TUKWILA — Looking back is part of the process of improving for the Sounders FC, so what happened in Las Vegas on Wednesday didn’t stay there.
Seattle reviewed film of the 3-2 loss to Club Leon for the Leagues Cup title before on-field training Friday. The Sounders dropped a 1-0 second-half lead in their first international championship-game appearance.
“That was a short video,” Sounders midfielder Nico Benezet said of the team session at Starfire Sports in Tukwila. “Coach (Brian Schmetzer) showed us so many chances that we got in the game and after that he said, what’s the plan for the Kansas City game? So, that’s what we did for the Final and we have to be better.”
Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan had the opening goal in the 48th minute. He also had a nice dish to forward Raul Ruidiaz in the box that the latter beamed off the post in the 56th minute — nullifying a chance to push the lead to 2-0.
Leon snatched control of the match from there. La Fiera’s ensuing three goals looked to be the result of individual errors by the Sounders.
The defensive line was out of position for the first goal. Seattle defender Shane O’Neill had a rookie mistake that resulted in a penalty kick for the second goal. And Sounders keeper Stefan Frei blocked an attempt but fell backside, unable to secure the ball to prevent a rebound shot for the final goal.
But Schmetzer, after reviewing film with his staff, presented a different view to his players.
“Each one of those goals was a team failure at different parts of the buildup of that particular goal,” Schmetzer said. “You can’t just lay it all on Xavi (Arreaga). You can’t just lay it all on Shane. You can’t just lay it all on Jimmy Medranda or Shane covering because Xavi stepped forward. Or there was a give-and-go on that first goal at midfield that a guy should’ve done better at. Alex (Roldan), maybe he slides a block across. Those are team goals.”
Here are three other take-aways from the session:
There were two overriding positives from the match. One being the Sounders sticking to their creed of never quitting, even when down 3-1 before a rowdy crowd at Allegiant Stadium.
Benezet substituted into the match in the 83rd minute for O’Neill with the Sounders down 2-1. Teammate Will Bruin, who subbed in at the 77th minute mark, received a long ball from Yeimar Gomez Andrade to feed to Benezet for the Sounders’ second goal of the match in stoppage time.
Moments before the final whistle, Ruidiaz created a chance for the equalizer.
According to Schmetzer, the team’s character also showed up before the match when, unprompted, the players discussed starting flat in the MLS Cup loss to the Columbus Crew last December. Against Club Leon, the Sounders outshot the Liga MX side 4-2 in the opening half.
“I wasn’t going to touch upon Columbus and the last time we were in a Final and our slow start,” Schmetzer said. “Their message resonated among themselves because we came out and we played very well against a very talented team.”
Benezet said the players were appreciative to have Thursday off to get past being “pissed off” at the Final loss. They were visibly upbeat on the field Friday afternoon in preparing to return to MLS play with a road match against Sporting Kansas City on Sunday.
Schmetzer was candid in how the team made the transition and learning from its mistakes.
“Watching some of the film was not easy because of the emotional drain of being this close from winning that game,” he said. “A couple of key moments could’ve changed the game.
“It was hard for them to watch. But they’re not afraid of that because they understand that’s how they learn. That’s how you learn as an individual. … I’m very proud of the team for having that type of mentality to push us through. Yeah, we’ve experienced something that other teams haven’t this year. We’ve lost a big game. Now is the time to push through that and use that experience to be better so that when the playoffs roll around, maybe we’ve learned a couple of things from the Leon game.”
Speaking of O’Neill
O’Neill earned the start against Leon, not because of any lingering injury to Nouhou, according to Schmetzer.
Nouhou was impressive to open the MLS season, playing a new left-side center back role and earning his first All-Star nod. He suffered an adductor injury while with his Cameroon national team in June. He’s made two starts since his return in August, including playing 90 minutes in the 1-0 loss at Real Salt Lake last week.
Schmetzer expects Nouhou to be available for selection against Kansas City.