Sounders FC gets back on the winning track
By Matt Gaschk
Sounders FC Insider
Order has been restored to Qwest Field.
After two straight scoreless defeats, the Sounders FC are back on the winning side of the ledger after a 2-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes in front of a sellout crowd of 28,838.
Steve Zakuani scored near the end of the first half and Brad Evans doubled the lead to start the second half and Kasey Keller returned to the Sounders FC lineup and collected five saves to earn his fourth clean sheet.
“When you lose two games, you begin to address a little bit more what’s going wrong and what you haven’t done,” said Zakuani, who notched his second goal of the season. “We had a great week of training. We really addressed some issues and we came out tonight and put things right. We played how we were playing before and it paid off for us.”
San Jose opened the game on the offensive, but Seattle was able to hold them off and turned around to out-shoot the Earthquakes 7-4 in the first half. Their first good chance came in the 11th minute when Freddie Ljungberg found Fredy Montero for a blast from 15 yards out, but it was well over the net.
From that minute on, the Sounders had Earthquakes keeper Joe Cannon scrambling. Whether it was a ball from Zakuani on the left wing into the box or a rocket from Ljungberg, Seattle kept the pressure in the offensive end.
It finally paid off in the 42nd minute.
Ljungberg was pulled down by San Jose defender Nick Garcia just outside the box for a free kick. Montero ended up with the ball at the top of the box off of the free kick and he flicked it to Tyrone Marshall up the left side of the box. Marshall lifted the ball to Zakuani for a header inside the right post for the 1-0 lead.
Nate Jaqua nearly added to that lead before the halftime whistle, but Cannon snagged his header out of the air.
The Earthquakes started the second half with another flurry of offensive efforts. Shea Salinas fired off a shot from 18 yards out in the 47th minute and Ryan Johnson whipped in a ball that Keller slapped away in the 48th minute to keep the shutout alive.
That led to another runout from Jaqua in the 50th minute. He drew the San Jose defender and passed to Evans coming up on his right. Evans then slipped the ball past Cannon for his second goal of the year and a 2-0 lead.
“It was just a breakout. I didn’t even have to say anything, Nate just saw me and played a good ball,” Evans said. “I took a touch and I didn’t think (Cannon) was going to come out so fast. It was the only place to put it, so I was a little bit lucky again, but I’ll take it.”
In the 77th minute, Keller surpassed former New York keeper Ronald Wattereus for the all-time consecutive shutout minutes streak when he reached 376 minutes.
“I just like the fact that we’re winning home games. I think we’ve been solid defensively and it’s nice to have those little credits, but it’s not something for me, it’s something for the whole team,” Keller said. “I’ve been able to make some saves, but I’ve also had a little bit of luck when I’ve needed it. It’s a nice combination and hopefully it sticks around a little bit longer.”
Keller’s streak was interrupted when he drew a red-card ejection in the 29th minute at home against the Kansas City Wizards. He sat out the remainder of that game and served a one-game suspension against Chivas USA, both of which were losses for the Sounders.
The win improves the Sounders FC to 4-2-0 (12 points). They trail Chivas USA by one point for the Western Conference lead. Seattle takes on Real Salt Lake in a US Open Cup play-in game at Starfire on Tuesday and take to the road to face the Chicago Fire on Saturday. San Jose fell to 1-3-2 (5 points) with the loss.