CARSON, Calif. – It was a match of dueling emotions at The Home Depot Center as the Sounders FC weathered a difficult week of travel to oust Chivas USA 2-0. However, they lost midfielder Osvaldo Alonso to a thigh injury and Obafemi Martins to a red card, playing the last 20 minutes down a man to spring to 5-4-3 with their fourth win in their last five matches.
Martins became the fastest player in Sounders FC history to reach four goals with a looping first-half shot and Michael Gspurning posted his fifth shutout of the year as the Sounders extended their unbeaten run against Chivas to nine straight matches.
“I don’t think we played brilliant. I thought we did what we needed to do in order to win the game,” said Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid. “I don’t think it was our best game of soccer for the year, but we did enough.”
The match started slowly as the Sounders tried to determine how to attack Chivas in their 4-3-3 formation under interim coach Sacha van der Most.
Jose Correa got the first good attempt on goal in the 16th minute, getting some space on the right side of the box, but his shot was easily smothered by Gspurning for the save, the first of five he would make on the night.
In the 20th minute, Alonso needed to be subbed out after taking a knee to the thigh. He was making his return to the lineup after missing the previous match with a groin injury, but early indications were that his substitution was for an unrelated thigh injury. Andy Rose came on for Alonso and Seattle recovered quickly, as Martins scored his fourth goal of the year.
The Sounders played the ball up the left side and Mario Martinez played it forward to Lamar Neagle, who touched it in behind the Chivas defense for the streaking Martins. He drew Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy off his line and chipped it in for the 1-0 lead in the 22nd minute.
“Lamar gave me the first touch and after I touched the ball like two, three times I decided what I was going to do and the goalkeeper didn’t really move. He just stood there,” Martins said. “I decided what I was going to do and I just chipped it up. It was a good goal.”
That lead doubled in the 33rd minute when Mauro Rosales pushed up the right side and crossed a ball for the far post. With nobody around him, Mario de Luna headed the ball cleanly into the net, leaving Kennedy dumbfounded with the own-goal as Seattle took control up 2-0.
Martins looked to add to his goal total in the 41st minute when he took a cross from Rosales and headed it on goal. Kennedy made the initial stop and Matins attempted to put back the rebound, but was swarmed by two defenders and Kennedy covered the ball before he could get a boot to it.
In the second half, Seattle maintained pressure on Chivas, but weren’t able to add to their lead.
They would finish the match down a man, though, as Martins was sent off in the 71st minute. In a tangle in the middle of the field, referee Ricardo Salazar ruled that Martins was overly physical in his challenge for the ball.
“It was the referee’s decision and there isn’t anything I can do about it,” Martins said. “For me, I didn’t do anything. I was trying to get up and get the ball back.”
Gspurning was forced into his greatest save of the night in the 89th minute, diving to his right to push away a bouncing shot off the boot of Tristan Bowen, preserving the shutout and the Sounders victory.
Seattle will return to CenturyLink Field on Saturday for a Cascadia Cup match against the Vancouver Whitecaps FC, their second match in the derby series this season.
Sounders FC – Obafemi Martins (Lamar Neagle, Mario Martinez) 22; Own goal (Mario de Luna) 33.
Chivas USA – None.
Sounders FC – Mauro Rosales (caution) 36; Obafemi Martins (ejection) 71.
Chivas USA – Gabriel Farfan (caution) 75.
Sounders FC – Michael Gspurning, DeAndre Yedlin, Zach Scott, Djimi Traore, Leo Gonzalez, Mauro Rosales (David Estrada 75), Osvaldo Alonso (Andy Rose 21), Servando Carrasco, Mario Martinez (Marc Burch 77), Obafemi Martins, Lamar Neagle.
Chivas USA – Dan Kennedy, Walter Vilchez (Tristan Bowen 70), Joaquin Velazquez, Bobby Burling, Mario de Luna, Eric Avila, Carlos Alvarez, Oswalso Minda (Marvin Iraheta 64), Gabriel Farfan, Jorge Villafana, Jose Correa (Miller Bolanos 61).