There is an assumption that when a team comes back from a first half deficit that there must have been some sort of fiery speech at halftime to reinvigorate the squad to a second half performance that eventually earns the victory.
For Sounders FC, there was no fire and brimstone from Sigi Schmid when it trailed the Philadelphia Union 1-0 on Saturday night. Just calm confidence and an assurance that chances would come and when they do, they will score and eventually come away with the win. Seattle had already come back to win two games in April after trailing in the first half, so there was no change in the demeanor of the players when they came back on the field against the Union and eventually won the match, 2-1.
"It was usual," said forward Obafemi Martins when asked of the teams mentality entering the second half. "Coming in, Sigi was talking about how we get the three points—we had to score early when we're out there, and we did it. We worked hard and scored goals and got the three points."
Seattle has shown great character and composure all season in bouncing back for wins against FC Dallas and Chivas USA last month, as well as a 4-4 draw with the Portland Timbers. Against the Union, the Sounders were victims of their own errors as they trailed 1-0 at halftime off of an own-goal in the 13th minute and a missed penalty in the 40th minute.
Even after suffering those two fates, Seattle didn't hang its collective heads, but instead held the same steely gaze that had propelled it to the best record in MLS at 6-2-1.
"Those things happen in a game. You can't let them be the end of the game for you," defender Chad Marshall said. "I think if this season was going differently for us we might say 'Here we go again.' We've been getting good results and I just don't think we have that mindset as a team. We're going to battle until the end. It's kind of a 'Never say die' attitude."
Marshall embodied that attitude, coming up with six blocked shots in the match to keep the Union to just the one goal. That he later added the game-winning goal further solidified his importance in the match.
In addition to the first half flubs, Seattle was also dealt a tough hand when left back Dylan Remick was forced out of the match in the 51st minute with an injury. Schmid wanted to keep the offensive focus, so he brought Marco Pappa into the match for Remick and moved Brad Evans from the right side of midfield to left back.
The addition of Pappa to the attack created more attacking opportunities and Evans' attacking prowess from the back set up Seattle's first goal in the 61st minute.
On a ball that deflected into the air, Evans skied to beat six-foot-four Philadelphia defender Aaron Wheeler to the ball and nodded it to Martins in behind the defense. Martins took a touch, then volleyed it past Zac MacMath to equalize at 1-1.
The set-up on the initial shot was as important as the rugged effort from Evans that led to the goal.
"I think the movement of the ball and the movement of the players – they're very confident that if they keep moving they'll get the ball back," Schmid said.
Seattle continued to press on the offensive side while limiting the Union to just one shot on goal all match on the defensive side.
Finally, in the 84th minute, Pappa sent a corner kick into the box and Marshall snapped a header in for his first goal in Rave Green to give Sounders FC the 2-1 win, extending the club's winning streak to four and the unbeaten run to five matches.
"The guys fight for each other, the guys battle for each other. We said it at the beginning of the season—we wanted to be a team that fought to the very end of games and we're doing that," Schmid said. "We're showing that when the crowd is here, and they're behind us, and it's raining, and they're still singing and chanting and jumping up and down—we deserve to keep working for them."
Seattle will have a quick turnaround this week, hosting FC Dallas on Wednesday before flying cross-country to face the New England Revolution on Sunday.