MLS Cup Playoffs Round One in Seattle vs LAFC

  • Duplicate post of ProstAmerika article as is normal practice for when covering Sounders FC

Seattle Sounders FC 3
Los Angeles Football Club 1
MLS Cup Playoffs – Round One
Lumen Field – Seattle, WA
November 24, 2020

The first round of the 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs was completed Tuesday night in Seattle when the host Sounders FC took on LAFC. The first round matchup was a rematch of the 2019 conference final, won by Seattle. The 2020 single elimination format playoffs adding another layer of intensity.

Seattle entered the match as reasonably full strength as can be for this time of the season. There was a pandemic positive this week announced for an unknown player, but they were to field a pretty full strength starting eleven.

LAFC was missing several players due to four known positive tests, but had Carlos Vela in the line up after returning from injury just a few short weeks ago. It was a cold and rainy November night in Seattle at kickoff and as the match progressed the weather remained dreary.

Early on, the tone of the match was set. Seattle’s pressure and commitment to staying high was met with LAFC patience and a willingness to absorb and counter. The home side pressed for an early goal, but was thwarted in early attempts.

An 18th minute goal rewarded Seattle for all the possession. A Jordan Morris lay off set MVP candidate Nicolas Lodeiro up for a shielded left footed drive. Seattle looked to be in the driver’s seat early. This was clearly the Seattle plan, get on the front foot and try to stay there. Said Lodeiro, “Mentally we prepare really well for these kinds of games. We feel very comfortable at home and need to play an attacking game.”

A few minutes later, LAFC got the opportunity to bring the match quickly level with a penalty on defender Nouhou. Vela, however, struck the ball directly into Stefan Frei’s arms. The momentum swings back and forth with the goal, penalty, and miss would essentially reset the match to the earlier pattern of play. The score line would remain unchanged going into the interval as both sides continued the pattern of the early minutes with Seattle maintaining much of the possession and LA playing to counter.

LAFC adjusted coming out of the interval, creating early second half chances and putting pressure on Seattle to hold their lead. The Seattle defense was on its heels and was lucky to avoid some cards and even a sending off. After absorbing so much pressure, a chance to go up two was missed wide right by Morris. Seattle turned up the pressure, creating chances, but a crossbar and Lodeiro shot wide left kept the single goal margin in place. A tight match in the final half hour was on the plate.

Raul Ruidiaz changed the match dynamic in the 66th minute, striking the second goal for Seattle and finally giving the home side some breathing room. His MLS playoff strike rate remaining at more than a goal per playoff match in his time in the Northwest.

Jordan Morris had missed a chance to extend the lead, but that would not be an isolated chance. He said, “Especially in the second half, the game opened up. They’re so dangerous on the counter. Matching that intensity was super improvement. Everyone was working so hard defensively. They left some holes open that we were able to exploit.”

Eduard Atuesta managed to split the lead in half in the 77th minute, getting on the end of a cross and beating Frei. Even down several starters, the LAFC quality was still present and the goal reflected that. But, Seattle did not flinch, grabbing an almost immediate response as Jordan Morris got through on a Ruidiaz through pass to bring the lead back to two with ten minutes to go.

LAFC kept making it interesting. An 88th minute header by Mark-Anthony Kaye went under VAR review and was waved off, negating an even more interesting final moments. The 3-1 final score held up through the five minutes of stoppage time and Seattle eliminated LA for the second season running.

Seattle now hosts FC Dallas on Tuesday December 1st at 6:30 PST.

Afterwards, Jordan Morris noted, “We definitely had a good game plan. Really, when we’re at home we need to be on the front foot and be the dominant team. Schmetz does a great job of getting us ready.”


SEA – Nicolás Lodeiro (Jordan Morris, Raúl Ruidíaz) 18’
SEA – Raúl Ruidíaz 66’
LAFC – Eduard Atuesta (Carlos Vela) 77’
SEA – Jordan Morris (Raúl Ruidíaz, Nicolás Lodeiro) 80’

SEA – Nicolás Lodeiro (caution) 88’
LAFC – Mohamed El-Munir (caution) 90’+2’

Seattle Sounders FC – Stefan Frei; Alex Roldan, Yeimar Gómez Andrade, Shane O’Neill, Nouhou (Román Torres 90’+1’); Cristian Roldan, João Paulo, Joevin Jones (Brad Smith 70’), Nicolás Lodeiro, Jordan Morris (Jordy Delem 90’); Raúl Ruidíaz – Substitutes not used: Stefan Cleveland, Miguel Ibarra, Josh Atencio, Ethan Dobbelaere, Will Bruin, Jimmy Medranda

