Ordinarily, a road point against a tough in-conference opponent is considered a positive result for a visiting team in MLS.
And after his team's 2-2 draw against Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium on Wednesday, Seattle Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said he had no issues taking the point before heading back to Seattle. But at his postgame press conference, Schmetzer nonetheless lamented the sequence of events that saw his team relinquish a late 2-1 lead.
A go-ahead goal from Yeimar Gomez Andrade had Seattle just minutes from taking home their first win at Rio Tinto since 2011, until a late corner kick bounced to RSL's Pablo Ruiz, allowing the 21-year-old midfielder to rip home his first MLS goal in highlight-reel fashion. While the Sounders are still in good shape at second place in the Western Conference and are 2-0-1 since the MLS restart, Schmetzer said that type of late concession should never have happened.
"Should have been a game-winner," Schmetzer said of Gomez Andrade's goal after the match. "Never should have lost the [lead]. After that goal, we should have closed it out.
"Championship teams figure out ways how to close out games like that. The guys work way too hard on two days rest, the five guys that came in [to the starting lineup] played well, the guys that [subbed on] played well. The team has to understand that championship teams are able to close games out like that. It's two points dropped."
On the whole, though, Schmetzer said he thought his team played well in the match.
The Sounders got the draw on a day where they were playing with a rotated starting XI that didn't feature stalwarts such as Jordan Morris, Joao Paulo and Gustav Svensson, and they took the lead twice, first on a first-half penalty kick from Nicolas Lodeiro, before Gomez Andrade's thundering header in the 69th minute put them back on top after a Justen Glad equalizer.
Still, Schmetzer said he was frustrated to get that tantalizingly close to a rare win in at RioT and see it slip away. It's something the coach said he's hoping his team will learn from and compartmentalize for later in the season when the stakes are higher.
"We're 1-9-2 or something here at RSL," he said. "So, it's a difficult place to play. A lot of guys would be happy, I am happy that the team played well. We got a road point. We understand you win your home games and you get road points, that helps you in the standings. MLS is a hard, hard league. This is a hard place to play. Don't confuse my words that I'm not happy. I just need to understand and make them understand that these are moments where the team can close games and that's going to matter when it's later in the year in the playoffs and all of that."
From the RSL side, coach Freddy Juarez said he was ultimately pleased with how his team handled what turned into a tactical chess match.
The Sounders rolled out with a five-man backline, a look they've employed during away matches at RSL before and one Juarez said he thought his team might see. The match really took off in the second half, with both teams making in-game adjustments to counter the moves of the opposing coach. The end result was a frantic, adrenaline-fueled finish that culminated with Ruiz's late golazo.
"It's a credit to Brian and his staff," Juarez said. "They pulled this on us last year, so we were somewhat anticipating that they could potentially do it. But I think they pulled it this time and still had the their main pieces in there. They obviously brought in Jordan a little bit later, but they had Ruidiaz, they had Lodeiro, who didn't play against us last year. So it was a chess match. They came in and we were having possession, but because of their line of five, and what we do between the lines, it was almost just like a matchup.
"So we talked it over as a staff and decided to put [Giuseppe] Rossi in and go two forwards, see if we could occupy three of their forwards in the second half with two of our players and then adjust over that. And then they readjusted bringing in Morris. So, it was a good tactical game, I believe, if you're a fan of that type of stuff, you saw the reaction to what the other team was throwing at them and we get a tie result."