Injured teammates provide inspiration for Seattle win
SEATTLE — Steve Zakuani and O'Brian White would have appreciated this performance.
On an emotional Saturday night in Qwest Field, the Seattle Sounders pounced on visiting Toronto FC. The result: a 3-0 shellacking that the team dedicated to its missing players.
WATCH HIGHLIGHTS: Seattle 3, Toronto 0
“First off, I want to say to Steve Zakuani and O’Brian White that we miss you,” head coach Sigi Schmid said at the outset of the postmatch press conference. “We want you guys back with us as soon as possible. The effort the guys put out there tonight was a tribute to you as much as it was to our team.”
Zakuani and White were both hospitalized this week. Zakuani underwent surgery to repair a severe fracture to his right tibia suffered under a horrid challenge last week from Colorado’s Brian Mullan, who saw a red card on the play. The MLS Disciplinary Committee suspended Mullan for nine extra games for the tackle.
White faced an equally scary situation: a blood clot in his left leg that needed surgery to remove. It’s still not known how long both players will be out of action.
While Schmid said the team didn’t dwell on the losses during this week of training, the team did speak about playing for White and Zakuani before Saturday’s match. Substitute Roger Levesque said their presences were felt by the entire team.
“We’re looking forward to having them back at some point,” Levesque said. “They are just as much a part of this team now as they were before. It’s definitely … having them in the backs of our minds and wanting to go out and put in a good performance.”
With two of Seattle’s best attackers out, the question then turned to whether Seattle could find the net with regularity. At least against an out-of-sorts Toronto FC team, goal-scoring turned out not to be a problem. Brad Evans looked exceptionally dangerous on the right wing, tallying two goals and an assist.
On the left wing in Zakuani’s place, Alvaro Fernandez provided the first goal of the game on a header from Evans’ cross. In all, the Seattle midfield controlled the match and kept TFC from establishing any sort of rhythm.
“Yeah, we played players in different formations, different positions as well, so I think everybody had a good attitude from that standpoint,” Evans said. “Obviously, with Steve and OB, we talked about before the game kind of doing it for them so I think that was in the back of everybody’s mind. But now we come together as a team and we push forward from here.”
Evans’ performance covered the absence of Mauro Rosales, who was held out for precautionary reasons with a tender hamstring. Schmid said after the match that he expects Rosales to be ready to go on May 4 at D.C. United.
With three matches in eight days, Seattle’s depth is certain to be tested. Levesque said Seattle’s performance tonight is a testament to the talent on the roster.
“Obviously, those guys are a big part of this team and we will miss them going forward, but that’s always been a characteristic of this team from Day 1,” Levesque said. “If guys are out for whatever reason, then there are other guys who step up and do the work.”