The Sounders defeated Chivas USA 2-0 at The Home Depot Center on Saturday night. Here's what we learned.
Sounders FC concluded their eight-day road trip in the same place it started, ending on a positive note with a 2-0 victory over Chivas USA to improve to 5-4-3 on the season.
Here are four things we learned from Seattle’s fourth win in their last five matches.
Seattle is a resilient team
The Sounders entered the match on Saturday having traveled 5,510 air miles in a week, first visiting Los Angeles for a match against the LA Galaxy last Sunday, then on to Tampa, Fla., for a US Open Cup match with the Tampa Bay Rowdies before returning to southern California to face Chivas. Leading up to the match, the Sounders went without the services of Eddie Johnson and Brad Evans to international duty, Steve Zakuani to injury and Shalrie Joseph to suspension. During the match with Chivas, the Sounders also lost Osvaldo Alonso to a thigh injury in the first half and Obafemi Martins to a red card in the second half. Through it all the Sounders showed a lot of resolve and came out victorious.
“I thought our character was good. Obviously, losing Alonso early, Andy Rose had to come in and battle and play. We made a couple of subs trying to keep our wide players fresh because we knew that they would have to work a lot at the end,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “The character and the effort were really good tonight. We had to roll up our sleeves and just work to get out of here with a 2-0.”
Wide play rules the day
With Mario Martinez and Mauro Rosales in the lineup for the Sounders, they had two playmakers capable of setting up goals from anywhere on the field. With Alonso and Servando Carrasco starting in the middle of midfield, and Andy Rose later replacing Alonso, it allowed for more offensive freedom to the wingers, particularly with the 4-3-3 formation employed by Chivas. With Rosales and Martinez, the Sounders were able to spring behind the defense regularly, with Martinez setting up the first goal by Martins and Rosales crossing the ball the was headed in for an own-goal by Mario de Luna.
Martins is a class above
When the Sounders signed Martins, they knew they were getting a serious goal-scoring threat. He’s been that and more for Seattle, netting his fourth goal in the 22nd minute to become the fastest player to four goals in club history. In 2009, Fredy Montero scored his fourth goal in his eighth match, after 594 minutes on the field. In 2010, Blaise Nkufo joined the team at midseason and scored four goals in his first 582 minutes over seven matches. Martins also played in seven matches, but needed just 317 minutes to tally his fourth score. His goal on Saturday was a special kind of chip when he calmly bested Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy. He was also goal-dangerous throughout the rest of the match, nearly adding another in the 41st minute when his header was stopped by Dan Kennedy and his follow-up attempt was smothered by the Chivas defense.
“He’s gotten goals for us, for sure. That’s what he’s here for,” Schmid said. “He’s not here to be a playmaker and do all that other stuff. He’s here to finish chances.”
Back on Track
The Sounders entered this trip as the hottest team in Major League Soccer with a 4-0-2 record in their previous six matches and a three-match winning streak. To some, it appeared that run was an illusion when they fell 4-0 to the LA Galaxy, then 1-0 to the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the NASL in the US Open Cup. And while the match may not have been the prettiest thing, the result was just what the Sounders needed to regain their confidence moving forward. They also restored their “hottest team in MLS” status, netting 12 points in their last five matches, better than any other team in the league in that stretch. They also have more points than any other team in the last seven matches, with 16 in that stretch while New York and Montreal are second with 14 each.
“We’ve had to work through a lot of things,” Schmid said. “When we have all of our bodies here, I think we’re a good team. We feel good about what we can do and the team is very confident in their abilities.”