By Don Ruiz The News Tribune
After losing a two-goal lead Saturday, the Seattle Sounders just went out and built another, turning that into a two-goal victory over the top-ranked team in MLS, FC Dallas.
Goals suddenly are coming fast and furious for a club that opened the season with great difficulty scoring any at all.
Seattle scored two goals over its four MLS matches in March, and added one goal over two games in April. While producing at that half-goal-per-game clip, the club got off to a 1-3-2 start.
However, the Sounders have erupted for 11 goals over their four games so far in May — including a club-record-tying eight over their last two matches.
The most recent outburst came in a 4-2 home win against FC Dallas, when the Sounders also set a club record with 11 on-target shots.
Ten of Seattle’s 14 league goals have come from three players: four from Eddie Johnson and three each from Obafemi Martins and Lamar Neagle. That trio combined for all four goals Saturday, with Johnson providing the brace.
“With the emergence of Lamar right now, with Eddie playing as he’s playing right now, with Obafemi coming in — that’s three goals in three games for him — we’re a handful up front,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “If you’re center backs and you lose sight of our forwards for a second, they’re going to be running behind you. That’s what we expected when we signed Obafemi.”
Martins was signed one game into the season as the club’s third designated player. And while international duty and injuries have limited his minutes on the pitch, he’s made the most of that time: His average of 1.32 goals per 90 minutes is tops among MLS regulars.
“When I first came I said I wanted to score a lot of goals, and it’s happening now,” Martins said. “I hope it continues to be like this.”
The production of Martins and Johnson was expected when the front office was assembling this roster. Both are forwards with experience on their national teams and with club teams in Europe. Last season, Martins had seven goals for Levante in 21 La Liga matches, while Johnson led the Sounders with a club-record 14 goals, sixth in MLS.
Meanwhile, Neagle has exceeded most expectations in his third season as an MLS regular. Given a chance at playing time due to injury and international duty among the projected starters, Neagle seems to have earned a spot on coach Sigi Schmid’s first-choice lineup, whether at forward or dropping back to midfield when Johnson and Martins are available.
“He’s done well everywhere we’ve put him,” Schmid said. “… He’s played on the flank for us before, that’s where he’s done it, but he’s done well for us up front. As the season goes on, we know there’s time we’re going to miss Eddie (to duty with the U.S. national team), so he’s definitely a major alternative for us up front.”
Seattle returns to MLS play Saturday at the Los Angeles Galaxy.