May 26, 2018; Seattle, WA, USA; Real Salt Lake defender Marcelo Silva (30) goes up for a header against Seattle Sounders FC defender Chad Marshall (14) during the first half at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports
The Seattle Sounders lost at home for the third time in 2018 Saturday, dropping a match 1-0 against Real Salt Lake. A goal just past the hour mark from RSL’s Sebastian Saucedo was enough to see the visitors take all three points as Seattle failed to execute offensively.
Here are three takeaways from the afternoon.
Bwana foot injury
18-year-old Handwalla Bwana looked like the brightest spot on the pitch for the Sounders in the first half hour of the match. The homegrown player had made a number of moves that stretched the Real Salt Lake back line, but Bwana subbed off in the 33rd minute after what appeared to be an awkward step while running through a challenge from RSL’s Jefferson Savarino.
Schmetzer said Bwana had a foot injury after the match.
“It’s a foot injury,” Schmetzer said. “I don’t have an update for you guys, and I thought it made a big impact on the game. I thought the kid was playing well. I thought he was dangerous. He was breaking people down. That hurt us.”
Shorthanded roster forces Schmetzer’s hand
Reduced to 16 healthy outfield players before the match began, Schmetzer was short on options when it came time to utilize his three substitutes. Bwana was replaced by Waylon Francis, an outside back by trade who instead stayed in the space above Sounders left back Nouhou.
Right back Jordan McCrary entered in the 67th minute for Nouhou and slotted in at right back, allowing Kelvin Leerdam to push higher up the field.
Asked about using two of his three subs on outside backs, Schmetzer pointed to the thinness of his roster when trying to introduce attacking players.
“I wanted a true lefty to stay out wide and take people on, get down to the end line,” Schmetzer said. “You saw Waylon did put in that one good cross in the second half, maybe not enough actions down that side of the field… And then on the other side, we knew we were going to bring in Lamar [Neagle] at some point. Choices on the bench were a little slim. Jordan McCrary came on and did a good job down in Portland. [He] gave us a burst of energy, good energy, and pushing Kelvin [Leerdam] up a line certainly puts him in a spot where he can certainly cross a ball. I think he’s one of our best crossers of the ball. So that was the thinking behind it.”
Seattle shut out again
For the seventh time in 10 league matches, the Sounders failed to score. The club completed 180 minutes of soccer without scoring at home, dating back to its 0-0 draw against the Columbus Crew May 5.
For midfielder Cristian Roldan, the club will need to alter the way it is playing to start converting its chances.
“I think keeping possession is one way (to create more offensively),” Roldan said. “Another way is once we get it on the counterattack, play it forward, all teams in the world score goals off breaks. That’s the reality of things. You’ll score more goals on breaks than if you have 30 passes in a row and then score a goal.”
For goalkeeper Stefan Frei, on the other hand, he thinks the club will need to take care of the little things before a breakthrough can occur.
“We have some time off now, you know, recovery days,” Frei said. “Those are important. What you do off the field right now, mentally, to get right. Get your recovery, whatever you need. If you need to go ice baths, you need to make sure physically you’re good to go. Or mentally. That’s what I was saying, little details. It’s not just about following orders on the training pitch. It’s about nutrition, hydration, doing the extra little things. Because right now, there’s no room for error to say, ‘I wish I had done this differently or that differently.’ I think everybody needs to take it upon themselves do whatever they can to make sure that they’re right, and to help the team get out of this funk.”