Brian Schmetzer: LAFC were a measuring stick and Sounders failed in Round of 16

Seattle Sounders head coach Brian Schemtzer cut right to the chase after his team's 4-1 loss against LAFC in the MLS is Back Tournament Round of 16.

They failed as a team, Schemtzer said, and were perhaps out of sorts mentally and tactically.

“Maybe we got them too wound up. I’ll have to reflect on the messaging we had prior to the game,” Schmetzer said. “But it certainly was not our intent to allow LAFC to just walk the ball up into our half of the field and put us under pressure defensively. 

“And then offensively when we did get the ball into their half of the field on some transition moments, we just didn’t keep the ball. We were playing rushed, even to try and score goals. You couple that with the bad giveaways and we gave them some goals. You’re never going to beat a team as good as LAFC or any team in MLS if you play like that.”

The Sounders surely did their part to contribute to the four LAFC goals. There were two crucial mistakes from Sounders center back Xavier Arreaga, and Latif Blessing’s strike that made it 2-0 took a wicked deflection off Sounders defender Shane O’Neill

Seattle came within a goal on a 75th-minute strike from Will Bruin who was making his first appearance after 13 months of rehabilitation from a torn ACL. He also had the chance to equalize at 2-2 but his shot missed the target from close range. However, outside of those flashes, this match was all LAFC. 

“Look, they’re emotional guys and they wanted to go and perform well,” Schmetzer said of his team. “It was a measuring stick for us. So, we failed tonight and I’ll reflect on the job that we did. It’s my job as coach to give the players the right tools to be successful, whether that’s through verbal instruction, whether that’s through training on the field. We’ll obviously go over everything we did to make sure we get them in a good headspace mentally and also physically ready to play.”

There was plenty of anticipation in the buildup to this matchup between defending Supporters' Shield holders (LAFC) and defending MLS Cup champions (Seattle). It was also a rematch of last year’s intense Western Conference Final, which Seattle won 3-1 at Banc of California Stadium. 

Whatever the reason, Schmetzer said the Sounders didn’t perform to their standards in the Round of 16 match. Beating an LAFC team that has now scored 15 goals in the tournament was always going to be a difficult task, but now they return to the Pacific Northwest awaiting a possible continuation of the 2020 regular season.

“I think [LAFC] have a clear way of how they want to play and how they want to force turnovers and how they want to get their goals,” Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei said. “We just weren’t able to adjust and figure out what the weaknesses are of their style of play, and made some errors defensively and offensively. Obviously, four goals is a lot and all of them [were] pretty crappy. You’re not going to win games like that.

Continued Frei: "We’ll have to go home, regroup and search for a bit more of an identity on our own part -- how we want to combat strong teams like we faced tonight so that we’re ready for the next game."