Seattle headed to Los Angeles wanting a statement MLS game.
Instead, the play of Sounders FC looked like a call for help.
Los Angeles FC capitalized on Seattle errors to win 4-1 before a nationally televised audience Sunday as the Sounders were down three starters due to injuries. It was the Sounders’ first defeat of the season. They also became the third and final undefeated MLS team to drop their first game of the season in the past week.
“I don’t think we played up to our normal standard,” Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said per audio provided by MLS. “We didn’t execute what we worked on during the week.”
LAFC scored its opening goal in the 12th minute as midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye found forward Carlos Vela in a one-on-one situation to boot a left-footed attempt into the net.
Midfielder Eduard Atuesta had a clear look at the goal as Sounders center back Roman Torres fell short of deflecting the ball, with Atuesta then easily scoring for LAFC in the 39th minute.
“Way too easy. Too many giveaways,” Schmetzer told the Fox Sports 1 telecast at halftime, alluding to midfielder Nico Lodeiro passing into LAFC’s coverage to help setup Atuesta’s goal.
Torres, who got a yellow card in the opening half, was one of three new pieces to the Sounders lineup. He replaced defender Chad Marshall, who has been managing nagging injuries after undergoing knee surgery in November and did not make the trip to Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, Raul Ruidiaz missed his third consecutive match due to a heel injury and backup forward Will Bruin did not make the trip due to a pulled hamstring. He suffered his injury after scoring two goals in a home victory against Toronto FC on April 13.
Schmetzer moved Jordan Morris up top and put midfielder Harry Shipp on the right wing. The latter scored Seattle’s lone goal in the 51st minute to close the Sounders to 2-1.
Any hope of overcoming the opening-half struggles were quickly buried by a Vela goal in the 55th minute. The MLS leader in goals has 10 in nine games.
“I thought I got us back in the game,” said Shipp per audio provided by MLS. “Giving up that third goal kinda killed us momentum-wise … For us, our whole game is going to be predicated on us completing passes, dictating tempo, imposing our style on them. For 75, 90 minutes, they dictated their style on us.”
LAFC’s final goal was from Christian Ramirez in the 61st minute. Seattle has yet to defeat LAFC since the club joined the league in 2018.
“We gave away three goals that could have been avoided and that’s what hurts the most,” Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan said via audio provided by MLS, noting Vela’s opening goal was well defended. “It’s always going to be tough coming to L.A. and trying to get a result. In the end, you take it to the chin and move on.”
Seattle (5-1-1) was the final undefeated team in the MLS standings after LAFC (Wednesday) and Houston (Friday) suffered their first defeats of the season last week. The longest unbeaten streaks to start a season in MLS history is 12 games by Real Salt Lake in 2014 at 6-0-6 and the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2010 at 10-0-2.
Sunday was LAFC’s second match in five days while Seattle is slated to play three games in an eight-day span. LAFC (7-1-1) will face Seattle again Sunday at CenturyLink Field.
“We’re going to prepare for San Jose,” Schmetzer said of the Sounders’ home game against the Earthquakes on Wednesday. “In case you haven’t noticed, San Jose has put together some good performances. If we even think about looking past San Jose, that would be a mistake.”