When Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid needed to turn to his bench last week for a rightback in one game and a centerback in the other, he had no hesitation in calling on Zach Scott.
That the opponents in those games were the ever-volatile offenses of Sporting Kansas City and the San Jose Earthquakes just raised the challenge for Scott.
“He doesn’t fear anything,” goalkeeper Michael Gspurning said. “He goes through walls if he has to.”
Against Kansas City, he played rightback in place of the suspended DeAndre Yedlin and spent the match slowing down Jacob Peterson and second-half substitute Kei Kamara. Peterson took just two shots and two crosses on the match while Kamara didn’t manage a shot and only one cross. Scott, meanwhile, finished the match with four tackles and four clearances, winning five of his six aerial duels and 10 of 13 duels overall. All while helping the Sounders to a shutout and 1-0 road win over the East's top team last year.
He followed that up with a performance that was nothing short of stellar against the Earthquakes, giving a rest to Jhon Kennedy Hurtado at centerback.
There he would go toe-to-toe with Alan Gordon, the feisty forward with a reputation for rugged play, particularly in the air. He would also need to help deter 2012 MLS MVP Chris Wondolowski, who combined with Gordon to score 40 goals in 2012.
The two were familiar foes, dating back to when Gordon played with the Portland Timbers and Scott with the Sounders in the USL in 2004.
In Saturday's standoff, Scott finished with 22 clearances, double the total of the next-highest player. He also blocked a game-high three shots, an element that has quickly become a hallmark of a Seattle defense that has posted four shutouts in the last five matches.
“I’ve got a good indication of the way he plays. Obviously he’s physical, but he is a skilled guy,” said Scott of Gordon. “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.”
The two-match swing was just another feather in the cap for Scott, who now has 80 appearances across all competitions in his fifth season with the Sounders FC. It is his 12th season in Seattle after spending his entire professional career with the Sounders in the USL before signing with the MLS club in 2009.
That dedication to the club isn’t lost on his teammates.
“Zach is a legend here. What he is doing for the club can’t be rated high enough. He is 100-percent a Sounder,” Gspurning said. “Without him, the club wouldn’t be the same. I’m very proud to have a teammate like Zach.”