By Don Ruiz The News Tribune
SEATTLE — The Sounders survived a wild looping roller-coaster ride of a night Saturday.
Up two goals, then back to even, Seattle finally closed things out with a 4-2 win over league-leading FC Dallas before a crowd of 38,979 at CenturyLink Field.
“It was a crazy soccer night, an awesome soccer night,” goalkeeper Michael Gspurning said. “Great victory again; and a great sign to the league … that we are back in business.”
Seattle (4-3-3) sensed its attacking players could have success against Dallas, and it played out that way. The Sounders fired a club-record 11 shots on goal. The four that went in came from the usual suspects: Eddie Johnson scored two, moving him to a club-leading four on the season; while Lamar Neagle and Obafemi Martins each scored their third goals.
“Being able to measure ourselves against the first-place team in our conference is important,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “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. … We’re trying to use our speed, so at times we’re a little more direct. We also knew this was a team we could be direct against – that we could get behind them centrally – and we did that often in the first half.”
The Sounders’ first goal came in the 16th minute, when Osvaldo Alonso got his head on a goal kick at midfield, sending it back toward the Dallas end. Johnson ran it down between two Dallas defenders and finished.
Seattle struck again in the 30th minute, when Neagle got behind the Dallas back line and ran onto a pass from Brad Evans. Once inside the box, Neagle dribbled past Dallas goalkeeper Raul Fernandez and rolled the ball into an open net, increased Seattle’s lead to 2-0.
“It goes back to hard work,” Evans said. “The guys put it in, and the guys were hungry. Most of those goals – especially the first one from Eddie – were made almost from nothing. It was just hard work and determination to get to the ball first and finish your chance.”
But then Dallas caught up in a span of about seven minutes. In the 54th minute, Kenny Cooper steered a header inside the right post. Then Michel curved a corner kick over Seattle keeper Michael Gspurning and directly into the goal.
“You don’t 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 got tied up. But the timeliness of our third goal was vital.”
The goal that sent Seattle back into the lead to stay came about a minute later, when Johnson ran onto a pass rolled in front of the Dallas goal. With only Fernandez to beat, Johnson bought space with a faked shot and then finished past the out-of-position keeper.
Back to a one-goal advantage, Seattle added a one-man advantage in the 73rd minute when Dallas’ Blas Perez received a straight red card after an apparent elbow sent Sounders defender Leo Gonzalez out of the game with blood streaming down his face.
Seattle settled things in the 83rd minute, when Obafemi Martins scored after a pass from Evans, who had rebounded a saved shot by Johnson.
The 4-2 win, combined with the 4-0 win over San Jose the week before, marked the first time the Sounders had scored four goals in back-to-back games. Eight goals over two games matched a club record. The result also extended Seattle’s unbeaten streak to six games, while ending a nine-game unbeaten streak by Dallas (7-2-3).
Casting some shadow over the result for Seattle was a groin injury suffered by Alonso in the first half. The club had no prognosis on his return, nor was there word if Gonzalez would be ready by May 26, when the club returns to action at Los Angeles.