Three Points Closer
By MATT GASCHK
Sounders FC Insider
SEATTLE - A look at the last 11 matches for the Sounders FC has shown that there are several different ways to win a match.
Saturday afternoon at Qwest Field, they showed a new way to win as they topped Toronto FC 3-2 to win their third straight and eighth in their last 11 matches.
Toronto scored first, but then two goals in five minutes gave Seattle the lead. They added another in the second half before allowing a late Toronto goal to move to 42 points on the season, equaling the win total from their inaugural season with their 12th victory.
“We're really proud of the way we came back after they scored the first goal,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “I was really happy with how we came back, to go up 2-1 at halftime. Once we were up 3-1, we wanted to make sure the fans stayed involved and stayed interested, so we decided to make it 3-2 there at the very end.”
Steve Zakuani netted his ninth goal of the season, Blaise Nkufo notched his fifth in the last three matches and Sanna Nyassi scored his first MLS goal to power the Sounders to the win.
However, it was Toronto that got out first.
Dwayne De Rosario added to his team-leading total with his 13th goal of the season in the 16th minute. He darted up the left side to take a pass from Maicon Santos and shot it high past Jeff Parke and Kasey Keller for the 1-0 lead.
On the play, Parke dislocated a finger on his left hand, requiring medical attention on the field. Parke would return with a heavily taped finger moments later and remained strong in his center back roll, even picking up his first assist on the season moments later.
Parke passed from the right side to Osvaldo Alonso in the middle. Alonso then threads a ball between four Toronto FC players to find Zakuani in behind the defense. The second-year winger dribbled around goalkeeper Stefan Frei and touched it into the net for the equalizer in the 21st minute.
Seattle stayed on the attack and after James Riley was fouled against the sideline, giving the Sounders a free kick from 35 yards out against the sideline. Nathan Sturgis whipped the ball in and Nkufo soared above the defense and smashed a header past Frei to give Seattle the 2-1 lead in the 26th minute.
“It was important that we score before halftime and we got two,” Zakuani said. “Once you do that, we are at home, we had the momentum and the game became a bit easier.”
The Sounders held that lead until halftime, then added to it early in the second half.
Zakuani carried up the left side and crossed a ball to the middle of the box. Adrian Cann attempted to clear the ball, but it fell right to Nyassi for a left-footed blast that found the top corner for his first career MLS goal in the 59th minute.
He jumped into the arms of Nkufo and was quickly swarmed by his exuberant teammates.
“So happy, so happy. At halftime, I told him, ‘You're going to get one,’ because he should've had about nine in the first half,” Zakuani said. “He was playing very well and he’s in the right positions. It was a great finish with his left foot. Fantastic. Very, very happy for him.”
Added Schmid, “I told him in the locker room I'm not going to wait two years for the next one. He’s got to keep going, he’s got to continue to get some goals.”
Chad Barrett added his seventh goal of the year to narrow the margin to 3-2, but Seattle held on for the closing minutes to earn their third straight win.
“It was important to get a win because right now things are tight for us, and we need to make the playoffs for sure,” Nyassi said. “If we make sure that we win all the remaining games we'll get there.”
Toronto drops to 8-12-7 on the season while Seattle moves within striking distance of clinching a playoff berth. That could come next Saturday when they face the Kansas City Wizards at Community America Ballpark.
First, though, the Sounders host the US Open Cup final against the Columbus Crew. Kickoff on Tuesday night is 7 pm at Qwest Field as the Sounders FC looks to become the first club to repeat as Open Cup champions since the New York Pancyprian Freedoms accomplished the feat in 1983.
Sounders FC - Steve Zakuani (Osvaldo Alonso, Jeff Parke) 21; Blaise Nkufo (Nathan Sturgis) 26; Sanna Nyassi 59.
Toronto FC - Dwayne De Rosario (Maicon Santos) 16; Chad Barrett (Nicholas Lindsay, O’Brian White) 88.
Sounders FC - Kasey Keller, James Riley, Jeff Parke, Patrick Ianni, Leo Gonzalez, Sanna Nyassi (Alvaro Fernandez 68), Osvaldo Alonso, Nathan Sturgis, Steve Zakuani, Fredy Montero, Blaise Nkufo (Nate Jaqua 77).
Toronto FC - Stefan Frei, Dan Gargan, Adrian Cann, Nana Attakora (Nick Garcia 45), Ty Harden, Dwayne De Rosario, Julian de Guzman, Nick LaBrocca (O’Brian White 80), Jacob Peterson (Nicholas Lindsay 61), Maicon Santos, Chad Barrett.