TORONTO – The Clint Dempsey era in Seattle kicked off in winning fashion on Saturday, as a first-half goal from Mauro Rosales and an own goal by Doneil Henry were enough for the Sounders to hold off a second-half surge by Toronto FC to notch a 2-1 victory in front of 18,766 fans at BMO Field.
Seattle were able to score two goals despite registering just one shot on target during a first half in which Toronto looked less than sharp and unorganized defensively on a number of plays.
The Sounders broke through in the 16th minute when Brad Evans’ cross found Eddie Johnson at the back post. Johnson headed across the box to an unmarked Rosales, who put the ball past a helpless Joe Bendik for Seattle’s first road goal in 343 minutes.
A last-ditch tackle by Henry on Seattle forward Obafemi Martins in the 29th minute ultimately resulted in the Nigerian striker having to leave the match due to injury, with US national team captain Clint Dempsey coming on in his place five minutes later to make his much-heralded Sounders debut.
Seattle doubled their lead in the 40th minute when some haphazard defending by Toronto saw Henry redirect a cross by Lamar Neagle into the back of the net for an own goal.
Toronto stormed back to make a game of it in the first minute of the second half, when rookie midfielder Jonathan Osorio used some impressive footwork in the Seattle box to open up space for a shot that resulted in his fifth goal of the season.
TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen attempted to give his side a boost when he subbed on his leading goalscorer Robert Earnshaw in place of Andrew Wiedeman in the 56th minute. It didn’t take Earnshaw long to make his presence felt, with the Welsh striker blasting a shot off the post four minutes after coming on.
Toronto continued to press for an equalizer throughout the half, with a stellar run by Reggie Lambe in the 66th minute almost ending with Seattle central defender Djimi Traore tipping in an own goal to match Henry’s.
But although Toronto dominated possession down the stretch, Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid’s decision to bring on Shalrie Joseph in place of Rosales late in the second half added just enough steel in the midfield to enable Seattle to close out the match. TFC striker Jeremy Brockie had an excellent chance for a equalizer from close range during extra time, but Sounders keeper Marcus Hahnemann stood tall and made a game-saving save.
With the loss, Toronto saw their undefeated streak stall at three games while Seattle earned their fifth straight win against TFC and stretched their own undefeated streak to four matches.
Seattle will be back in action on the road next Saturday against the Houston Dynamo. Toronto will also go on the road next Saturday to take on the Columbus Crew.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Mauro Rosales||Someone had to provide a moment of class to get the game going, and Rosales was on the job all night.|
|2||Jonathan Osorio||The rookie keeps showing why people in Toronto are high on him. With five goals, he's in the ROY race.|
|3||Marcus Hahnemann||Was tested often, but came up big when the situation called for it late and controlled his 18 all night long.|