SEATTLE — Despite a season full of ups and downs, the Seattle Sounders suddenly find themselves in serious Supporters' Shield contention.
They continued their rapid ascent up the Western Conference ladder thanks to their 1-0 win over Chivas USA on Wednesday, and can give a large part of the credit to Lamar Neagle.
Neagle was able to break the deadlock in the 24th minute. Marc Burch served in a beautiful curling free kick that found the forward all alone just a few feet outside the 6-yard box, giving him time to trap it off his thigh and hit a leaping kick past goalkeeper Dan Kennedy. It was Neagle’s career-best sixth goal of the season.
The goal allowed the Sounders to go into halftime feeling reasonably good about the score after absolutely dominating. Around the time of the goal, they held a 73-27 possession advantage, but had not yet forced Kennedy to make a save.
Chivas USA managed to make the possession numbers look a little better, but never were able to really test the Sounders defense. They didn't get their first corner until the 25th minute and none of their four first-half shots forced Michael Gspurning to make a save. Chivas USA's best chance came in the 80th minute when Bobby Burling placed a header off a free kick just wide of the goal post.
Chivas USA had come into the match playing some of their best soccer of the season, having claimed eight points in their last seven, their best run since starting the season 3-1-1. A big part of that successful run was Erick "Cubo" Torres, but he was held to just two shots, neither of which were on frame. It was the first time they’d failed to find net in a month.
The clean sheet allowed Seattle to run their shutout streak to 286 minutes, their longest shutout streak of the season.
With the win Seattle climbed into second in the West on 43 points, tied with the LA Galaxy but with a game in hand. They’re next in action on Saturday, when they host the Chicago Fire.
Chivas remain dead last in the West on 22 points. They’ll take the field again on Sunday when they host D.C. United.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Lamar Neagle||There were only a few moments to decide the match. Credit to Neagle for finding his.|
|2||Osvaldo Alonso||His goalkeeper wasn't busy, and his defenders weren't busy. Pretty typical Ozzie Alonso performance.|
|3||Marc Burch||Picture perfect set-piece delivery, and some decent attacking forays down the left in the first half.|