SEATTLE – When his Seattle Sounders salvaged a tie against San Jose last Wednesday, coach Brian Schmetzer wasn’t shy about saying it felt like a loss. He had a far different feeling about another tie Sunday.
Jordan Morris scored for the Sounders in the first minute and Carlos Vela countered for Los Angeles FC three minutes later in a 1-1 draw.
The Sounders (5-1-3), who were routed 4-1 by LAFC last Sunday in California, played the final 72 minutes of regulation with 10 men after Cristian Roldan was sent off with a straight red card in the 18th minute. They also lost Kelvin Leerdam to a red card during second-half stoppage time after he tripped Diego Rossi on a breakaway just outside the penalty area.
“It’s pro sports there are no moral victories,” Schmetzer said. “But this is about as close as it gets. These type of matches are critical to have, and have players step up. When the chips are down and you’re under duress and the team has a performance like that, it makes me proud.”
Morris put the Sounders on the board with just 46 seconds elapsed. He intercepted a back pass from LAFC defender Eddie Segura, dribbled into the penalty area and fired a shot inside the left post for his team-leading fourth goal of the season.
It was the second-earliest goal in team history. The only one earlier was 23 seconds in by Clint Dempsey against San Jose on March 14, 2015.
League scoring leader Vela tied it three minutes later for Los Angeles (7-1-2). Jordan Harvey sent a long ball down the left side, and Diego Rossi caught up with it. He crossed it into the box, and goalkeeper Stefan Frei came out to play it at the near post. But it went beyond his reach, dropping onto Vela’s foot at the far post for an easy redirect for his 11th goal.
“We gave up an early goal and responded really well,” Los Angeles coach Bob Bradley said. “Then we have a long time to try to get another goal. It’s just a matter in those situations of can you be sharp, can you get the timing, can you really make a play? We kept trying. It was just a day when we couldn’t make a play when it mattered.”
In the 18th minute, Roldan and LAFC’s Mark-Anthony Kaye got into a shoving match near the midfield line. Eduard Atuesta ran in to intervene, and Roldan tried to push him off, but struck Atuesta across the face. Referee Ted Unkel, after a discussion with the sideline official, pulled out the red card, dismissing Roldan for violent conduct.
Roldan did not dispute the hand-to-the-face call. But he insisted that it was not his intent.
“I make a good tackle, the ball goes out of bounds. I’m rushed by Kaye and I get pushed, so I defend myself and push him back,” Roldan said. “I get pushed again by another guy (Atuesta) and my hands go up in the air – completely accidental. I’m not here to disagree (with the call). But to be honest, it was not deliberate. It was a huge game, and I never want to hurt my team in any way.”
LAFC dominated possession (73 to 27 percent), and outshot the Sounders, 21-4. They had a wide-open chance for a go-ahead goal in the 48th minute when Christian Ramirez was standing alone in front of the left post, just a yard in front of the net. But his shot off his right foot flew over the top.
Morris had an opportunity to net the winner for Seattle during second-half stoppage time. But with the ball loose just outside the 6-yard box and LAFC goalkeeper Tyler Miller on the other side, Morris was not able to gain control and shoot before it was knocked away.