Facing difficult circumstances, the Seattle Sounders found the key to beating the New England Revolution, 2-1, on the road: Fredy Montero.
Following a midweek Champions League match in Guatemala and ahead of the US Open Cup final on Tuesday, the 24-year-old striker struck twice to give Seattle a third consecutive victory in MLS play. The result keeps pressure on the LA Galaxy in the race for the Supporters' Shield as it prevented the West leaders from clinching the trophy later in the evening.
“I don’t think it was a fun game, or a beautiful game, but it was the result we needed,” Montero said of Saturday's win. “We are happy about that.”
With the Open Cup final against the Chicago Fire at CenturyLink Field looming, Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid opted to deploy several reserves. The right side of the Sounders patchwork formation was especially green: Roger Levesque started his first MLS game at right back while David Estrada made only the second start of his MLS career at right midfield.
The inexperience was evident early as Kasey Keller (six saves) needed to come up big early to stabilize his team, but he was helpless on New England’s first goal.
Before the match, Schmid said he wanted his team to cut back on the concession of early goals. Diego Fagundez’ strike certainly falls into that category as the 16-year-old found himself unmarked as he headed home a corner kick from short range. However, the goal seemed to be a wake-up call for Schmid’s team.
“This team has a lot of character and in the last couple of games, it seems that once the opponent scores, we wake up and play a little bit better," Schmid said. "I thought in the first half we were pretty sluggish.”
Though Seattle did improve their play after a shaky first 30 minutes, they owe their first goal to a New England mistake. Ryan Cochrane misplayed a back pass, opening the door for Montero’s 10th MLS goal of the season.
However, it was some alert play from Montero that gave Seattle their second goal, and having secured his team a 2-1 lead, the Colombian was pulled from the field in the 68th minute.
Schmid had said he wanted to rest his star as much as possible with a cross-country flight still facing Seattle before the USOC final.
“We were looking to get somewhere between 45 and 60 to 70 minutes out of him, and then get him off the field,” Schmid said. “He rewarded us with two goals.”
“Hopefully he’ll carry that form into Tuesday’s Open Cup game,” Schmid added.
Seattle’s victory helped Seattle maintain its stellar road form. Across all competitions, the Sounders are 6-0-1 in the past seven matches. That undefeated away record will stand for at least a few weeks. Tuesday’s Open Cup marks the first match of a four-game homestand.
Andrew Winner covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com