Seattle Sounders clinical on counter in win, but still honing approach

MINNEAPOLIS – The party keeps on rolling for the Rave Green. 

The Seattle Sounders were able to leave their first trip to TCF Bank Stadium with a commanding 4-0 victory over Minnesota United on Saturday. Three of their four goals were scored on the counter, catching the Minnesota backline on their heels. However, this wasn’t exactly what Brian Schmetzer had in mind as he created his gameplan.

“We were trying to step high and press higher up the field to win possession,” the coach told the media after his side got the win. “Credit to Minnesota for pinning us back a little bit – that’s how it manifested itself. They made it awfully difficult for us. At 2-0, they found a renewed sense of energy and put us under pressure. Adrian [Heath, Minnesota's head coach] had his team prepared, and we had a little bit of quality there that pushed us through.”

A “little bit of quality” is certainly an understatement. The attacking quartet of Clint Dempsey, Jordan Morris, Will Bruin, and Nicolas Lodeiro were firing on all cylinders. Meanwhile, the back four kept their shape and neutralized a pacey Loons attack, relying on Stefan Frei for a few crucial saves.

“The shutout was the highlight,” Frei reflected. “It’s really good that we’re clicking up top and sharing the chances. We want guys to get confident up there – not just one, but a few. I thought the team played well. This field was very difficult to play on.”

Seattle wasted no time getting on the scoreboard, with Dempsey setting up Bruin for the opener. To Dempsey, playing with such a high-pressure system did well to beat Minnesota. However, he warned that it couldn’t always be so successful. 

“If we’re able to play through it, the game opens up for you,” the US international analyzed. 

“You just have to break that line of pressure that they bring. We had some good looks, but at the same time, we were a little too open.”

With an even marriage of potent attacking and steady defending, this may have been Seattle’s most complete performance to date. Schmetzer, however, wasn’t ready to say the team had completely figured out their best strategy.

“That’s a really good question,” Schmetzer said, taking a few seconds to reflect. “It’s still a work in progress. The stat that I love is duels won. Full time, we had 61.3 percent. I know that the enthusiasm, the desire is there. Sometimes, the soccer this season has been up and down, but they put it in every game and that’s what I’m most proud of.”

The Sounders certainly have had their ups and downs this year. Crucial come-from-behind results against D.C. United and the New England Revolution have shown the defending champions have resolve. While they’re still climbing up the Western Conference table, they still believe there’s work to be done.

“The team has a lot of character,” Dempsey affirmed. “You saw that in the D.C. game – we were 3-0 down and came back to get the win. First time that’s happened in a long time. This team has shown all season that we have character. We’ve gotta keep the lead, keep fighting. This run’s been good, and hopefully we can keep it going until we reach the top.”