SEATTLE -- On the day they officially unveiled the banner commemorating their 2016 MLS Cup championship, the Seattle Sounders bagged their first win of 2017, riding goals from Clint Dempsey, Jordan Morris and Harry Shipp to a 3-1 romp over the New York Red Bulls at CenturyLink Field on Sunday.
Dempsey opened the scoring with a 28th minute penalty kick, while Morris added the second tally in the 66th. Shipp then added the finishing flourish in the 79th to pace the Sounders to the victory in front of 45,600 at CenturyLink – a new franchise record for a home opener.
Star forward Bradley Wright-Phillips briefly equalized for New York in the 57th minute, but the tallies from Morris and Shipp would seal the victory, Seattle’s first of the season after they dropped their season-opener to the Houston Dynamo on March 4 and drew their fixture last weekend with the Montreal Impact.
The Sounders grabbed the first-half lead after Morris was brought down in the box by New York goalkeeper Luis Robles, drawing a penalty kick whistle from referee Baldomero Toledo. Dempsey would drill home the ensuing look from the spot, taking Seattle to the 1-0 lead.
Seattle had a pair of golden opportunities to double that advantage before the first half ended, the first from Morris after the second-year striker ran onto a long pass from midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro and found himself in a one-on-one with Robles, but the Red Bulls’ goalkeeper managed to stuff Morris’ shot.
The next came shortly before the halftime whistle off a feed from midfielder Shipp found Lodeiro at the top of the New York penalty box. The Uruguayan midfielder lashed a shot that made it past Robles before clanging off the goalpost, ensuring that the contest would stay 1-0 as it headed into halftime.
The visitors would find their equalizer in the 57th, however, after Wright-Phillips got on the end of a pinpoint cross from defender Sal Zizzo and placed a perfectly weighted header past Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei.
But the Sounders would strike back in the 66th following a highlight reel sequence that started with left back Joevin Jones nut-megging Zizzo in the Red Bulls’ penalty box. Jones then left the ball off for Lodeiro, who lofted a cross that Morris headed into the net, putting Seattle up 2-1. Shipp then found the dagger in the 79th minute after a distance shot from Jones deflected off the former Chicago Fire star and into net, sealing the final scoreline.
The victory moved the Sounders to 1-1-1 on the season ahead of their next matchup, a home fixture against expansion side Atlanta United on March 31.