TUKWILA, Wash. — There’s a new scoring king in town, and it’s only fitting he got there with some help from his predecessor.
When Eddie Johnson slammed home his 89th-minute header in a 2-1 win over Chivas USA last weekend, he set a new Seattle Sounders single-season scoring record with 13 goals. Fittingly, No. 13 came on a perfect, left-footed cross from Fredy Montero, who previously held the record with 12 goals.
Montero seemed more than happy to hand off the crown, even if it might only be temporary.
“When you are playing professional soccer for many years now, you know scoring goals is not the only thing you can do,” said Montero, who, with 11 goals and six assists so far, is having quite a season himself. “The last few years, I had to be the leading scorer for the team, but unfortunately for us, we couldn’t advance in the playoffs. Hopefully this year, with Eddie scoring goals, we can advance forward and be in the final.”
The early returns suggest the shared scoring load is paying off. In games in which at least one of them scores, the Sounders are 9-2-3.
It also marked the third time in six games that the each of the forwards had registered at least a point in the same game. The Sounders have won all three of those contests.
“It’s like any relationship in life, it takes time to get to know each other, understand each other, learn how each other plays and repetition, playing together week in and week out,” Johnson said. “We have our common goal as a team to win a championship and we know we have to swallow our pride, our ego and do what’s better for the team.
“The more touches we get amongst each other the more rhythm we get, the more confidence we get playing with each other. Everything is just gelling right now.”
The game-winner against Chivas was a perfect example of that improved understanding. As Montero pushed the ball toward the end line, he took a quick glance up and spotted Johnson making his run, which appeared to be taking him toward the near post. Just about then, Johnson altered his run by cutting back inside heading toward the middle of the 6-yard box. The cross met him perfectly in stride.
“They’ve become a very dangerous combo,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said. “I think what happens is, if an opponent concentrates on one, then the other one gets some space and gets to do his thing. When the opponent concentrates on the other one, all of a sudden it works the other way.
"Chivas concentrated on Eddie Johnson down in LA, and Montero had three. They concentrated on Montero up here, and all of a sudden Eddie had two. It’s good to have two players like that because it allows you to then spread the other team’s defense.”
For now, Johnson holds the scoring title. But maybe there’s room for two kings.
Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com and SB Nation.