SEATTLE - It was a bit of déjà vu Thursday night at Qwest Field.
The Sounders FC opened the season on national television in front of a sellout crowd and score in the 12th minute to take a 1-0 lead and get goals from Brad Evans and Fredy Montero in a shutout victory.
It happened in 2009 in a 3-0 win over the New York Red Bulls and all of those dominoes fell again in 2010. Evans scored in the 12th minute, Montero added an incredible goal in the 43rd minute and Kasey Keller had four saves to pick up the clean sheet in a 2-0 Sounders FC win over the Philadelphia Union to kickoff the Major League Soccer season.
“Hopefully we start something this year like we did last year. It’s important that we jump with three points and put the pressure on a bit early,” Evans said. “I don’t think it was as smooth as last year or as connected, but it’s always good to have three points.”
36,241 sprung to their feet at Qwest Field, as the largest crowd to attend an MLS game for the Sounders saw Seattle stand up to a physical Philadelphia side and come out with a convincing victory.
Union defender Danny Califf showed Philadelphia’s hand early, drawing a yellow card for an off-the-ball foul when he knocked Montero to the ground in the first minute of the match. They continued that physical tact for the entirety of the game, even after Toni Stahl picked up his second yellow card and was ejected in the 41st minute.
“We know guys are going to take us physical. I don’t think it caught us off guard,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “We were able to deal with the physical nature of the game and still come up with a couple of goals and not give anything away in the back.”
Evans got the Sounders off to a strong start when he scored his first goal of the season in the 12th minute. Montero slotted a ball up the left side to Steve Zakuani, who took the ball to the endline before cutting it back to Evans coming hard to the near post. Evans then blasted a shot to the far post for the goal and the 1-0 lead.
Montero added to his already solid night with what he described as the best goal of his career.
Union goalkeeper Chris Seitz came to the middle of the box to knock away a Freddie Ljungberg corner kick, but the ball landed at the feet of Osvaldo Alonso. The Sounders FC midfielder pounded the ball back toward the far post where Montero dove to get his head on it and knock it into the open corner for a 2-0 lead, just evading a collision with the upright.
“It was one of the toughest goals to score in my entire professional career. The only option that I had was to stick the ball into that small space,” Montero said. “Aside from that it was a fast ball that bounced right in front of me, but luckily it went in.”
The Sounders FC held a distinct advantage in shots (12-9) and held possession for most of the remainder of the game to seal the win.
“The good news for us is I think we can play a lot better soccer than we did tonight. At times it was not our best soccer but sometimes you have to win some games where you don’t play your best soccer,” Schmid said.
The Sounders will host the New York Red Bulls Saturday, April 3 in their next game.
Sounders FC - Kasey Keller, Zach Scott, Tyrone Marshall, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez, Roger Levesque, Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso, Steve Zakuani (Mike Fucito 76), Freddie Ljungberg (Sanna Nyassi 60), Fredy Montero.
Union - Chris Seitz, Jordan Harvey, Danny Califf, Toni Stahl, David Myrie (Jack McInerney 78), Andrew Jacobson, Danny Mwanga (Stefani Miglioranzi 46), Roger Torres (Amobi Okugo 71), Michael Orozco, Sebastien Le Toux, Alejandro Moreno.
Sounders FC - Brad Evans (Steve Zakuani, Fredy Montero) 12; Fredy Montero (Osvaldo Alonso) 43.
Union - None