Sounders FC Fall to LAFC in Season Opener, Schmetzer Discusses Tactics and Debuts

Head coach Brian Schmetzer addressed the media in a post-match press conference, where he discussed the team's performance, tactical decisions, and debuting players.

Press Conference: Brian Schmetzer post-match at LAFC
Press Conference: Brian Schmetzer post-match at LAFC / Seattle Sounders FC

The Seattle Sounders FC kicked off their 2024 season with a disappointing 1-2 loss to LAFC on Saturday afternoon. LAFC took the lead in the last minute of the first half thanks to a precise goal by Tillman. Bogusz increased the lead with a spectacular shot in the 55th minute. The Sounders reduced the gap at the 73rd minute with a penalty kick scored by newcomer Pedro de la Vega.

Schmetzer acknowledged the need for improvement in attacking efficiency: "We need to be more lethal in our attacking movements and finish our chances," he stated. He highlighted the team's struggles in converting opportunities, which ultimately proved costly against a strong LAFC side.

Positives were found in the debutants: While the result wasn't ideal, Schmetzer expressed satisfaction with the performances of the new players Pedro de la Vega, Nathan, Musovski, and Andrew Thomas who made their MLS debuts in the match.

Schmetzer defended his decision to start a young midfield pairing: When questioned about his midfield selection, Schmetzer explained, "I was looking for consistent play from the two players and I was pleased with their effort." He emphasized his desire for stability and effort from his midfielders.

A tactical shift with the 4-4-2 formation: The use of a 4-4-2 formation, not frequently practiced during preseason, was a topic of discussion. Schmetzer explained, He praised Raul Ruidiaz's performance in his new position within the formation. "Raul did what I asked him to do", he said.

Acknowledging LAFC's threat on the counter: Schmetzer recognized the danger posed by LAFC's counter-attacks, stating, "LAFC is a team that likes to play fast breaks."

Cautious optimism for the season: While acknowledging the season's infancy, Schmetzer expressed his reservations about making judgments until Pedro is fully integrated into the squad. "It is still early in the season and I am waiting to see how Pedro fits into the team before making an evaluation," he remarked.

Injury updates and lineup expectations: Schmetzer provided an update on the injured players, expecting their return within two to three weeks. This suggests potential changes to the lineup as injured players become available.

Addressing decision-making in the final third: When asked about decision-making in the attacking zone, Schmetzer admitted, "There were times when the players took low-percentage shots instead of continuing the possession." He emphasized the importance of decision-making when creating scoring opportunities.

Schmetzer's expectations for Ruidiaz and Morris: The coach elaborated on his expectations for Raul Ruidiaz and Jordan Morris, stating, "I wanted Ruidiaz to help alleviate pressure in the midfield and then move up closer to goal in attack." This suggests a tactical approach aimed at utilizing Ruidiaz's versatility and Morris's attacking prowess.

Lessons learned and moving forward: Schmetzer remained focused on the long term, stating, "It is still early in the season."

Brief explanations for starting Nathan and defensive organization: Schmetzer clarified that his decision to start Nathan over Javi was based on positional considerations, and Javi's positive performance after coming on as a substitute was acknowledged. He also mentioned that the team is still working on their defensive organization and will analyze the game film to identify areas for improvement.

Positive take on Nathan's performance: Schmetzer praised Nathan's individual performance, attributing his substitution to cramping rather than a lack of quality. This suggests that Nathan has earned the coach's trust and could see more playing time in the future.

Sportsmanship displayed towards the refereeing: Schmetzer concluded by commending the referees, stating, "The referees did a fine job and they did not win or lose the game for us." This demonstrates his respect for the officiating crew and his focus on the team's own performance.

Overall, while the season opener did not yield the desired result, Schmetzer's press conference provided valuable insights into his tactical decisions, player evaluations, and expectations for the future.