose.
NYFC blitzed Seattle in the second half to win 3-0 at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday. The club is on an MLS-best 12-game unbeaten streak, including a 4-0-4 showing at home.
“We had our hands full,” Sounders midfielder Alex Roldan said via audio provided by MLS. “Ultimately, they got the best of us.”
Maxi Moralez started the scoring for New York when credited with a goal in the 58th minute. The midfielder sent a right-footed shot toward that took a slight deflection off Sounders defender Jordy Delem’s foot into the goal. The score was Moralez’s fourth in his past three matches.
“That took some of the wind out of our sails,” Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said via audio provided by MLS.
New York (7-1-8) followed the play with a nice assist from forward Valentin Castellanos for midfielder Jesus Medina to punch in at the near post in the 77th minute. Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei and teammates wanted an offsides call, but the play wasn’t reviewed.
The Pigeons finished their scoring in the 87th minute with a goal from midfielder Ebenezer Ofori off an assist from Alexander Ring.
Seattle’s best scoring opportunity came in the 67th minute off a free kick from Victor Rodriguez. But his attempt was poked over the crossbar by NYFC goalkeeper Brad Stuver.
The match ended with the ball in Stuver’s hands as he caught another Rodriguez free-kick attempt that was headed toward the goal.
Seattle was limited to 37.7% ball possession but had four shots on-target – all Stuver saves.
“We weren’t able to do what we tried to accomplish at halftime, which was to extend our possessions in their half of the field,” Schmetzer said via audio provided by MLS. “Our transition moments were good in the first half. I wanted us to get a little bit more possession (and) it just didn’t turn out.”
Seattle (8-5-5) started a young lineup due to injuries and international call-ups. The starters included new signee Justin Dhillon, who made his second career MLS start after leading the Tacoma Defiance in goals scored this season.
The Sounders played strong in the opening half, taking a clean sheet into halftime, but the same energy wasn’t found after the break. Wednesday is the club’s fifth loss in its past six matches — including a matchup against Portland in U.S. Open Cup play during the MLS break.
Uruguayan midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro joined the Sounders in New York but wasn’t available to play Wednesday. He is expected to return to the starting lineup for Seattle’s game in Columbus on Saturday.
“I can look at it now and say it (rotation) didn’t work; it worked in the first 45 minutes,” said Schmetzer via audio provided by MLS. “Nico had flown 15 hours on a plane, the risk of injury there was too great. We decided to go with what we did, and I accept the responsibility of my decisions.”
Lodeiro hasn’t played for the Sounders since May due to helping his national team reach the quarterfinals of the Copa America held in Brazil. He has a Sounders-leading eight assists, which ranks fourth in MLS this season.
Ecuadorian defender Xavier Arreaga returned to the starting lineup. His national team lost in Copa America group play. He joined Nouhou and Saad Abdul-Salaam in a new-look back five with Kim Kee-hee and Frei.
“(NYFC) created their own luck in the second half,” said Frei via audio provided by MLS. “There was a lucky bounce and the second one was a guy completely shanking it and it goes straight to (his teammate). But those goals count the same way….If you’re playing in your opponent’s (penalty box) for the most part and you’re pushing and pushing, chances are you’re going to find your luck there and something good comes out of it.”
NOTE: Midfielder Handwalla Bwana didn’t make the trip to New York due to a family issue in Seattle. Schmetzer said more information would be provided later.