Twenty nine seconds was all Alex Caskey would need to make an impact on Saturday night at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California.
The first-year midfielder first touched the field in the 61st minute, replacing Alvaro Fernandez with a focus on providing a spark for a Seattle offense that had generated only five shots to that point.
He started toward the middle of the field, then moved in to the left side of midfield. When Fredy Montero rolled a pass to him 20 yards out on the left side, he didn't waste any time in turning toward goal and finding David Estrada on a run behind John Valencia. The Chivas defender lunged at the cross, but it got through to Estrada, who knocked it past Dan Kennedy for his fifth goal of the season.
"I was hoping to just come in and bring some energy and help create a chance," Caskey said. "I was lucky enough to help get one."
On a team with a surplus of talented midfielders that includes top internationals Alvaro Fernandez and Mauro Rosales on the wings and expert field general Brad Evans pairing with the top ball-winner in the league in Osvaldo Alonso, Caskey has found a way to contribute early in his first MLS season.
He impressed in training camp, then when injuries and a congested schedule created opportunities for playing time, Caskey was a natural choice.
After playing last year with the Charleston Battery in the USL, Caskey has already been called on to start four matches and come off the bench as a sub in four others. His three assists share the team lead with Montero.
"We're a very deep team and anyone who steps on the field can make a difference and Alex Caskey did just that," said Estrada, who himself has found success with a team-high five goals this season.
Whether it's been as a starter or off the bench, Caskey has fit in well with his new team. When Rosales missed a stretch of games with a knee injury, Caskey was the one taking many of Seattle's corner kicks and set up Zach Scott for his first MLS goal in a 1-0 win over the Colorado Rapids.
Regardless of his role, he's shown no hesitancy in putting his own impression on the game.
"Every time I come in I just try to make a difference and use my energy to hopefully make an impact on the game," he said. "Playing a couple of different positions helps me get a feel for different spots on the field, especially coming in as a sub."
After he entered the match, the Sounders quickly found the equalizer and managed six shots over the final 30 minutes. Though they weren't able to take the lead, Caskey did help Seattle earn a point out of the road match, giving them a ten-game road unbeaten streak.
"It's disappointing that we didn't get the win. After we equalized we even had a few chances to get another one to get the win," Caskey said. "Considering we were down a goal in the second half, luckily we were able to come out of here with a tie. In that sense, it was good."
The Sounders will have a short break before their next MLS match on June 16 against the Montreal Impact. First, though, they will meet the Atlanta Silverbacks in the third round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup on Wednesday night at Starfire in Tukwila.