The Sounders are finally on the board.
After starting the season with three straight losses for the first time in franchise history, Seattle finally got itself in the win column courtesy of a Clint Dempsey far-post header on a 79th-minute corner kick. The Sounders were the last team in MLS to pick up a point.
The Sounders rang the changes up front in this one after scoring just two goals in their first three games. The most significant of those was moving Dempsey into a deeper role, having him play centrally in midfield rather than out on the wing. Seattle also put Aaron Kovar into the starting lineup in place of Jordan Morris, who was coming off a heard-breaking stint with the U.S. under-23 national team.
Did the changes work? Sort of. Dempsey was particularly effective early in the game as he saw a lot more of the ball than he did in Seattle’s first three games, but then he sort of drifted back out of the action. Kovar had one nice moment early in the game, but was largely anonymous afterward and was replaced by Morris early in the second half. The Sounders didn’t create a whole lot of clear-cut chances following a breathtaking first five minutes, but they did eventually produce the winning goal, and that’s what matters most.
Defensively Seattle was solid. The Sounders didn’t have to contend with Montreal star forward Didier Drogba, who is refusing to play on artificial surfaces. That meant the Impact were heavily dependent on playmaker Ignacio Piatta, who notched three goals and two assists in Montreal’s first three games. But Seattle’s midfield and defense did a good job of keeping Piatta quiet.
This game seemed destined for a 0-0 draw until the Impact started taking silly fouls around their own penalty box starting in the 76th minute, possibly because of fatigue. That gave the Sounders a series of set pieces. One of those was headed away for the corner that ended up producing the game’s only goal.
MAN OF THE MATCH
This is a new section, and as far as I can tell there’s no official Man of the Match, so I guess it’s up to me to choose one. I have to go with the man who gave the Sounders their first win of the season. Dempsey seemed more comfortable playing centrally than he did on the wing, and although he saw his effectiveness diminish as the game wore on, it didn’t prevent him from scoring the game-winning goal. I also have to give a nod to Seattle midfielder Osvaldo Alonso, who was his usual destroyer self in a defensive-midfield role, as well as Montreal center back Victor Cabrera, who was calm and collected throughout.