Nouhou stumbles, Roldan brothers impress in Sounders’ draw

Apr 16, 2018, 10:37 AM
Will Bruin and the Sounders played Sporting Kansas City to a 2-2 draw. (AP)...
Will Bruin and the Sounders played Sporting Kansas City to a 2-2 draw. (AP)

The Sounders’ season officially started Sunday in Kansas City as the team, down several men due to injury and suspensions, played as a strong, cohesive unit – offensively, at least.

Defensively? They stumbled, with one huge error costing the Sounders their first win of the MLS season.

Recap: Sounders draw with Sporting KC | Photo gallery

The Sounders were up 2-1 when Nouhou was caught upfield after a missed shot on goal. Rather than rush to get back into position, he took his time, almost like he was trying to catch his breath. Sporting KC midfielder Graham Zusi took advantage and ended up in front of goalkeeper Stefan Frei, one on one, and was able to equalize.

The Sounders ended the game with a draw at 2-2. No one was pleased.

“I’m not happy,” head coach Brian Schmetzer said. “We should have won the game. But that’s how MLS is. You’ve got to credit Zusi for making a play at the end there. I thought that we put enough into the game that we could have come out with the full three points.”

Nouhou had an awful game. He was a liability for the Sounders. But we should resist the urge to overreact.

“Nouhou is extremely talented and will be fine,” Sounders alum Steve Zakuani tweeted. “It’s a part of a long season, peaks and valleys etc. He will be fine. Anyone overreacting doesn’t understand football. It’s one game.”

Zakuani is right. Nouhou is a young player and he will make mistakes. That’s to be expected. The problem was you had a lot of young players out there this weekend, which made his mistakes even worse. He’ll develop.

Speaking of younger players, rookie Alex Roldan earned his first start for the Sounders. Alongside his brother, Cristian Roldan, they were the seventh brother pairing to start an MLS game.

“It was a great feeling to be on the same pitch as my brother, but that being said, once the game starts, my head’s in the game and I’m concentrated to hopefully get three points out of it,” Alex Roldan said.

Alex shined as a menace, pulling Sporting’s attention to him. He played with confidence. He earned an assist in his combination play with Will Bruin, who, under pressure, calmly connected with Cristian for one heck of a goal. Not many balls get passed Sporting GK Tim Melia. This goal was beautiful.

“The build-up was good,” Schmetzer said after the game. “(Alex) got one of the assists. That was good. That’s a good storyline. They went out there and played pretty well. Cristian had a good strike. Tim Melia is a very good goalkeeper and to get one past him, that’s saying something.”

For the first time this season, the Sounders played with confidence, and you could see the relief when Bruin scored the season’s first goal. You can tell they feel some momentum, which is just what they need going into their next game, at home, against Minnesota.

Reasons for Hope: Ozzie Alonso returned to the 18 and saw impactful minutes in the second half. He’s the soul of this team and brings experience and leadership to the pitch. When he’s 90 minutes fit, the Sounders can be unstoppable. Kelvin Leerdam and Clint Dempsey are due to return from suspension.

Reasons to Worry: Nouhou’s learning curve should be accelerated if he expects to start with consistency. He can only learn on the job for so long. Will Dempsey come back with a chip on his shoulder that can easily be exploited by Minnesota? They could target him and force him into a reaction that will earn him another red card.

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