SEATTLE – The Sounders FC made a statement on Sunday night at CenturyLink Field.
It wasn’t intended for the LA Galaxy or anyone else in the league, but they undoubtedly got the message loud and clear. The statement made by their 4-0 victory in front of 60,908 at CenturyLink Field and those watching nationally on ESPN2 was intended for the Sounders FC locker room.
“It’s just basically for ourselves - a statement for ourselves,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “It’s us knowing, ‘Hey, here’s what we can do. Here’s the commitment that we have. This is the potential that we can achieve and this is what we do as we continue to move forward.’ It’s about ourselves getting confidence in our ability to be able to take on big challenges, big games … and respond well to those challenges.”
The Sounders got goals from Eddie Johnson, Fredy Montero, Alex Caskey and Andy Rose while Michael Gspurning recorded his fourth shutout of the season, propelling the Sounders to their tenth win of the season and sole possession of third place in the Western Conference at 10-5-7.
Seattle asserted themselves as the aggressors from the opening kick, closing down LA playmakers David Beckham and Landon Donovan with a sense of urgency on each possession.
It helped that they got out to a 1-0 lead in the sixth minute.
Osvaldo Alonso rolled the ball out to Mauro Rosales up the right side and Rosales crossed the ball to Johnson in the box, leaving the Sounders forward to head it inside the far post for his team-leading tenth goal of the season.
The Sounders remained in control of the match throughout the first half, but couldn’t add to their lead until early in the second half.
In the 52nd minute, Caskey chased down a ball in the box, but his shot was blocked by LA goalkeeper Josh Saunders. However, the ball popped to Montero on the right side and Montero hit it off the half-volley and puts it just beyond Saunders’ reach and into the net for his sixth goal of the season and the 40th of his MLS career.
They would add insurance in the 61st minute as Johnson and Montero got out on the run. Montero cut to the right and Johnson dribbled to the middle, but the ball was clipped away by Saunders. With the net left open, the ball rolled out to Caskey and he put it over the head of Saunders and into the net for a 3-0 Sounders lead.
While the Galaxy continued to try to put pressure on the Seattle goal, the defense rose to the occasion, stopping each effort before it could even get to Gspurning, who had to make just two saves on the night.
“Obviously it was a lot of hard work and people covered for each other,” Schmid said. “I thought the guys fought in back and helped each other out and got across. I think we blocked some shots, Gspurning came up when he needed to on the crosses and things. I was pleased with that, but it was really a team effort and just defending well as a team and covering well for each other.”
Rose put the exclamation point on the match with his first career MLS goal in the 88th minute.
Marc Burch took a pass from Rosales up the left side and played it across to Rose charging up the right side. Rose hit it first-time into the back of the net and the Sounders held off the Galaxy the rest of the way for the 4-0 victory.
“It was important because it was a big game, it was national TV, a huge crowd,” Schmid said. “All those things made it an important game. What was important was our reaction to an important game, and it's six-point games when we're playing against the West that keeps us ahead of where we want to go.”
Next up for the Sounders is the US Open Cup final Wednesday night at Kansas City’s Livestrong Sporting Park. The Sounders are vying for an unprecedented fourth consecutive US Open Cup title.
Sounders FC – Eddie Johnson (Mauro Rosales, Osvaldo Alonso) 6; Fredy Montero 52; Alex Caskey 61; Andy Rose (Marc Burch, Mauro Rosales) 88.
Galaxy – None.
Sounders FC – Brad Evans (caution) 60.
Galaxy – AJ DeLaGarza (caution) 24.
Sounders FC – Michael Gspurning, Adam Johansson, Jeff Parke, Patrick Ianni, Leo Gonzalez, Mauro Rosales, Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans (Christian Tiffert 64), Alex Caskey (Marc Burch 81), Eddie Johnson, Fredy Montero (Andy Rose 73).
Galaxy – Josh Saunders, David Junior Lopes (Jose Villareal 80), Omar Gonzalez, AJ DeLaGarza, Bryan Gaul, Sean Franklin (Mike Magee 57), Marcelo Sarvas, Juninho (Hector Jimenez 70), David Beckham, Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan.