BRADENTON, Florida – As the Sounders FC inches toward their first match of the 2012 season, elements keep appearing of the team that led MLS in scoring in 2011 and finished second in the chase for the Supporters’ Shield.
On Wednesday at the IMG Academy, they stumbled out of the blocks, but took control against the Columbus Crew and got goals from Fredy Montero and Cordell Cato to lift them to a 2-0 victory in a 120-minute match that featured two 45-minute periods and one 30-minute period.
“It is a good feeling,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “We needed to get more people in midfield so we could build up better because they were dropping off. Once we started doing that I thought we got a hold of the game. We started to create some things.”
Columbus was the aggressor in the early minutes of the match, but the Sounders withstood their pressure and turned the tide late in the first period.
After 25 minutes, though, Seattle was able to start to mount an attack. A header by Brad Evans in the 30th minute off a Montero free kick marked the first shot of the game for the Sounders as the remaining 45 minutes for the starting group looked much more like the type of game the club hopes to play in 2012.
Once the Sounders were able to regroup at the intermission, they came out strong in the second period.
However, it was Columbus who would have the first chance of the period, as Ethan Finley ripped a shot from 20 yards out, forcing Michael Gspurning into a leap to parry the bar over the crossbar for the save in the 51st minute.
The Sounders bounced right back though and Montero missed just wide with a left-footed shot in the 53rd minute before finally getting on the board in the 54th.
Mauro Rosales and Adam Johansson combined up the right side before Johansson found Montero with a cross into the six-yard box and Montero smashed it home with a header for a 1-0 Seattle lead – their first lead of the preseason.
That lineup, made mostly of returning starters, remained in control until they were all subbed out in the 75th minute, as both teams underwent wholesale changes.
In the final period, Christian Sivebæk and Babayele Sodade proved to be forces up front, with Sodade providing a strong, rangy target on several balls played forward and Sivebæk winding his way around and past defenders to set up goal-scoring opportunities.
Sivebæk had a few scoring chances of his own before he assisted on Cato’s goal in the 114th minute. Sivebæk got to the endline up the left side, drawing the goalkeeper toward him as he moved toward the goal before popping it past the keeper to Cato for a running header in front of the net for a 2-0 lead.
“It’s good to see the new guys involved. Johansson gets an assist. Sivebaek really made that goal for Cordell with a good move, a little scoop pass and Cordell got in there,” Schmid said. “I think the fans will see that those guys give us a dimension, obviously with their pace and their speed and their athleticism from that standpoint and that’s going to be a nice addition to our squad.”
The game was marked by three red cards, obscuring the planned dispersal of playing time in a few spots. Jhon Kennedy Hurtado got two yellow cards in the first 13 minutes for an ejection and later Amadou Sanyang was shown red just seven minutes after entering the match.
Columbus midfielder Bernardo Anor was show a red card as well in the 60th minute, in addition to an earlier yellow card. All told, there were seven yellow cards.
Goalkeeper Michael Gspurning played 90 minutes and Bryan Meredith played the final 30 to combine for the clean sheet as Seattle moved to 1-0-2 in preseason.
They will face the US U17 National Team on Thursday at 7 am Pacific (10 am Eastern). Follow the live blog on SoundersFC.com.
Sounders FC – Fredy Montero (Adam Johansson, Mauro Rosales) 54; Cordell Cato (Christian Sivebæk) 114.
Crew – None.
Sounders FC – Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (caution) 10; Osvaldo Alonso (caution) 12; Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (caution) 13; Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (ejection) 13; Leo Gonzalez (caution) 68; Amadou Sanyang (ejection) 82.
Crew – Bernardo Anor (caution) 29; Tony Tchani (caution) 38; Bernardo Anor (ejection) 60; Tom Heinemann (caution) 118.
Sounders FC – Michael Gspurning (Bryan Meredith 91), Adam Johansson (Amadou Sanyang 75, Lamar Neagle 84), Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (Patrick Ianni 20, Zach Scott 75), Jeff Parke (Andrew Duran 75), Leo Gonzalez (Marc Burch 75), Mauro Rosales (Roger Levesque 75), Osvaldo Alonso (Andy Rose 75), Brad Evans (Mike Seamon 75), Alvaro Fernandez (Cordell Cato 75), Fredy Montero (Babayele Sodade 75), Mike Fucito (David Estrada 62, Christian Sivebæk 94).
Crew – Andy Gruenebaum (Matt Lampson 75), Sebastian Miranda (Aubrey Perry 75), Chad Marshall (Eric Gehrig 75), Carlos Mendes (Josh Williams 75), Lance Laing (Korey Veeder 75), Ethan Finley (Justin Meram 75), Milovan Mirosevic (Kirk Urso 75), Tony Tchani (Cole Grossman 75), Bernardo Anor (Shaun Francis 63), Olman Vargas (Tom Heinemann 75), Emilio Renteria (Aaron Horton 75).