CARSON, Calif. – When the schedule was announced and Sounders FC looked at the opening two months, a stretch of three straight road matches stood out as being a difficult stretch for Seattle.
After Saturday night’s 2-1 win over Chivas USA at the StubHub Center, Seattle not only earned seven of a possible nine points in that stretch, but also remained unbeaten in four matches away from home to start the season. The success away from CenturyLink Field has built some confidence heading into a stretch of three straight home matches.
“Our road record has been very, very good and our home record is not so good at the moment,” Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said. “The games have been physically demanding for us, so we have to make sure that we recover and get our team ready to play the next battle as we prepare for Colorado because it’s a big in-conference game. Winning this game, winning in Dallas – in conference and being able to win on the road – is really important.”
The win against Chivas, which extended Seattle’s unbeaten streak against the Goats to 12 straight matches, was similar to the other two road matches this month. In all three matches, Seattle fell behind in the first half, only to mount a comeback and earn points on the road with a 4-4 draw against the Portland Timbers and a 3-2 win over FC Dallas.
On Saturday, Chivas earned the early advantage when Osvaldo Alonso was whistled for a foul just inside the box in the fourth minute, drawing a penalty call for the home team, which was converted by Erick Torres to put Seattle down 1-0.
That deficit wouldn’t last though.
After a Gonzalo Pineda free kick bounced around in the box and was misplayed by Dan Kennedy, the ball spilled to Clint Dempsey, who knocked the ball in front of goal and Lamar Neagle hammered it into the net for his second goal of the season, equalizing the match at 1-1 in the 24th minute.
Sounders FC continued to press for a winner in the second half and were put on the man advantage when Chivas midfielder Marco Delgado was shown a red card for a midfield tackle of Pineda.
Seattle made that advantage count, getting out on the run in the 81st minute with Dempsey and Obafemi Martins continuing their stellar interplay. Dempsey ran at the Chivas defense, then played Martins into the box up the left side and he chipped Kennedy for his second goal of the season to give the Sounders the 2-1 lead. It was the second assist of the night for Dempsey and third of the year.
“We know with the players that we have and the play that we can put together, we can score goals. I wasn’t worried at all,” Neagle said. “Even though we got the win, we’re a little bit frustrated that we didn’t get some more. These are the games that we need to connect and find our stride.”
Sounders FC now will look to convert their road form into success at CenturyLink Field where it has suffered two 2-1 losses since a 1-0 season-opening victory over Sporting Kansas City.
“It’s always good to win, to move up the table where we should be. We put in a good performance tonight, another good performance away from home so we are happy,” Dempsey said. “With the three points, especially away from home, we are on a good run and it’s about keeping it going and we are happy with the fact that we’re moving up the table and we got to keep going. It feels good to be able to move up the table, like I said. We got to keep doing that, keep putting on performances like we did today and I think we’ll be fine.”
Sounders FC will host the Colorado Rapids on Saturday, followed by home contests against the Philadelphia Union on May 3 and FC Dallas on May 7.
The win lifted Seattle to a tie for second in the Western Conference at 4-2-1 (13 points), even with Real Salt Lake (3-0-4) and behind only FC Dallas (5-1-1, 16 points).