By Don Ruiz The News Tribune
SEATTLE — A rare one-game week allowed Seattle Sounders coach Sigi Schmid a chance Saturday to let all of his of his rested roster’s stars shine.
And shine they did, leading Seattle to a 2-0 win over Cascadia Cup rival Vancouver before a crowd of 55,710 at CenturyLink Field.
The goals came from Eddie Johnson and Fredy Montero, their 11th and eighth of the season, respectively. Mauro Rosales notched his 10th assist. Michael Gspurning got his eighth win in his 11th MLS start, along with his fifth shutout.
“I always get a special joy when there’s a Montero goal and a Johnson goal,” Schmid said. “I think it substantiates what we’re trying to do with those two guys. And when you start adding it up now, they’re starting to get to a place where they’re probably one of the best three-four combinations in the league in terms of goal production.”
The first goal came from Montero in the 64th minute, less than three minutes after he had checked in off the bench.
Rosales sent a free kick into the penalty area, where Jeff Parke chested it down to Montero. He nudged the ball into position and sent it back to the far side, past Vancouver keeper Joe Cannon.
Schmid said Montero would have been in the starting lineup except for missing Friday’s training session while excused for a family matter.
“It wasn’t a punishment or anything,” Schmid said. “He just missed a practice and we wanted to make sure that his mind was clear when he went into the game — which he was. We’re not going to turn him into Super Sub or the 12th-man of the year or anything like that — even though he does well when he comes off the bench. As we’ve always said, goal-scorers are streaky a little bit.”
Montero’s scoring streak now has reached three consecutive league games.
In the 87th minute, Johnson settled the issue by tapping in a pass from Brad Evans as it rolled across the open goal mouth.
“The easy ones are the hard ones sometimes,” Johnson said. “It can go wide, it can go over the goal, you mis-hit it. I made that run and I was committed to the whole play. All credit to Brad: I just had to get on the end of it.”
Johnson and Montero’s combined 19 goals tied them as the No. 4 tandem in MLS, behind San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski and Steven Lenhart (25), New York’s Kenny Cooper and Thierry Henry (24) and Los Angeles’ Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan (20), and even with D.C. United’s Chris Pontius and Maicon Santos.
“For a forward it’s all about rhythm,” Johnson said. “The more that we can get touches and the more we can play with each other and growing in understanding on the field, it was just a matter of time. … The second part of the year (Montero) always finishes strong. It’s good. The more we can get different guys scoring, the team’s going to be better off.”
The result moves Seattle moves to 11-6-7 and past the Whitecaps (10-9-7) in the MLS standings.
The Sounders also moved to 1-1-1 halfway through this Cascadia Cup competition. Portland is 1-0-1 and Vancouver 0-1-2.
Finally, the win helped the Sounders ease the memory of the difficult 1-2 punch suffered last week when they lost the U.S. Open Cup on penalty kicks and a league match at San Jose in stoppage time.
“We showed today a big character in front of our crowd again,” Gspurning said. “We didn’t start well today to be honest. But after 30 minutes we took more and more control of the game. We knew that we had to keep pushing and we would score. And if we keep the zero behind them, and we score one, and then for sure we win.”
Aside from a reserve game today, the Sounders will take three days off from training before returning Wednesday. Their next match is Saturday at Chivas USA.