The press box didn’t shake at CenturyLink Field on Sunday. That tends to happen when the famed crowds get particularly boisterous.
But had the circumstances been different, you get the feeling it would have. In their first game in Seattle in more than five months, the Sounders were just that good.
“The game plan was to play a little more aggressive, pressing at the right moments, I think we were somewhat successful there,” Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said. “Any time you score three against LAFC, it’s good.”
The Sounders scored the opening three goals in their 3-1 win over LAFC, avenging a loss to the same team last month. Raul Ruidiaz, the hero in the Sounders’ semifinal victory over LAFC in last year’s playoffs, scored in the 11th minute while Jordan Morris added two within seconds of each other at the beginning of the second half.
The club improved to 4-1-2 on the year and sits alone in second place in the Western Conference. Would a roaring crowd have made the win more satisfying? Sure.
But the victory against last year’s Supporters’ Shield winner is fulfilling no matter how it comes.
“Of course we miss our fans. They give us such a spark. I think we definitely have the best fans in the world, and it’s so much fun to play in this stadium,” Morris said. “I think everybody was definitely missing the fans. It was still nice to be playing a home game.”
The game started with one of the Sounders’ best players continuing his hot streak. When Ruidiaz booted a left-footer over the head of LAFC goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer, he scored his fourth goal in his last three games played.
True, Vermeer was out of position — way out of position — but the Peruvian recognized it and executed the score.
Scorching as Ruidiaz has been lately, though, it was really Morris’ night. Three minutes into the second half, the forward beat the defense, received a pass from Nico Lodeiro then whizzed by Vermeer before putting it in the empty net. A minute later, he took a pass from Joao Paulo and scored his second goal of the match.
That’s likely when the crowd would have been at its loudest, as the match seemed secure at that point. Schmetzer’s reaction to Morris’ night?
Get used to it.
“These are the kinds of games that can be routine for Jordan,” Schmetzer said. “He can do this every game.”
The win comes seven days after the Sounders thrashed their rival Timbers in Portland, 3-0. Their performances in Orlando were erratic, but they seem to have found their footing since leaving the bubble.
Particularly striking was the contrast in their play from the last time they took on LAFC. Sure, their opponent made some mistakes, but this was peak execution on the Sounders’ end. Schmetzer said this game was easier to coach compared with that 4-1 loss last month. He thought the players took great pride in trying to rectify what went wrong last time, and that the need to improve was emphasized in the locker room.
That was apparent on the field.
Still, it just wasn’t quite the same without the fans in attendance. Yes, there was signage on the Brougham End, where the Emerald City Supporters typically spend 90 minutes singing and chanting. Yes, there was crowd noise pumped into the stadium. But one of the league’s loudest crowds wasn’t there. And, unfortunately, that’s just how it’s going to be.
“It feels very weird not being able to have our supporters in the stadium,” Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan said. “It’s something we have to get used to.
In their first game back in nearly six months, the Sounders didn’t appear to give away their home-field advantage. They weren’t able to entertain their die-hards in person, but for anyone watching, they still gave a great show.