When Seattle first learned that it would house an MLS club back in 2007, the club pledged a desire to play entertaining soccer.
Saturday afternoon at CenturyLink Field that vision played out as well as it could when Clint Dempsey scored two goals to lead Sounders FC to a 4-1 win over the Colorado Rapids and rise to the top record in MLS at 6-2-1.
“Once the guys got into a role in the second half, it was a lot of fun out there for each other—working, playing off of each other,” Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said. “I wish we had a clean sheet, but the offensive soccer that we produced tonight was very good.”
The three Seattle goalscorers on Saturday have shown consistency throughout the first eight matches of the season, with Dempsey leading the league with eight goals while adding three assists, Obafemi Martins with three goals and a league-best four assists and Lamar Neagle with three goals and three assists.
That distribution of the scoring load makes Seattle all the more dangerous in the attack with goals coming from all angles.
“We’ve been having fun. Clint scoring. Me scoring. Lamar is scoring as well. We’re happy,” Martins said. “I think we’re enjoying the game more this year and I hope we can continue like that.”
For the first time in seven matches this season, the Rapids allowed a first half goal when Seattle broke onto the scoreboard in stoppage time. Martins played Dempsey into the box, who eluded goalkeeper Clint Irwin by juking to the right, then rolled a shot toward the far post. Drew Moor got a boot to the ball to keep it from going in, but Lamar Neagle was there to pounce on the ball in front of the open net for his third goal of the season, giving Seattle the 1-0 lead heading into halftime.
Not long after the second half resumed, Dempsey scored twice in five minutes to rocket the Sounders to a three-goal lead.
In the 47th minute, he pirouetted at the top of the box and flipped the ball to Marco Pappa on the left side. Pappa’s initial effort was stopped by Irwin, but Dempsey thumped home the rebound for a 2-0 lead.
Then in the 52nd minute, Gonzalo Pineda played a corner kick to the far post. Chad Marshall got his head on it to play it back to the middle and Dempsey nodded in his second goal of the match and eighth of the season to put Sounders FC up 3-0.
Colorado would pull one back through Dillon Serna’s first goal of the season in the 62nd minute, but that’s as close as they would get as Martins added his third goal of the season on an assist from Neagle to run the score to 4-1 in the 75th minute.
“It’s great to see from my perspective. I thought we had some exceptional plays, some really good combinations. We played some beautiful football at times today,” Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei said. “It’s awesome to be part of a team where you can win 4-1. For a goalkeeper, it saves you a heart attack. We’ve been clicking really well all over the pitch and it’s an awesome team to be a part of.”
Dempsey and Martins have now combined for 11 goals and seven assists through Seattle’s first eight matches, further cementing the duo as the top attacking threat in Major League Soccer.
“Right now, based on goals, production and points, I think they are,” Schmid said. “People could make a case for Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan, and those guys together are pretty good, but right now Dempsey and Martins are as good as it gets in our league.”
Added defender Dylan Remick, “It’s fun to watch. I don’t want to be the other team’s defenders because I know how embarrassing those two can make everyone on the field feel. They just have such good chemistry and they’re vibing right now”
Dempsey and Martins may grab the headlines, and justifiably so, but they aren’t the only ones making big contributions to the Sounders FC offense of late. With 13 goals in the last four matches, Seattle has seen scoring from four different players. Dempsey leads the way with seven goals to go with two assists, while Martins and Neagle have two goals each and Kenny Cooper added another.
“I think it’s our team is confident and getting in a good rhythm of play and building off of that. You can see that the link-up play is really good throughout the whole team and we’re creating opportunities for each other,” Dempsey said. “That’s what it’s about. That’s when you enjoy your ball the most, when everybody’s contributing and everybody feels valued.”
Seattle will host the Philadelphia Union on May 3, then FC Dallas in a quick turnaround on May 7 before the next road match.