In Major League Soccer, the race to the first goal nearly always means victory.
In the 70 matches this season that haven’t ended in a scoreless draw, the team that scores first has a 53-9-8 record.
The Sounders FC accounts for four of those victories this season, but their success when scoring first isn’t limited to the 2012 season. They haven’t lost a game that saw them open scoring since October 23, 2010, a span of 18 games in which the Sounders have gone 14-0-3, including wins in the last 11 matches.
That first goal becomes even more important against the LA Galaxy, who lost 3-1 against Real Salt Lake in the season opener this year, but went 16-0-4 last year when scoring first. By contrast, they are 1-2-1 this year when allowing the first goal and went 3-5-2 last year – very good records nonetheless, but a dramatic drop-off from their record when they score first.
Although the Sounders had the top record in the league when going down a goal at 7-7-3, it’s not a position they want to be in on Wednesday night when they host the Galaxy at 7 pm at CenturyLink Field.
“The first goal is important in every game. We were a team that did a great job last year coming back from a deficit and we’re glad that we’re not putting ourselves in that position. That’s a test that eventually you lose,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “It’s going to be an intense matchup for sure, because these are two quality teams.”
The Sounders have the horses to put up that early goal too.
David Estrada has four goals this season to lead the team and Eddie Johnson added his first of what the team hopes to be many in Saturday’s 2-1 win over the Chicago Fire on Saturday. Fredy Montero has yet to score, but that drought is sure to end soon for the Sounders FC’s all-time leading scorer with 34 goals over three seasons.
Include the potent attack from the wings with Mauro Rosales and Alvaro Fernandez, who both seemed optimistic about playing in Wednesday’s match after both missed time with recent injuries, and Brad Evans, who has shown a knack for scoring needed goals in his time with the Sounders, and Seattle can get goals from all over the field.
Even defender Zach Scott has a tally for Seattle this year, nodding in a winner in a 1-0 triumph over the Colorado Rapids.
“Not only is it Fredy that teams have to watch out for, or myself, but David Estrada is on fire,” Johnson said. “Whenever you can get different personnel scoring on the team it says a lot about the depth of the team and the strength of the team.”
After Wednesday’s match against the Galaxy, the Sounders will host the pesky Philadelphia Union (2-4-1, 7th in East) on Saturday in a match that will be nationally televised on the NBC Sports Network.