SEATTLE — When their big guns are firing, the Seattle Sounders are for real. And capable of putting up big numbers against MLS's top teams.
Behind two goals and an assist from Eddie Johnson, a goal and an assist from Lamar Neagle, and a late strike from Obafemi Martins, the Sounders beat FC Dallas, 4-2, in front of 38,979 at CenturyLink Field.
The match was every bit as wild as the scoreline suggests. In addition to the Sounders' scoring four goals in back-to-back matches for the first time in franchise history, the match featured a rare "Olimpico" -- a goal scored directly from a corner kick -- from Dallas first-year sensation Michel, a red card to FCD's Blas Perez for an elbow that bloodied Sounders defender Leo Gonzalez, and a stunning goal-line clearance from Dallas' London Woodberry.
The result extends Seattle's unbeaten streak to six matches and their winning streak to three matches. It's the first time they've won three in a row since May 2012. They remain in 6th place in the Western Conference, outside the playoff zone, but have two games in hand on 5th-placed Colorado.
On the other side, the loss, only the second suffered this season, breaks FCD's nine-match unbeaten streak. However, they still have the best record in MLS and will hold onto the top spot in the West no matter how the LA Galaxy do on Sunday in New York.
Entering the match, Dallas had not conceded a goal in the first half this season. That changed as the Sounders, who thumped defending Supporters Shield winners 4-0 last time out, bristled with confidence from the opening kick and opened the scoring in the 16th minute.
Midfielder Osvaldo Alonso won a header at midfield that sailed back over the Dallas defense. Johnson outmuscled Woodberry, created enough space to get a clean look, and hit a half-volley past Raul Fernandez for his third goal of the season.
The Sounders had a golden chance to add another goal when Brad Evans raced in on a breakaway down the right sideline totally unmarked. But Fernandez rushed out to block the low, hard shot.
In the 30th minute, Evans played set-up man with a through ball to Neagle, who timed his run perfectly to beat the Dallas offside trap. Neagle, unlike Evans, made no mistake, running in free, rounding Fernandez, and sliding the ball into an empty net. It was Neagle's third goal in two games.
A minute later, however, the joy of a two-goal lead was tempered when Alonso was forced off after straining his groin. There was no indication as to how serious the injury may have been.
Shalrie Joseph replaced Alonso, and minutes later Dallas came inches away from pulling one back before halftime. Perez, who is currently mired in a four-game scoring drought, knocked a header off the inside of the far post. Eric Hassli's rebound shot from six yards was then blocked by a Sounders defender.
As action-packed as the first half was, it proved to only be the tip of the iceberg.
OPTA CHALKBOARD: Total domination from Sounders
Behind some brilliant set-piece work from Michel, Dallas seized the momentum and pulled level. First, in the 54th minute. the Brazilian midfielder served with a perfectly placed freekick from the right side that an unmarked Kenny Cooper easily headed home to make it, 2-1.
Seven minutes later, Michel pulled off one of the rarest feats in the game, an "olimpico," whipping a corner kick up and over the outstretched arms of Gspurning and into the far side netting. Although from the other side of the field, it was reminiscent of Thierry Henry's "Olimpico" from last year.
But before the crowd could appreciate what had just happened, the Sounders re-took the lead. Neagle cut across the top of the Dallas area and slid a clever pass through to Johnson. EJ calmly dribbled around Fernandez and struck home for his second goal of the night and 4th of the season.
The goal sapped Dallas' momentum, and it was further extinguished when Perez was shown a red card for a stray elbow in the 72nd minute that opened a gash in Gonzalez's face and forced him to the sideline for a few minutes to change his shirt and clean himself up. Referee Mark Geiger initially showed the card to Jair Benitez, but corrected the error quickly.
Martins finally put the game away, scoring his third goal of the season, in the 83rd minute.
The Sounders next travel to face the Galaxy on Sunday, May 26. Dallas return home to host the San Jose Earthquakes.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Eddie Johnson (SEA)||Two well-taken goals, one assist, and finally showed the killer form that wowed everyone last season.|
|2||Lamar Neagle (SEA)||A goal and an assist, he proved again that he is capable of filling in when big names like Martins and Rosales are unavailable.|
|3||Michel (DAL)||He scored an "Olimpico." That alone deserved a MotM mention.|