SEATTLE – When the Sounders FC hosted FC Dallas at CenturyLink Field on Saturday night, it was bound to be a blockbuster. Seattle was riding a five-game unbeaten streak, while Dallas was tops in MLS and riding a nine-match unbeaten streak.
The crowd of 38,979 got just what they were hoping for, as Eddie Johnson scored two, Lamar Neagle had a goal and an assist and Obafemi Martins added another to see the Sounders extend their unbeaten streak to six matches and jump to 4-3-3 on the season with a 4-2 win over FC Dallas.
“Obviously a good game for the fans,” said Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid. “Now it’s just a situation of us continuing to do what we’ve been doing over the last few games and to carry it forward. The guys know what they have to do. They know how they have to play to win games.”
Seattle didn’t waste much time in getting things started.
In the 16th minute, Johnson put one away against his former team, pulling down an arching ball from Osvaldo Alonso to score his third goal of the season.
Raul Fernandez powered a goal kick into the middle of the field and Alonso leapt for a header to get the ball to Johnson, who outplayed London Woodberry and Matt Hedges to get the ball into space at the top of the box before blasting it past Fernandez for the goal and a 1-0 lead.
Brad Evans nearly added another in the 27th minute when he was played in behind the Dallas defense from midfield. He went on the run and went 1v1 with Fernandez, but the Peruvian goalkeeper made the stop.
Minutes later, Seattle made sure Dallas paid for their high back line, as Evans played Neagle behind the defense and Neagle, juking Fernandez to the ground, then calmly put it into the open net for his third goal of the season, all coming in the last two matches, as the Sounders took a 2-0 lead in the 30th minute.
In the 42nd minute, Michel got his head to a ball in the box, but it hit off the post and Michael Gspurning swatted the ball away to keep it out of danger.
Dallas would get one back though, as Michel sent a long free kick into the box where Kenny Cooper got into space and headed in his third goal of the season, snapping Gspurning’s shutout streak at 272 minutes and cutting Seattle’s lead in half at 2-1 in the 54th minute.
In the 59th minute, the Sounders had a pair of chances denied by the Dallas defense. First, Johnson’s shot was blocked by Fernandez and when Evans got to the rebound, Woodberry got the clearance off the line.
In the 61st minute, the lead was erased when Michel sent in an Olympico from the right corner, bending the corner kick inside the far post for his first MLS goal.
But just as quickly as Dallas equalized, the Sounders pounced back into the lead.
Neagle led Johnson up the right side into the box and Johnson pulled Fernandez away to open up space in front of the net, cutting around him and blasting a shot into the net for his second goal for the match and fourth of the season in 62nd minute to give Seattle the 3-2 lead.
“You never want to squander a two-goal lead, but we knew they were dangerous on set pieces,” Schmid said. “The timeliness of our third goal was really vital and we continued to get opportunities.”
Already toting a one-goal advantage, the Sounders then took on a one-man advantage when Blas Perez was ejected with a straight red card for an elbow to the head of Leo Gonzalez in the 73rd minute. The elbow bloodied Gonzalez and caused the Seattle left back to be replaced in the lineup by Zach Scott.
Seattle didn’t let the scoring stop there, though, as second-half substitute Martins tallied his third goal of the season in the 83rd minute. Johnson blasted a shot that was saved by Fernandez, but the rebound spilled to Evans on the right side. He sent the ball across the box to Martins, who spun the ball inside the far post for a 4-2 Seattle lead and Seattle held to that lead until the final whistle.
“We want to win our games at home. That’s super important. Being able to measure ourselves against a first place team in our conference is important. Being able to show that once our weapons are healthy that we can score goals on the offensive end was another important factor, as well,” Schmid said.
The Sounders, who have been slowly getting players back from injuries in recent weeks, lost a key cog when Alonso went down with a groin injury in the first half. He was replaced by Shalrie Joseph in the 31st minute. That is in addition to Gonzalez, who has started in eight of Seattle’s ten matches this season.
The win jumps the Sounders to sixth in the Western Conference, just one point behind the Colorado Rapids in fifth place. They still have two games in hand on all but one team ahead of them in the standings.
After two straight home games, the Sounders will take to the road for a nationally televised match against the LA Galaxy on May 26 at the Home Depot Center.
Sounders FC – Eddie Johnson (Osvaldo Alonso) 16; Lamar Neagle (Brad Evans) 30; Eddie Johnson (Lamar Neagle) 62; Obafemi Martins (Brad Evans) 83.
FC Dallas – Kenny Cooper (Michel) 54; Michel 61.
Sounders FC – DeAndre Yedlin (caution) 87.
FC Dallas – London Woodberry (caution) 43; Blas Perez (ejection) 73.
Sounders FC – Michael Gspurning, DeAndre Yedlin, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Djimi Traore, Leo Gonzalez (Zach Scott 78), Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso (Shalrie Joseph 31), Servando Carrasco, Mario Martinez (Obafemi Martins 63), Eddie Johnson, Lamar Neagle.
FC Dallas – Raul Fernandez, Zach Loyd, Matt Hedges, London Woodberry (Walker Zimmerman 85), Jair Benitez, Jackson, Michel, Je-Vaughn Watson, Kenny Cooper (Fabian Castillo 64), Blas Perez, Eric Hassli.
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