Sounders reap rich rewards from lineup continuity at last

SEATTLE – Lineup continuity has been good to the Seattle Sounders.

The Sounders used the same lineup as they had in the previous game on Sunday, marking just the second time they’ve been able to do that all year. The first time, they beat the LA Galaxy 4-0.

Sunday’s performance may not have been quite as dominant, but it was just as effective as Seattle beat the Portland Timbers 3-0. Fredy Montero and Eddie Johnson each scored goals with the other coming on an own goal forced by heavy Sounders pressure.

"I think we are starting to gel,” said Johnson, who now leads the Sounders with 14 goals. “Especially Fredy and I. We are starting to build a relationship that Sigi [Schmid] talked about us having at the beginning of the year.”

While the interplay between Johnson and Montero was as good as it has been all year, it was another moment that seemed to illustrate how much the Sounders’ understanding of one another is improving.

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Already leading 1-0 and pushing for an insurance goal, Brad Evans took possession of the ball on the left wing. Christian Tiffert then made a run toward the near-side corner flag, drawing Timbers center back David Horst’s attention. As Horst stepped to Tiffert, Johnson cut his own run back to the middle of the penalty area.

As soon as Johnson changed his course, Evans sent in a perfectly-placed cross that found his teammate with acres of space. Johnson calmly hit a first-time finish with his left foot to double Seattle’s lead.

“The movement from Fredy and Eddie was phenomenal tonight, so credit to them,” Evans said. “It makes it easier when they are moving and playing with each other. We talked about it before the game – if they are physical then they will win the headers and the physical duels. That makes it a lot easier for the midfielders to make plays. From that standpoint, we played to our game plan and we executed.”

Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com and SB Nation.