SEATTLE: There are many reasons why the Seattle Sounders have had problems getting results in recent months. But all those excuses were absent when they lined up against Atlanta United at home for a nationally televised match on Sunday. They went a long way to alleviate any unrest with a 2-1 victory over an opponent that was undoubtedly more convincing than the suggested result.
- The Sounders probably should have opened the scoring in the 22nd minute when Kim Kee-hee had an open look on the back post but sent his shot over the crossbar as it fell.
Cristian Roldan had the following good look from the Sounders to the opener when it opened on the left side and dribbled inside the box only for Brad Guzan to save his shot.
- Harry Shipp was the next player of the Sounders with a golden tip opportunity when Nicolas Lodeiro put him behind the Atlanta defense. The pass was a little behind Shipp, who also seemed to underestimate the time he had and his shot was blocked.
- The Sounders finished the first half with a 10-8 shot advantage, but they looked much better.
- For a brief moment, it seemed that all those missed opportunities would bite the Sounders again when Pity Martinez seemed to open the scoring in the 50th minute just to have it discarded out of play.
- All those opportunities finally arrived good in minute 58 after an absolute magic of Raul Ruidíaz. The striker controlled a pass from Roldan out of his chest, then doubled Miles Robinson with his second before. firing his shot about eight meters beyond Guzan.
- However, the advantage was short-lived. Josef Martinez was effectively left unchecked in a 65 minute header and hit him past Stefan Frei. That was Atlanta's second shot in the frame and the first one they had since Julian Gressel's 25-yard effort in the ninth minute.
- The Sounders did not take long to start generating opportunities again. Ruidíaz put a shot off the post in the 66th minute and Shipp had an opportunity from the penalty point that was saved in the 68th.
- The winner came in a beautiful work worked in the 71st minute. Jordan Morris started the sequence winning the ball on the offensive end and then pushed it towards Lodeiro. Lodeiro then put Morris in space along the right wing and Morris threw a pass to Shipp on the back post. This time, Shipp ended well, hitting a header again through Guzan's goal and on the net.
Great victory over a great club: Look, we all know that Atlanta United is not playing as well as a year ago when they put together one of the best regular seasons in MLS history (but they did not win the Supporters' Shield) and then followed with a Cup MLS. United has now won only 3 out of 9. However, the Sounders do not have a lot of convincing wins over their playoff-caliber opponents and, apart from the final score, this was as good as it has been throughout the year. Brad Guzan suggested that the Sounders should probably have scored a few more goals and this will end up as their best game for xG. With the closest thing to a completely healthy and rested team that they have had in months, this was the kind of performance the Sounders needed to deliver.
Redemp-SHIPP-tion: The player who probably ends up with most of the Sounders xG will almost certainly end up being Shipp, who stayed in very good places just for his final touch to elude him. The goal, however, was well taken and should not be treated as a kind of tap-in. The ball hung in the air long enough for Guzan to prepare and another defender had positioned himself to potentially make a stop at the goal line. But Shipp did well to hit his header off the turf and get the winner of the Sounders. Shipp has quietly been the best player of the Sounders in the last six weeks and deservedly will receive the applause in this.
Jordan Morris is an extreme: It is not very often that you can say that Morris played well in a game that did not have a single shot, but that is exactly what happened. Morris was credited with four opportunities created, including assistance for the winner of the game, a couple of tackles and, in general, he was only doing the things you want the wingers to do. When asked if it now feels like an extreme, Morris said he did. The comfort shows.
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