The Sounders dominated their Western Conference foes at CenturyLink Field. Here's what we learned.
After four straight matches without a victory against the San Jose Earthquakes, the Sounders FC finally broke through on Saturday in dramatic fashion with a 4-0 win over their Western Conference foes at CenturyLink Field.
Here are four things we learned from the match that saw Seattle run their unbeaten streak to five matches at 3-0-2.
Scott handles the pressure
In the last two matches, Zach Scott has played rightback and centerback against Sporting Kansas City and the San Jose Earthquakes, two of the better scoring teams in MLS over the last two seasons. He helped limit Kansas City to just three shots on goal, all of which came in the first half. Then on Saturday, he shut down Alan Gordon and Chris Wondolowski, a duo that combined to score 40 goals in 2012. Against the Earthquakes, he had a game-high 22 clearances, twice that of the next highest player for either team.
“I’ve got a good indication of the way (Gordon) plays. Obviously he’s physical, but he is a skilled guy,” said Scott, who faced off with Gordon in the USL era when Scott played for the Sounders and Gordon with the Timbers in 2004. “He and Wondo play really well off of each other. I think we really limited their chances and, all in all, it’s a really good day when you get a shutout.”
Lamar is a gamer
Lamar Neagle felt he owed something to his teammates. He said he let the team down when he earned a one-game suspension for his red card in Seattle’s 2-2 draw with the Philadelphia Union last week. When he returned to the lineup against San Jose, he more than made up for it with two goals – his second multi-goal game with the Sounders after posting a hat trick on August 27, 2011, in a 6-2 win over the Columbus Crew. With Obafemi Martins and Eddie Johnson nearing full strength, Neagle isn’t making it easy for Sigi Schmid to take him out of the lineup. Just like David Estrada did last year when he scored five goals in the club’s first four matches across all competitions, Neagle has shown that he is deserving of playing time after his brace on Saturday and contributing greatly to the team’s success along the way.
“I think in the games he’s played up front he’s deserved some goals. He was unlucky-I think he hit the crossbar in one game and he barely missed wide in another. We made the decision to push him up front, while we’d mostly played him wide before that because we thought maybe that’s where he could succeed for us, as well. Now he’s finding his confidence,” Schmid said. “It’s his game performances that’ll keep getting him on the field. Obviously, this afternoon’s performance was pretty solid.”
Same old Rosales
In his first two seasons in Major League Soccer, Mauro Rosales was a force on the right wing, collecting 13 assists in each of those seasons while earning MLS Newcomer of the Year honors in 2011 and continuing that success in 2012. However, he started the 2013 season slowly, notching just one assist in the club’s first six matches while splitting time between starting and coming off the bench. After posting a goal and an assist in his last two starts, he is feeling much younger than his 32 years.
“I’m very happy that the team is turning around and having good games. I think it was the first time since the preseason that I didn’t have to miss any training. I feel fit,” he said. “I may be 32 years old, but I’m still trying to learn and improve all the time and do the best for the team.”
175 wins, but still not satisfied
Ever the soccer coach, Schmid took time to savor Saturday’s victory, his 175th regular season win as an MLS head coach. However, he also saw plenty of room for improvement in a Sounders team that is slowly climbing the Western Conference standings.
“As a coach, you’re never completely happy,” Schmid laughed. “I thought there was a period of time at the end of the first half that I wasn’t really happy with and there was a period of time in the middle of the second half that I thought we were giving away possession too easily. I think from a standpoint of scoring goals, creating chances and also playing good defense, in terms of league, it was probably our most complete game.”