SEATTLE – It was just a couple of weeks ago that Seattle Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said that by the end of the year, he expected the forward pairing of Eddie Johnson and Fredy Montero to be one of the most dangerous combinations in the league.
If they keep playing like they did Wednesday night, Schmid may have to move up his timeline.
Johnson scored his second goal in as many games and Montero scored a sure-fire Goal of the Year candidate when sent a right-footed blast screaming past LA Galaxy goalkeeper Bill Gaudette from about 35 yards out.
“I don’t think it’s going to be the last time you see us play a game where both Eddie Johnson and Montero score in the same game,” Schmid said following the 2-0 win over LA. “I think this is the first of a few that are going to go that way.”
Each forward’s goal was encouraging for different reasons. For Johnson, whose goal came on a snap-header from the penalty spot off a cross from Mauro Rosales, it was an example of how his game might not be all flash-and-dash after all.
“That’s what we’re looking for – a forward that has speed, a forward that can play with his back to goal and can hold up the play,” Schmid said. “His first touch is pretty good, he’s technically pretty sound and I think his game is going to get better.
“He just needs to continue to get games,” Schmid added. “and the understanding is going to get better.”
Montero’s goal was just as important, but perhaps more from a psychological standpoint. The Sounders’ all-time leading goalscorer entered the game seemingly snake-bitten, having had numerous good scoring chances turned away this season.
Up until his wonder-strike, it had been much of the same against the Galaxy on Wednesday. Montero had missed twice from close range – one from point-blank on a chance created by Johnson – and had been flagged offside, which negated an earlier goal.
“I’m a striker and I know how it is,” Johnson said of Montero. “You can have all the ability in the world – if you go one, three, five, six games without scoring, you start to second guess yourself from a psychological standpoint, and you start to forget about how good you are in front of the goal.
“He’s put himself in some good positions on the field, he’s been unlucky in a few games,” Johnson added. “Special players score goals like he did today, and it says a lot about his ability.”
Montero, too, seems to appreciate what Johnson brings.
“It’s getting better every game that we play together,” Montero said. “Everybody knows Eddie is a really good player – really fast – and we can use that speed. He’s opening space and for the team it’s very important. For me, that’s good to play with him. Right now, we are playing great.”
Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com and SB Nation.
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