Official Seattle Sounders Reporter

By Ashley Savage // @savage_hart

On an unseasonably sunny Sunday in Seattle, the reigning champions of Major League Soccer kicked off their 2020 season with a 2-1 victory over the rebranded Chicago Fire.

Prior to kickoff, the MLS Cup banner was uncovered to the joy of fans and players alike. Seeing the new gold star sported by players and fans was inspiring and exciting. Remembering and acknowledging the fantastic run the Sounders displayed to win the 2019 MLS Cup was a fantastic way to kickoff the 2020 season.

After dropping a 2-0 lead twice in CCL in the previous weeks and being the first MLS team out of the tournament, the Sounders started an improvised XI to kick off MLS play. Yemir Gomez Andrade had been dealing with visa issues so Shane O’Neill started at center back alongside Xavier Arreaga. Jordan Morris was surprisingly left on the bench for what was later referred to as “rest”, which head coach Brian Schmetzer described in the post conference as “frustrating news” for the striker. Nicholas Lodeiro and Gustav Svensson were again out of the 18 due to injury and Joevin Jones replaced Nouhou at left back. Sixteen-year-old Danny Leyva and Miguel Ibarra both made their debuts in the starting XI and were active and impactful throughout the match.

After a scoreless first half, Chicago’s Robert Beric slotted home the first goal of the game just moments after kickoff. VAR reared it’s head in the 56th minute after Cristian Roldan scored what looked to be the equalizer off a left-footed cross courtesy of Jordan Morris.

The BFF connection occurred again in the 62nd minute when Roldan found Jordan Morris at the top of the 6-yard box to slot home the Sounders’ opening goal of the 2020 season and tie the game 1-1.

After multiple substitutions and continued pressure from the Sounders, the Hometown Hero found the back of the net again for the game winner in the 93rd minute. Cristian Roldan flicked in a header from Joao Paulo’s corner-kick that found Jordan Morris unmarked on the back post.

Takeaways

Jordan Morris Still Scores Goals

Jordan Morris picked up right where he left off after his Comeback Player of the Year season. Subbed on in the 45th minute, Morris came out firing on all cylinders. After strong showings in both CCL matches, it was a surprise to many to see Morris not make the XI. But his insertion into the game completely changed the Sounders’ offensive shape and tactics, much to the joy of Sounders fans.

Joao Paulo Was Probably A Good Signing

With captain Nicolas Lodeiro still dealing with hamstring tendinitis, new DP signing Joao Paulo has been playing in the number 10 position for the Rave Green and he’s been playing the role quite well. In his first 3 games, including 2 in preseason, Paulo has 2 goals and an assist and shows promising signs of chemistry with both Morris and Roldan. His immediate impact has been both unexpected and incredibly welcome as Sounders fans were reeling when the team announced Lodeiro’s preseason injury.

The Depth Is Real

With preseason injuries to several starters and heavy rotation from CCL games, the Sounders were able to put their CCL exit behind them and grab a solid 3-points from Opening Day. The signings of MLS veterans Shane O’Neill and Miguel Ibarra and also re-signings of Alex Roldan and Harry Shipp have made for a great deal of bench depth for the Rave Green. Adding Yemir Gomez Andrade to pair at center back with Xavier Arreaga and bringing in Joao Paulo to round out the midfield was an impressive offseason haul for GM Garth Lagerway. While the preseason talk was very focused on CCL goals, this depth indicates that the Sounders could put out an even stronger side than last season.

The Seattle Sounders will next host former favorite rival Caleb Porter and the Columbus Crew on Saturday, March 7th at 7 PM at CenturyLink Field.

Featured and other images: @jillmpeck on Instagram

Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @savage_hart

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