When Jordan Hamilton cleaned up a Sebastian Giovinco shot and smashed it into an open net for a 1-0 Toronto FC lead, you could almost feel the air sucking out of the Sounders as a collective.

For the first hour of Saturday’s match, Seattle struggled to generate much in the attacking third and had yet to produce a shot on goal when Hamilton scored. And while the defense hadn’t broken until then, Toronto FC wasted two prime scoring chances in the first half, including an open header from inside the six from Jay Chapman. What’s more, Seattle hadn’t won - or even scored - in more than two league matches.

It took seconds - not minutes - for Jordan Morris to apply the billows to the Sounders’ flame and reawaken the beast.

Morris’s goal in the 61st minute rescued a road point the Sounders needed as much for confidence purposes as for positioning in the Western Conference standings. The Sounders assuredly looked at this match as a point-gained scenario, and they should. The 1-1 result was far more palatable on the Rave Green end of things.

Here’s a look at three things we learned from the match.

The Mercer Island Magician Awakens

For 247 consecutive minutes stretching back to mid-June, the Sounders had not scored in a match. That encompassed two-plus full matches, and through the first half that issue had not been remedied. In fact, Seattle hadn’t so much as put a shot on target, and Morris largely struggled to connect with his midfielders.

That changed in the second half, arguably Morris’s best 45 minutes as a professional.

Morris was important in Seattle coach Sigi Schmid’s 4-3-3 primarily because neither Aaron Kovar nor Andreas Ivanschitz are true 4-3-3 wingers. Neither strayed all that high in support of Morris, and so he mostly operated as a lone striker loping onto over-the-top balls and trying to catch TFC’s three-man defensive middle off guard. That put a tremendous amount of pressure on Morris to hold up the attacking front and pull the rest into the architecture of the build.

It took some time, but he finally got there.

“It felt good,” Morris said. “To get a response right away was great.”

Morris’s goal - a beautiful three-touch sequence that ended with a picture-perfect spotted kick in the far netting - was good enough on its own to earn Morris man of the match status. But he did so much more in this setup that deserved praise. He led the team with three key passes that led to a shot, transitioned seamlessly to the 4-4-2 the team switched into once Nelson Valdez was introduced in the 71st minute, and was generally the attacking glue all evening.

Friberg Comes Up Big

While most of the transfer discussion has centered around the Sounders potentially signing a goal creator in the midfield, Schmid has to work with what he has in the interim. And on Saturday, that meant rolling with the three-man midfield he’s largely preferred this season: Osvaldo Alonso, Cristian Roldan and Erik Friberg.

How that’s actually worked has fluctuated this season, and Saturday’s permutation was a wrinkle Schmid hasn’t thrown into the blender all that often. Roldan and Alonso stayed deep as the holders while Friberg, the roving Swede, played underneath Morris.

Credit Friberg, because he isn’t a natural No. 10. Yet he managed to largely fulfill his tactical role on Saturday and routinely pushed higher than any Sounders player not named Jordan Morris. With how withdrawn both Kovar and Ivanschitz were, the Sounders could not have abided anything deeper from Friberg, and as a result he was Morris’s most comfortable link.

Friberg isn’t a typical creator in that he looks to make stabbing runs as much as he looks to hit runners. But don’t overlook the fact that more than half of Friberg’s 49 passes came in the attacking half, and he managed to complete a respectable 70 percent of those. For a player being asked to perform above and beyond his normal call of duty, that’s a successful night on the range.

Welcoming Back the Cavalry

The Sounders were without two notable scratches from the 18-man roster on Saturday in Toronto: captain Brad Evans and attacking talisman Clint Dempsey. Evans was rested due to a calf injury, while Dempsey was rested to give him a break after a trying five-game romp at the Copa America Centenario.

In a comment before the match, Schmid noted that Evans’ injury likely isn’t serious enough to also keep him out for the LA Galaxy match at home on Saturday, and Dempsey should be ready to roll as well. And that’s very good news for a team desperately trying to build on something.

"When you are where we are with our record,” Schmid said after the match, “we're looking for confidence."

From that aspect, Saturday was good to the Sounders. They went down on the road and immediately bit back for a goal less than a minute later through their young star forward. What’s more, they got enough quality individual performances to put the fact that they sit ninth in the Western Conference on the backburner for now.

The MLS season is lengthy, and breaking it into chucks is necessary in a mental sense. As Seattle learned last year during a rocky summer in which it lost eight of nine matches at one point, the only thing that matters is straightening the bow at the right time. So they’ll look for a spark, or an individual performance, or a big result to latch onto and venture off on a positive streak of games that helps them climb into playoff positioning.

If this TFC match was the start of that run? Well, the Sounders certainly looked the part in the second half on Saturday.



A Concacaf Champions League celebration, theme matches, and a long home stretch make Sounders matches at Lumen Field your perfect Seattle summer destination.



Watch the Kings of Concacaf take on the rest of MLS this season! Get your single match tickets today.