Twice in two years the Seattle Sounders and Los Angeles FC have met in the MLS playoffs. Twice the Seattle Sounders have emerged with a 3-1 victory.
The Sounders rode goals from Nicolas Lodeiro, Raul Ruidiaz, and Jordan Morris to a relatively comfortable win over a shorthanded LAFC side at Lumen Field on Tuesday night. With the victory, the Sounders advance to the Western Conference semifinals, where they will host FC Dallas on Tuesday.
COVID-19 cost LAFC four key players: Diego Rossi, Brian Rodriguez, Jose Cifuentes, and Diego Palacios. For their part, the Sounders lost starting center back Xavier Arreaga to COVID protocols.
Lodeiro opened the scoring in the 18th minute, stepping into a laid-off ball from Morris and sending a first-touch shot past goalkeeper Pablo Sisniega for the 1-0 lead.
That lead looked likely to be short-lived: referee Kevin Stott awarded the visitors a penalty just 90 seconds later after Sounders left back Nouhou clumsily brought down Carlos Vela inside the 18-yard box. Vela, however, sent a softly-taken shot directly to goalkeeper Stefan Frei.
Both teams saw their share of chances to open the second half. Morris and Lodeiro hit the post within five minutes of each other near the hour-mark before Ruidiaz doubled the lead in the 66th minute. The Peruvian Designated Player stepped into a deflected corner kick and sent a first-timed laser past Sisniega for the 2-0 lead.
The visitors pulled one back in the 77th minute, when Eduard Atuesta latched onto a long cross from Carlos Vela and beat Frei at the far post to cut the lead in half.
The goal gave the visitors a glimmer of hope, but Morris shut the door just three minutes later, slotting past Sisniega with a left-footed shot that capped a blistering counterattack and gave the Sounders a 3-1 lead.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Jordan Morris. You can make a compelling argument for Lodeiro or Ruidiaz as well. But Morris gave a performance that really showcased his development over the last year, demonstrating patience and poise in the box on his opening assist, and decisively burying a left-footed shot on his goal.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
Carlos Vela’s penalty kick failure cost the visitors a chance to equalize early on, allowing Seattle to keep control.
MATCH TO FORGET
Carlos Vela. He delivered a beautiful assist in the second half, but stars are paid to shine under the brightest lights and biggest moments. Vela not only failed to challenge Frei on his penalty kick, but also sailed a close-range header over the crossbar minutes later. The visitors could have easily held a 2-1 lead at the 20-minute mark.