Los Angeles FC shocked many in MLS on Sunday, winning their first ever match 1-0 despite playing on the road to Seattle Sounders FC. The newcomers defended well against the back-to-back defending Western Conference champs and scored just 11 minutes in to take a lead they wouldn’t surrender. Seattle played a lineup without Clint Dempsey available and Chad Marshall on the bench as coach Brian Schmetzer looked to give some of his top players rest for their CONCACAF Champions League match versus Guadalajara on Wednesday.
LAFC started the game by pressuring Seattle on the ball and attacked the defence continuously. Diego Rossi terrorised the Sounder centre-halfs for the majority of the match by timing curved runs between them as passes were hit. His goal would come from a perfectly weighted ball from Carlos Vela as he got a step inside Jordy Delem before finishing a wonderful strike past Stefan Frei.
LAFC netted its first goal in franchise history, courtesy of Diego Rossi: pic.twitter.com/7tUdvrNUmE
— ESPN (@espn) March 4, 2018
Christian Roldan admitted after the match that, “historically we dont show up for the first 20 minutes… when something happens – they hit the post, they score a goal, they get a good chance – and then we start playing well.” Defensively Seattle was asleep on the Rossi goal as they were all a step slow in reacting to LAFC. In trying to pressure the ball, Seattle pulled themselves out of position to allow space for Rossi to get behind them and ultimately punish Seattle for it.
The Sounders did wake up after the goal, almost scoring just minutes later as Nouhou unleashed a shot to the far post but former Sounder Tyler Miller made a great save to push the shot wide. Miller would continue to frustrate Seattle as he made a number of crucial saves and was very confident defending corners. Seattle had 12 corners in the match including four in a row at one point but couldn’t break down the LA defence to draw level.
For all of the chances Seattle created in their 22 shots, they lacked the concentration to finish the opportunities. Schmetzer listed a number of different chances after the match saying, “there were a ton of chances created so I wouldn’t say that it’s from a lack of execution, I would say it’s from lack of that last piece of concentration to put the ball in the back of the net.” Will Bruin’s chance in the 56th minute showcased that lack of concentration as he skied a pass to him from just outside the six-yard box.
Even with a second choice lineup on the field, Seattle were still able to create lots of chances and control the match. While disappointing to lose to an expansion side at home in the season opener, there’s little reason for concern after just one match. Clearly Sounders came into the match with one eye on the midweek fixture against Chivas de Guadalajara and have prioritised that tournament for now. Seattle returns to play on Wednesday as they host Guadalajara before traveling to Mexico for the second leg a week later.