SEATTLE - Jordan Morris scored for the third consecutive game and the Seattle Sounders picked up their second shutout of the season in a 1-0 win over Columbus Crew SC at CenturyLink Field on Saturday.
The Sounders’ celebrated Homegrown signing pounced on a loose ball inside the Crew penalty box in the 88th minute after Crew goalkeeper Steve Clark parried a shot by Oalex Anderson, and the Mercer Island native thumped a left-footed shot into the back of the net for the game-winner.
The goal was a cathartic moment for the Sounders (3-4-1), who struggled all day to crack Clark and the reigning Eastern Conference champions in front of 39,473 fans. The win snapped the Crew’s two-game winning streak over the Sounders dating back to 2014 and also kept the Sounders unbeaten against Eastern Conference teams this season (3-0-0).
Morris’ goal came after defender Joevin Jones skipped a ball into the box to the second-half substitute Anderson, but his point-blank shot was steered away. Morris, 21, now leads the Sounders with three goals this season.
Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei made four saves in the shutout, his second in the last three games at CenturyLink Field. Frei’s biggest moment came early on, when his impromptu kick save on a knuckling shot from Crew midfielder Federico Higuain in the ninth minute kept the visitors off the board.
The Sounders played this one without veteran midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz (thigh), the first time the Austrian import has missed a start in 2016. His absence left room for youngster Aaron Kovar to get the start and to mark the eighth different lineup the Sounders have used in eight games this season.
Clint Dempsey returned to the lineup after missing the team’s 3-1 loss to the Colorado Rapids on April 23 and finished with three shots before he was subbed out in the 78th minute. His best chance came in the 50th minute, when his header off a cross from Jones soared just over the crossbar.
Morris had other chances too, but all went begging. His best opportunity came in the 73rd minute, when the Crew cleared a Sounders cross to the top of the box. Morris corralled the ball, but blasted a right-footed shot over the bar.
Jones also had a good look in the 47th minute when a Sounders cross skipped out to far end of the box, but Clark made the save, one of seven in the game for the veteran netminder.
- STATS: Check out the final boxscore
The best scoring opportunity of the first half for either team belonged to Crew winger Ethan Finlay, but the young U.S. national team prospect missed a breakaway chance in the 42nd minute after a taking a through ball from Higuain.
The Sounders had their chances too before the break, but either failed to connect on the final touch or they simply couldn’t beat Clark when it counted. Their best threat came in the 34th minute, when Herculez Gomez drifted a free kick into the box that bounced around and ultimately landed on the head of Zach Scott. The Sounders defender opted to glance a header back across goal to Morris, who couldn’t quite reach the ball before it skipped out of harm’s way.
The Sounders also nearly scored on a blast from just inside the box in the 6th minute from midfielder Cristian Roldan, but the shot drifted just wide of the far post.
The Sounders return to action at home against the San Jose Earthquakes on May 7.
Seattle Sounders FC 1 – Columbus Crew SC 0
Saturday, April 30, 2016
Venue: CenturyLink Field
Referee: Juan Guzman
Assistants: Michael Kampmeinert, Eduardo Mariscal
Fourth Official: Baboucarr Jallow
Weather: Sunny and 61 degrees
SEA – Jordan Morris 88’
SEA – Osvaldo Alonso (caution) 67’
SEA – Erik Friberg (caution) 82’
CLB – Waylon Francis (caution) 86’
CLB – Ethan Finlay (caution) 87’
LINEUPS & STATS
Seattle Sounders FC – Stefan Frei; Tyrone Mears, Zach Scott – captain, Chad Marshall, Joevin Jones; Osvaldo Alonso, Cristian Roldan, Aaron Kovar (Erik Friberg 65’); Herculez Gomez (Oalex Anderson 87’), Clint Dempsey (Nelson Valdez 78’), Jordan Morris
Substitutes not used: Tyler Miller, Tony Alfaro, Dylan Remick, Oniel Fisher
Total shots: 16 (Gomez, 4)
Shots on goal: 8 (Gomez, 3)
Fouls: 9 (Alonso/Kovar, 2)
Corner-kicks: 6 (Gomez, 4)
Saves: 4 (Frei, 4)
Columbus Crew SC – Steve Clark; Harrison Afful, Tyson Wahl, Michael Parkhurst – captain, Waylon Francis; Ethan Finlay, Tony Tchani (Rodrigo Saravia 77’;), Federico Higuain (Ola Kamara 87’), Wil Trapp, Justin Meram (Cedrick Mabwati 71’); Kei Kamara
Substitutes not used: Brad Stuver, Corey Ashe, Hector Jimenez, Amro Tarek
Total shots: 16 (Higuain, 4)
Shots on goal: 4 (Higuain, 2)
Fouls: 13 (Afful/Francis, 3)
Offside: 1 (K. Kamara, 1)
Corner-kicks: 5 (Higuain, 5)
Saves: 7 (Clark, 7)