Their first training session of the season after a defeat provided the Sounders little time to dissect what went wrong Sunday in Los Angeles.
In fact, the coaching staff skipped the usual postgame video-room breakdown with players and instead chose to focus on highlights of Wednesday night’s upcoming CenturyLink Field opponent, the San Jose Earthquakes. Players were nonetheless emailed the usual personalized video clips postmatch of their performances in Sunday’s 4-1 loss to Los Angeles FC and were likely a little more incentivized to pay attention to some of what didn’t work.
“You look at film a little bit deeper when you lose because there are obviously a ton of errors on our side, on our part, things that we can get better on,’’ midfielder Cristian Roldan said. “When we win, you kind of lose sight of what we can get better at because we’re gaining three points and because we won the game.’’
From Roldan’s perspective, he felt the midfielders couldn’t get enough pressure on opponents and LAFC was constantly able to slip an extra player in behind them. The result was a lot of breakout passes that made their opponents appear unstoppable on attack at times.
Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer felt his players made LAFC look a little too good. Schmetzer conceded an opening strike by Carlos Vela in the 12th minute, taking a perfect pass that split defenders Kim Kee-hee and Brad Smith and firing a rocket that beat goalkeeper Stefan Frei to his right, was a “really good, good goal” and tough to defend.
But the rest of the goals, Schmetzer added, were rather “soft” and something he feels the team can easily improve upon.
“We weren’t as sharp as we should have been playing building up to the turnovers and how they got into those positions,’’ he said. “We certainly could have played better.’’
A midfield turnover by Nicolas Lodeiro led to the second LAFC goal when Eduard Atuesta grabbed the ball and kept on going as Sounders players backed off him left and right. Roman Torres went down early for an attempted tackle just inside the box and Atuesta dribbled around him and blasted a shot to the identical spot Vela had scored on earlier.
The Sounders narrowed the lead in the second half, but then Atuesta forwarded a pass through some loose defending that found Vela in the box and he dribbled around Frei for the third goal. On the fourth marker, LAFC forward Christian Ramirez – who had 21 goals in 50 games his last two seasons in Minnesota – somehow had no defenders within 10 yards of him when he took a pass unguarded in the box and easily fired a shot home.
The Sounders had a built-in excuse of defender Chad Marshall being rested with knee issues – causing some potential communication problems on the back line – while forwards Raul Ruidiaz and Will Bruin were also out. But Schmetzer was having none of it.
“A lot of it’s communication, but look, the (loud) atmosphere at our stadium, the atmosphere down there at Banc of California, sometimes you can’t hear people – it’s awareness,’’ Schmetzer said. “You have to be aware of where their best players are on the field at all times. You cannot even lose him for a second or he’ll make you pay.’’
The Sounders got an eyeful of their individual shortcomings from team video analyst Tom Childs, who had the personalized footage of their performances waiting in their inboxes by the time they boarded the flight home. Schmetzer plans to go over the video on a team-wide basis before they host LAFC on Sunday, but for now he’s focused on the Earthquakes – who play a completely different style than LAFC — and hoping his players saw enough from Childs’ clips of last weekend’s game to know where to step it up.
“They have to do a little bit more self discovery, I would say, after that LAFC loss than in a normal week,’’ Schmetzer said.
The players can take some solace in the fact LAFC lost its first game at lowly Vancouver last week, meaning Sunday’s contest didn’t allow the conference front-runners to pull too far ahead. The Sounders should also have Marshall back for the San Jose contest, though Ruidiaz didn’t practice outdoors with the team Tuesday and looks doubtful as does Bruin.
Roldan said his side knows it must figure a few things out on short notice.
“Obviously, it’s tough to switch the lineup every other game,’’ he said. “We had a pretty consistent lineup the first four or five games and now with the forward situation and Jordan (Morris) slotting in, it makes things difficult…but this is footy for you. You need to prepare for the unexpected and try to deal with adversity.’’
That’s something the Sounders hadn’t really encountered up to now. And how they rebound off this initial loss could very well speak volumes about what’s to come down the road.
The Sounders will play host to German Bundesliga team Borussia Dortmund in a friendly at 7:30 p.m. July 17 at CenturyLink Field, team officials announced Tuesday. The game is Seattle’s second in team history against a German team, the other being a draw in 2017 against Eintracht Frankfurt.
“We’re excited to welcome a storied club like Borussia Dortmund to CenturyLink Field for the first time,” Sounders chief operating officer Bart Wiley said in a news release. “Bringing world class opponents to Seattle has been a tradition for Sounders FC going back to 2009, and we couldn’t be happier to once again host one of the biggest clubs in Europe. Before then, however, we will enjoy cheering them on as they fight for the Bundesliga title over the next few weeks.”
Dortmund has won the Bundesliga eight times in its history. The game will air on JOEtv in Seattle.