On the scoresheet, Marco Pappa's first goal for Sounders FC looks simple enough, reading "Marco Pappa, 55." However, the simplicity of the unassisted score belies the story behind the free kick goal that gave Sounders FC a 2-0 lead as it ransacked Real Salt Lake 4-0 on Saturday at CenturyLink Field.
"It was beautiful," Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said. "It was a great goal."
Brad Evans was fouled 25 yards out on a run in from the right side, setting up a dangerous set piece for Seattle. Real Salt Lake lined up a six-man wall in front of goalkeeper Jeff Attinella as Pappa and Lamar Neagle set up over the ball.
However, three other players also played roles in the goal.
Evans, who was lined up defensively to keep RSL from breaking out on the counterattack, joined the fray over the ball to offer some advice to Neagle and Pappa.
"I thought that if Lamar comes over the ball, maybe the goalie takes a step one way before Marco hits it and he can wrong-foot the goalkeeper," Evans said.
However, Pappa wanted to be able to time his own shot and was confident that he could do that better without contending with a run from Neagle.
Meanwhile, Chad Barrett was trying to line up with Salt Lake's wall, jostling for position with RSL defender Nat Borchers and forward Devon Sandoval. But he wasn't alone. Just in front of him, Gonzalo Pineda was hunched over with this back to the ball, mirroring the movements of Attinella.
"That's something that I learned from Hugo Sanchez, who was my coach in Mexico," Pineda said. "He was a great shooter from that area, so he showed how the goalkeeper is making the last move, so I was just trying to be between Marco and the goal."
By further shielding Attinella from the ball, Pineda potentially bought an extra fraction of a second for Pappa, whose placement left little that the Salt Lake keeper could do to stop it.
During the week, Seattle practices shooting free kicks over walls from just outside the box, and Seattle Assistant Coach Ezra Hendrickson listed Pappa and Neagle as the best options last week. When he saw the placement of the ball, Pappa saw his opportunity to score.
"I felt a lot of confidence, which is a good thing," Pappa said. "And I think it's also because of Fridays before game we were training for free kicks. I think that had a part to do with it and those are the things that are important."
With a quick run-up, Pappa curled his left-footed free kick over the wall before it dipped toward the net, grazing the near post as it eluded Attinella's outstretched hand.
The passion and elation on his face spoke volumes of the goal’s meaning to him, his first in a Sounders uniform after returning to MLS after struggling with Heerenveen in Holland.
"It means a lot for me because it has been a while since I scored goal because of what happened to me in the past, but now I'm living in the present and I'm feeling better and better," Pappa said. "And also the team is looking good. We're still in first place and now we have to keep that going."
This week, Pappa will return to Chicago, where he had 26 goals and 16 assists over five seasons from 2008-2012 with the Fire. Seattle and Chicago will meet for the only time this season on Saturday at Toyota Stadium.