SEATTLE — With a victory Wednesday, Seattle Sounders FC exorcized some demons that stretch back a few years. And with one wondrous strike off of his right foot, Fredy Montero took care of a more recent drought.
Seattle knocked off the Los Angeles Galaxy 2-0 in front of 39,002 Wednesday night, earning its first victory over the Galaxy in league play since 2009, and its first ever home win over L.A. in an MLS game.
Eddie Johnson, one of Seattle’s biggest offseason acquisitions, opened the scoring in the 40th minute, then Montero punctuated the victory in the 48th minute with a 35-yard laser that is an early candidate for MLS goal of the year. The goal was the first of the season for Montero, Seattle’s leading scorer during the franchise’s first three seasons.
Montero has had many chances in recent games, and could have easily scored twice in the first half, but just when it seemed like nothing was going right for him, he let loose an audacious shot from long range that set off a party at CenturyLink Field, and a wave of relief over Montero.
“It feels really good,” said Montero, who followed his goal with a summersault, then sat on the turf soaking up the moment. “That means a lot for me, the first one, and hopefully I can score more.”
The goals by Montero and Johnson, though significant to both players individually — Montero because it was his first in seven games this year, and Johnson because he is still trying to prove himself after missing Seattle’s first four games with injuries — gave the Sounders a victory that carries more meaning than an early season win usually does.
The Galaxy are not just the team that every MLS team is trying to dethrone having last year won the MLS Cup as well as the Supporters Shield — the award given to the team with the best regular season record — they are also a team that has made a habit of making life miserable for Seattle for most of the past two seasons.
In its inaugural season, the Sounders actually fared well against the Galaxy, playing to a 1-1 draw in Seattle, then winning in Los Angeles. But since that 2009 victory, Seattle has lost three of its four regular season games against the Galaxy, including a 4-0 humiliation at home that led to the team offering a refund to season ticket holders. The Galaxy also knocked Seattle from the playoffs in 2010. So don’t let anyone tell you that this was just another game for Sounders FC.
“It was good to get a win,” said Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid. “It was good for us because sometimes you have a team — in Europe they call it your ‘Boogey team’ — a team that sort of gives you a problem and for some reason you can’t seem to jump over them. … L.A. was that team for us a little bit, but we always felt we had confidence that we could beat them and today it showed.”
Added midfielder Brad Evans, who has been on all of those Seattle teams that have struggled against L.A.: “It shows that we’re playing with a lot of confidence. This has been a catch game for us in years past, it seems like L.A. has had our number, but things change. … It feels good, to be honest”.
The Galaxy came to Seattle at less than full strength. Trying to rest some veterans with three games in an eight-day span, Galaxy coach Bruce Arena decided to leave star players David Beckham and Robbie Keane back in L.A. A few missing players won’t cheapen this victory, however, players said.
“No, that’s their problem,” said right back Zach Scott, who helped neutralize one of L.A. stars who did play, Landon Donovan. “I don’t care. Look at us, we’re two deep at every position. Any given day, somebody can start. I’m not he starting right back, but I don’t think teams take offense to that.”
Scott, who helped Seattle earn its fourth shutout in the past five games, though he had given Seattle a 1-0 lead in the first half when he followed up a Montero header that had been saved, but the offside flag was already up on Montero. Five minutes later, however, Seattle got a goal that counted when Johnson headed in a cross from Mauro Rosales. It was the second goal in as many games for Johnson, who came to Seattle in an offseason trade, then missed the first four games with a hamstring injury.
Montero made it 2-0 after halftime when he collected a pass just past midfield from Osvaldo Alonso, took a few dribbles up field, the pulled the trigger on a shot that found the upper corner of the net.
“I don’t think it’s going to be the last time you see us play a game where both Eddie Johnson and Montero score in the same game,” said Schmid. “I think this is the first of a few that are going to go that way.”
Goalkeeper Michael Gspurning left after the first half because of a right hip injury, allowing Bryan Meredith to make his MLS debut. Gspurning first injured his hip earlier this season but has not missed a game. Schmid indicated that the injury isn’t particularly serious: “He’s is OK. It’s that same hip sort of thing, but not nearly as bad as it was the last time. We’ll see how it is tomorrow and evaluate it tomorrow.”
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.