Seattle Sounders 3, New York Red Bulls 1
Seattle Starting XI:
Stefan Frei; Oniel Fisher, Gustav Svensson, Chad Marshall, Joevin Jones; Osvaldo Alonso, Cristian Roldan; Nicolas Lodeiro, Clint Dempsey, Harry Shipp; Jordan Morris.
Alvaro Fernandez for Fisher in the 65th (injury-related, see below), Will Bruin for Morris in the 81st, and Henry Wingo for Dempsey in the 91st.
The Sounders opened the scoring in the 28th minute after Jordan Morris earned a penalty kick. The 2016 Rookie of the Year ran for a loose ball inside New York's box and got tackled hard by keeper Luis Robles, who received a yellow card on the play. A minute later, Clint Dempsey scored the penalty, marking Seattle's first home goal of 2017.
"I was just kind of hoping it would be a bad pass, and it wasn't the best, so I just tried to read it and luckily I got there in time," Morris said.
Red Bulls star forward Bradley Wright-Phillips, who led Major League Soccer (MLS) in goals in 2016, equalized in the 57th minute by positioning himself in front of Gustav Svensson and heading a Sal Zizzo cross past Stefan Frei.
Seattle took over in the final thirty minutes. Midfielder Alvaro Fernandez replaced injured defender Oniel Fisher, adding another offensive weapon.
"At home we want to play more attacking soccer and I felt that Cristian [Roldan] could do the job, which he did, defensively...but also gave us some more attacking movements from a right back position," Head Coach Brian Schmetzer said. "That was a decision we made on the bench just to make sure that we continued to press and push the tempo."
Seconds after the substitution, Joevin Jones, Nicolas Lodeiro and Morris connected to put Seattle in front.
"I was just kind of lurking around the back post, hoping the ball would come in. Nico put in a perfect ball and didn't leave me with much to do, so credit to them," Morris said.
According to Schmetzer, Harry Shipp did not take credit for Seattle's final goal, however, his redirection of a Joevin Jones shot in the 79th minute put Robles out of position on the wrong side of the goal as the ball rolled into the left corner of the net.
"I'm not going to say it's the best goal I've ever scored, hopefully ever," Shipp said, laughing. "Sometimes you make your own luck. I've been, especially last year, unlucky in goals and getting on the scorers sheet, so it's kind of karma for putting in a good performance."
Jordan Morris appeared to tweak an ankle in the second half, however, he dismissed any concerns that it would affect his availability for the United States Men's National Team later this week.
Oniel Fisher suffered a left hamstring injury that forced him out of the match in the 65th minute. Schmetzer said the club will assess the situation, "cover and make do."
Top Three Takeaways:
1. The fullback combination of Jones on the left and Fisher on the right created problems for New York midfielders and defenders for 65 minutes. With the duos of Shipp and Jones working up the left and Lodeiro and Fisher doing the same on the right, the Sounders' flexibility to attack with speed on both sides of the field will create headaches for opposing coaches, if all four are healthy.
"I've developed a chemistry with [Jones]," Shipp said. "If I'm playing outside mid, I like to be inside and he's going to be the one that creates width, and for me, that's perfect...I always know he's going to be there."
"For a player like me, it's very important to have a player like Fisher with me because I need somebody to help me on attacking," Lodeiro said through an interpreter.
2. Shipp's chemistry with Morris, Dempsey and Lodeiro in the attacking third has developed quickly after just three games. After the victory, Shipp talked about the fluidity of Seattle's attack with multiple scoring threats creating tactical problems for opposing defenses. Specifically, Shipp noted plays where Morris or Will Bruin get behind the defense and create "space in front of the back four, which is where guys like me like to operate."
3. Gustav Svensson, playing centerback in place of the suspended Roman Torres, appeared more comfortable as part of Seattle's back four. Apart for Wright-Phillips gaining position and beating Svensson for a goal in the second half, the new Sounders defender played well, according to Schmetzer.
"The most impressive thing for me on the defensive side with Gustav was a couple one-on-one duels where he was going up against faster players and he was actually able to win those duels," Schmetzer said.
Watch Schmetzer's full post-match press conference and hear from Lodeiro, Shipp and Morris below!