The Sounders unbeaten streak continued against Dallas. Here is what we learned from the match.
The Sounders FC’s unbeaten run continued to roll on after a 4-2 win over FC Dallas on Saturday at CenturyLink Field.
Here are four things we learned from the win.
Eddie burns Dallas
Eddie Johnson may have had a touch of extra motivation playing against his former club. He played five years with Dallas from 2001-2005, but had not scored in six previous games against them. That changed in a hurry on Saturday. In the 16th minute, he pulled down a pass from Osvaldo Alonso, held off two defenders and beat Raul Fernandez for the match’s first goal. Then in the 62nd minute, he took a pass from Lamar Neagle, pulled Fernandez off his line, then smashed a shot into the open net to quickly get the Sounders back on top after Dallas raced back to erase a 2-0 Seattle lead to make it 2-2 just one minute earlier. Johnson now has four goals this season to lead the team, solidifying the forward group that was struggling to score early in the season.
“For the first couple games of the season, my body was beat up and it was frustrating because there was a time that as a team, we faced a really difficult challenge,” Johnson said. “But it was just getting that rhythm and getting that confidence, and staying true to myself and believing in my teammates. In practice week in and week out, just working on what we need to and then putting it out on the field.”
Evans the chameleon
Brad Evans contributed two assists to the final score line, his first two helpers of the season, but his play on the field was much more than just that offensive output. Evans started the match as the right-sided midfielder, but when Osvaldo Alonso left the game with a groin injury in the first half, Evans moved into the middle of the midfield. From there, he set up Lamar Neagle with the second goal of the match in the 30th minute. At other points, he also played on the left side of midfield and later in the match when Leo Gonzalez left the match with a cut above his eye, it was Evans that moved to left back until they could get Zach Scott into the match as the final sub.
“Brad’s always part of our offense because his instincts are pretty good,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “He’s done different things for us and he got two good assists tonight. I was very pleased with his game.”
When a player of the caliber of Osvaldo Alonso goes down with an injury, a coach could certainly do worse than bringing on a four-time Best XI player in that position. That’s what Schmid did, though, in bringing Shalrie Joseph off the bench in the first half. Joseph and Servando Carrasco did well to close the gap in the midfield in Alonso's absence. Joseph’s final defensive line included one tackle, two clearances and four interceptions while gaining possession for Seattle 11 times. Carrasco was also impressive with seven tackles, four interceptions and gained possession eight times.
“I think if you can bring in Shalrie to fill in that position, I think you’re doing OK,” said Evans. “It’s part of the game. Guys are going to get injured. Any time you have guys that step in and do what they do, it just shows our depth.”
Defense is close
The Sounders defense has been stellar of late, posting two streaks of over 250 minutes without allowing a goal. Even after allowing two goals on Saturday, Michael Gspurning is still third in the league with a 0.90 goals against average. However, the Sounders could use some work on their set-piece defending. Four of their last six goals allowed have come off of dead-ball situations and while Michel single-handedly got FC Dallas back in the game, both came in preventable situations for the Sounders. Cleaning that up could make the Seattle defense even more dominant.
“You never want to squander a two-goal lead, but we knew they were dangerous on set pieces,” Schmid said. “We lost our mark on the first one and obviously Michel hits a great ball on the second and Michael (Gspurning) got tied up.”