By Don Ruiz The News Tribune
SEATTLE — Chivas USA and Sounders FC were paired for the second time in two weeks on Saturday.
In that earlier meeting, the hero was Fredy Montero, who scored three goals. On Saturday, Eddie Johnson scored two – including the game-winner in the 89th minute – and set the club’s single-season goals record along the way as Seattle came from behind for a 2-1 win at CenturyLink Field.
After trying to outscore the Sounders in the first meeting, the Goats tried a more defensive strategy in the rematch.
“Each game takes on its own personality,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. “Obviously, they played a lot more defensive here.”
There were other differences.
When the clubs met Aug. 25 in the Los Angeles suburb of Carson, Calif., the Sounders led wire to wire on the way to a 6-2 win. On Saturday, they came from behind.
Chivas went ahead in the eighth minute when a string of passes ended with Nick LaBrocca beating Seattle goalkeeper Michael Gspurning from about 12 yards.
The Sounders battled back and in the 28th minute Johnson headed in a goal from Christian Tiffert’s free kick.
“Tiffert’s a great deliverer of the ball, and I was just trying to get on the end of it,” Johnson said. “We practice who’s running to the first post, second post, third post and set picks to each other and try to get between gaps at attack the ball. That was just a well-delivered ball.”
The clubs went scoreless for the next hour, although both had chances. Brad Evans hit a post for the Sounders. Tristan Bowen skimmed the crossbar for Chivas. Referee Kevin Stott overlooked what the Sounders believed was a handball in the box by Chivas’ Miller Bolanos.
Seattle’s game-winner came in the 89th minute, when Johnson drove in another header, this time on a Montero cross.
Johnson’s record-breaking goal, his 13th of the season, dealt another blow to the playoff hopes of Chivas (7-12-7), which remained eight points behind the fifth and final playoff spot in the West.
Seattle (13-6-8) moved past Real Salt Lake and into second place in the West, six points behind league-leading San Jose.
The Sounders’ next game comes Saturday at Portland.
“We want to put ourselves in a position to win a Cascadia Cup, but also want to put ourselves in a position to solidify second place,” Schmid said. “We want to put ourselves in a position where if San Jose falters, we’re right there and they know it.”