Total shots: 13 (Morris, 4)
Shots on goal: 3 (Three players, 1)
Fouls: 18 (Three players, 3)
Offside: 2 (Morris/Ruidíaz, 1)
Corner-kicks: 4 (Lodeiro, 4)
Saves: 3 (Frei, 3)

Los Angeles FC – Pablo Sisniega; Eddie Segura, Jesus David Murillo, Tristan Blackmon, Jordan Harvey (Mohamed El-Munir 56’); Latif Blessing, Eduard Atuesta, Mark-Anthony Kaye; Carlos Vela, Bradley Wright-Phillips (Kwadwo Opoku HT), Christian Torres (Adrien Perez 56’) – Substitutes not used: Kenneth Vermeer, Dejan Jakovic, Antonio Leone, Erik Duenas, Bryce Duke, Francisco Ginella

Total shots: 12 (Vela, 4)
Shots on goal: 4 (Vela, 2)
Fouls: 14 (Kaye, 3)
Offside: 2 (Kaye/Wright-Phillips, 1)
Corner-kicks: 8 (Vela, 6)
Saves: 0

“One Life” by Megan Rapinoe book review

One Life

by Megan Rapinoe

Megan Rapinoe has been a member of OL Reign since it began as Seattle Reign FC in 2013. I have been covering the club (& other things) for ProstAmerika and @GoalieGuys for the past several seasons. Megan makes herself available to the media in very generous amounts, sometimes clearly wiped out from matches. She answers questions, pretty directly, and seems to love just talking about the game. Her public profile sometimes means the questions are not directly about the game, which is why we have a big publishing house having her write this book. Megan Rapinoe is an interesting person, a person who is more than willing to take on difficult topics and take personal stances that make it tough for her to only get questions about the game.

Over the seasons I have covered her as a player I have managed to get some interesting nuggets from her about the game. She is always shooting, she says, so when some of the audacious moves she attempts look like they could be a cross or a shot, assume shot. It is precisely that risk taking that makes her valuable to club and country, as she has the skill and tactical awareness of knowing when to try something and when not.

I was first really aware of Rapinoe’s soccer IQ as I watched her stoppage time cross to Abby Wambach in the 2011 World Cup quarterfinals over and over. She received the ball with a lot of space, had very little time, would only really get a single chance at it, and launched a long diagonal cross to the far post that had no margin for error. The ball was perfect.

When the Reign lost in the 2015 NWSL Championship she went before the media, and I watched a clearly exhausted player studying the stat sheet set up at the table as we were waiting to start the presser. That loss stung. It was a good team, a really good team, and they have not got back to the final since. But, she got up there and answered the questions to represent her club.

After winning the 2019 world cup, Rapinoe returned to her club and maybe played more than she was supposed to. She put forth a fantastic match against arch-rival Portland Thorns FC, nearly scoring on a chip that hit the crossbar. Demands on her time meant there was almost no turnaround and she was headed off to Milan to represent the USWNT and be named 2019 FIFA Women’s Player of the Year, sharing the stage with men’s winner Leo Messi.

As a high profile LGBTQ athlete, her personal relationships have been in the public eye. Her willingness to take on social justice issues put her squarely in the sights of those who would vilify her. She has held her ground, spoken at length and with knowledge of topics, and become sought after as an interview subject. Despite international tugs on her time, she has been willing to make certain the local soccer media is also given time, even when it would be excusable to pass.

The book is Megan telling the story of how she got to this point in time, where people might be interested in her writing a book to tell her story. She is self aware of the status she has as a successful athlete, LGBTQ icon, and activist. It is clear that she knows she could choose things to be different, but that she is simply not interested in an easy and safe path of avoiding controversy. Her upbringing as a queer youth in a conservative town that eventually found herself is one so many people can relate to. This is an important story.

The seasons I have been covering the Reign covers much of the content of this book. There have been opportunities to discuss issues related to her injury recovery, national team play, and activism. Talking with her after the first match in Seattle after kneeling was powerful. Opposition team members in the NWSL were her national team teammates and they were very much also available to discuss the profound impact the protests were having.

She has taken abuse for her stances. She is also an example of strength and resilience. When some of her employers were more understanding than others, she kept to her path. The book addresses some very hard subjects head on, just like Megan to do.

As noted, a few years ago after a match I asked Megan if a ball that drifted over the cross bar was a shot or a cross. She laughed and told me, “I am always shooting.” This book is proof of that.

photos by Jeff Lageson