The inclination is to worry about the Sounders FC being without their top goal-scorer in Raul Ruidiaz.
But if the next thought isn’t wondering whether Jordan Morris is still available then you’re feeling like Real Salt Lake on Wednesday night — baffled.
From the opening seconds, Morris made sure the Sounders’ offensive attack was just as lethal as when the forward starts with Ruidiaz. Morris’ goal in the first minute was nullified due to being offside. The same wouldn’t happen in the 28th minute when he scored off a smooth passing series to propel the Sounders a 2-1 win at CenturyLink Field.
“The game was a little harder than it should’ve been,” Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said during a teleconference with media.
Seattle (9-3-3) is atop Major League Soccer’s Western Conference standings and has won five of its past six matches.
RSL’s lone score was off an own goal from Sounders left back Nouhou in the 68th minute. Otherwise the visitors had zero shots on target.
“It’s always difficult because Nouhou is the one that carries that own goal,” Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei said during a teleconference with media. “But I think that’s a collective error. Thankfully it didn’t matter too much. Seems like I can’t buy a shutout these days.”
Sounders midfielder Nico Lodeiro tapped the ball to Cristian Roldan to initiate Morris’ impressive scoring series.
Roldan dribbled it forward to send a cross into the box. Forward Will Bruin played decoy, letting the ball roll through his legs, Morris tapping it in the net with a slight stretch of his right leg. Morris has eight goals and seven assists this season.
Lodeiro had another precision pass lead to a goal in the 61st minute, this time off a free kick. Sounders center back Yeimar Gomez Andrade charged toward the long assist to knock in the ball with a header.
Andrade and Lodeiro jogged to the corner of the field and mimicked playing the card game Uno as a coordinated goal celebration. With his second assist of the match, Lodeiro bumped his career total to 56 since signing with Seattle in 2016.
It’s Andrade’s second goal of the season — both off headers. The Colombian was signed by the Sounders in January.
“I’m always happy to be able to support the team and if I score a goal, it’s even better,” Andrade said as translated from Spanish during a teleconference call with media. “But my main role is to play defense and be sure I’m playing that well. Today we had a well-rounded game by actually getting the win.”
Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer altered his starting lineup due to three first-choice starters being called up for international competitions. Bruin started in place of Ruidiaz, who’s competing with Peru’s national team in World Cup qualifier matches.
Sounders center back Xavier Arreaga is with Ecuador’s national team for World Cup qualifier matches and was replaced in the lineup by Shane O’Neill. Jordy Delem started for Gustav Svensson, who’s suiting up for Sweden’s national team in UEFA Nations League games.
Ruidiaz, Arreaga, and Svensson are expected to miss five MLS matches due to the call-up and mandatory 10-day quarantine upon returning to the Sounders as part of safeguarding from the spread of COVID-19.
RSL (4-6-6) played its second match in four days so it also made multiple changes to its starting lineup. Offensive attacker Damir Kreilach was rested while midfielder Albert Rusnak was called up by his Slovakian national team, forcing RSL to start a defensive lineup.
“They were going to try to steal the game,” Schmetzer said. “Our ball possession. Our defending schemes, all the work was pretty good tonight.”
NOTE: Sounders center back Roman Torres substituted into the match in the 86th minute. Torres was part of the 2019 MLS Cup squad and was reacquired in September via trade with Inter Miami CF.