SEATTLE - The Sounders had plenty of motivation heading into their match Saturday night against DC United.
Coming off of a home defeat to Real Salt Lake one week earlier, Seattle was looking to reward their home crowd for supporting them to the tune of another sellout crowd that would push the Sounders past the single-season MLS record with their crowd of 36,242 pushing the season total to 553,987.
They also wanted to keep distance between themselves and RSL and FC Dallas coming up from behind them while keeping pace with the league-leading LA Galaxy.
On Friday morning, another bit of motivation was added with the passing of Erik Martin - a 14-year-old boy who one year earlier appeared at a training session as Electron Boy to save the Sounders players and coaches from Dr. Dark and Blackout Boy as part of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
“To win 3-0 on a day where we lost a very special person like ‘Electron Boy’ who – that whole thing he did with us with the Make-A-Wish Foundation was just tremendous,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “I know that was something that was on all the players’ minds and that helped them move forward into this game today.”
Mike Fucito scored his second goal of the season, while Alvaro Fernandez added a brace to take the team-lead in scoring while Kasey Keller posted his ninth shutout of the season and the Sounders improved to 14-6-9 on the season.
The Sounders controlled the bulk of the possession in the first half, but couldn’t muster much of an opportunity on goal until Fucito broke through in the 35th minute. Mauro Rosales passed up the right side and Fucito spun around DC defender Brandon McDonald to get into the box. He then rifled a shot inside the far post for his second goal of the season to give the Sounders the 1-0 lead.
Seattle continued to press and looked to add to their lead before going into the break for halftime. Fredy Montero got a chance in the box, but rolled his shot just outside the far post.
Just before the halftime whistle, though, Seattle capitalized on another Rosales assist. This time, he touched a ball through to Fernandez and the Uruguayan midfielder pulled goalkeeper Joe Willis off his line before shooting inside the far post for the 2-0 lead.
The Sounders would add an insurance goal in the second half, as Rosales crossed the ball for Montero at the far post. His header would be saved by Willis, but the rebound spilled right to Fernandez, who put it away for his eighth goal of the season.
“He scored two great goals. The ball from Mauro on the second goal was tremendous and Fredy did a good job getting on with the header at the back post and Flaco was there,” Schmid said. “At the end of the game, we were just trying to get him to sit and go nice and easy and he still wanted to continue to make runs forward, but it worked out. We were able to get 90 minutes out of him today and rest somebody else.”
Seattle held on for the shutout, but the night was hardly easy for Keller. In the 72nd minute, he parried away a shot from Joseph Ngwenya, who got free in the box up the right side, but couldn’t get it past the 41-year-old keeper. In the 81st minute, Keller ended any speculation as to how the match might end when Josh Wolff unloaded on a shot through traffic only to have Keller knock it away to keep DC off the board for one of his six saves on the night to post his 30th career MLS shutout.
“You know, the team – we always make Kasey earn his paycheck,” Schmid said.
The two assists gave Rosales 12 for the season, extending his single-season record. However, it would be a bittersweet night for the Sounders’ emerging MVP candidate, as a foul after the match had already been decided knocked Rosales out with a MCL sprain in his right knee. The extent of the injury isn’t expected to become clear until he could be further examined on Monday.
The Sounders will meet Herediano on Tuesday night in the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League before returning to MLS play on Saturday with their final match in the Cascadia Derby against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Sounders FC - Mike Fucito (Mauro Rosales, Brad Evans) 35; Alvaro Fernandez (Mauro Rosales, Fredy Montero) 47+; Alvaro Fernandez 60.
DC United - None.
Sounders FC - Tyson Wahl (caution) 41.
DC United - Joseph Ngwenya (caution) 16; Austin Da Luz (caution) 63.
Sounders FC - Kasey Keller, James Riley, Zach Scott, Jeff Parke, Tyson Wahl, Mauro Rosales, Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans (Amadou Sanyang 82), Alvaro Fernandez, Mike Fucito (Nate Jaqua 68), Fredy Montero (Lamar Neagle 78).
DC United - Joe Willis, Perry Kitchen, Brandon McDonald, Ethan White (Marc Burch 78), Daniel Woolard, Austin Da Luz, Andy Najar, Clyde Simms, Dwayne De Rosario (Josh Wolff 62), Charlie Davies (Stephen King 54), Joseph Ngwenya.