SEATTLE (AP)The disappointment of a quick exit from the FIFA Club World Cup didn’t linger into the start of the MLS season for the Seattle Sounders.
Jordan Morris scored a pair of goals via header, Cristian Roldan also scored on a header and the Sounders overwhelmed the Colorado Rapids in a dominating 4-0 win Sunday night in the season opener for both teams.
”You guys saw tonight what the team is capable of,” Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer said. ”I thought it was great. I thought it was awesome. I thought the guys were sharp and that they were mentally into the game. Starting at 3:30 p.m. when they walked in the locker room, everybody was real focused. And so they answered my questions.”
Roldan scored in the 25th minute by finishing off a chance that started with a cross by Morris. In the final moments of the first half, Morris got his first of the season with a diving header after an initial pass by Nicolas Lodeiro was bundled in front of goal.
New striker Heber scored in his Seattle debut early in the second half, and Morris scored his second in the 83rd minute after a corner kick pinballed around the penalty area.
It was the first multi-goal game for Morris since Aug. 30, 2020, against LAFC.
”I think we had to get fit quicker than some of the other teams with obviously the Club World Cup, so I think that helped us,” Morris said. ”But we’ve been working on things that we showed on the field today for a long time, and to see it in action and to see it work like that was just a testament to all the hard work that everyone’s put in during the during the preseason.”
Seattle’s convincing opening victory was a strong statement after the Sounders missed the MLS playoffs for the first time in franchise history last season. The Sounders finished 11th in the Western Conference last year, one spot behind the equally disappointing Rapids, who tumbled to 10th after winning the Western Conference regular-season title in 2021.
Seattle’s MLS debut for 2023 came less than a month after the Sounders had a disappointingly brief appearance at the Club World Cup. The first team from MLS to participate in the event, the Sounders lost to Egyptian powerhouse Al Ahly 1-0 in the quarterfinal round and ended up playing only one match in Morocco.
But the time preparing for the Club World Cup appeared to pay off as Seattle was significantly sharper and more dangerous around goal against the Rapids.
”We didn’t like what happened last year. We didn’t like what happened in Morocco,” Schmetzer said. ”And we are now motivated to try and replicate this type of performance and replicate it a bunch of times throughout the early part of the season to see if we can’t make a strong run and get the season really started on a good note.”
Colorado’s best scoring chances came from promising 18-year-old striker Darren Yapi making his MLS debut. Yapi hit the crossbar from 18 yards out in the second minute and had another good chance at goal saved by Seattle’s Stefan Frei midway through the second half. But Colorado’s overhauled defense remained leaky. The Rapids gave up 57 goals last season and Seattle could have started the season with a few more if not for some key saves by goalkeeper William Yarbrough.
The opener also saw the MLS return for Seattle midfielder Joao Paulo after missing most of last season with a torn ACL in his right knee. Paulo played 80 minutes.
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