SEATTLE – As dress rehearsals go, the Sounders FC got all they wanted from their final preseason tune up on Wednesday with a 2-0 victory over Jaguares de Chiapas in the Community Shield match at CenturyLink Field.
In front of a crowd of 11,140 fans who donated a total of over $36,500 to the club’s five community partners, Seattle got a pair of goals from Fredy Montero and a clean sheet from Michael Gspurning to cap off an unbeaten preseason.
“I think tonight was very good,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “Overall, it was a good test in the way they try and build out of the back very similar to Santos, so it gave us some exposure to that. Now it’s a more realistic discussion when I talk to the team about it as to how we’re going to defend that.”
After a scoreless first half, Montero got the Sounders out to an early second-half lead with a header off a ball from newcomer Adam Johansson.
Jeff Parke led Johansson up the right side and Johansson sprung the ball from the corner. Montero charged in across the front of the goal and met the ball at the top of the six-yard box, nodding it inside the far post and past the diving keeper for the goal in the 61st minute.
With two defenders picking up assists on the play, the goal embodied the work the Sounders have done to include the back line in their possession this preseason.
“Well, that’s why we’re working. That’s why we’re in the preseason, trying to connect all those pieces together and go into the field and make that play,” Montero said. “It was a really good cross.”
In a game that saw the Sounders outshoot their opponents 14-7, Montero led all Sounders with five shots and made his effort in the 73rd minute count, taking a pass from Osvaldo Alonso and chipping it into the top left corner.
Mauro Rosales worked the ball up the pitch, then rolled it to Alonso, who pushed it forward to Montero at the top of the box for the beautifully placed shot and his fifth goal of the preseason.
“We got two, I thought, rather quality goals in the second half and I thought we had a couple of chances to get some more,” Schmid said.
The Sounders used the match to get the team in rhythm and prepare them for the style they will face against Santos Laguna in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals next week. The first leg will be at CenturyLink Field on March 7, with the return leg March 14 in Torreon, Mexico.
Though he was hesitant to tout preseason results, Schmid was very pleased with how Seattle arrived at their 5-0-2 preseason record.
“Preseason is preseason,” Schmid said. “What I put more value on is the quality of play. I think our quality of play is pretty good. Our sharpness at times was off but what we were trying to do were good things. The way we’re trying to play, the connecting of the ball, I think you saw today, our defenders were more involved. They don’t have to all go forward but you saw how we knocked the ball around the back better than we did last year. The way we’re playing is good. From that standpoint the preseason has been good. We’re playing the way I want us to play.”
The match was the third edition of the Community Shield. Proceeds from the donations benefit the five community partners, America SCORES Seattle, Boys and Girls Clubs of King County and Bellevue, Special Olympics Washington, Washington Global Health and Washington Youth Soccer.
Sounders FC – Fredy Montero (Adam Johansson, Jeff Parke) 61; Montero (Osvaldo Alonso, Mauro Rosales) 73.
Jaguares – None.
Sounders FC – Leo Gonzalez (caution) 76.
Jaguares – Ismael Fuentes (caution) 73.
Sounders FC – Michael Gspurning, Adam Johansson, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez, Mauro Rosales (Roger Levesque 85), Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Alvaro Fernandez (Christian Sivebæk 66), Fredy Montero, David Estrada (Sammy Ochoa 76).
Jaguares – Edgar Hernandez (Israel Villasenor 74), George Carral, Miguel Martinez (Omar Flores 80), Ismael Fuentes, Luis Esqueda (Jesus Castillo 88), Jorge Rodriguez (Yasser Corona 80), Luis Noriega (Armando Zamorano 68), Gerardo Espinoza (Jorge Hernandez 59), Edgar Andrade (Hibert Ruiz 74), Luis Gabriel Ray, Franco Arizala.