It wasn’t exactly an offensive bonanza but the Seattle Sounders finally scored a goal and also managed to get a result in their 2015-16 CONCACAF Champions League group play opener, salvaging a 1-1 draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps at BC Place on Wednesday night.
Coming into the game, the Sounders hadn’t scored in more than 400 minutes, dating back to July 3 and had been shutout in four straight games.
On Wednesday, they finally broke through courtesy of a close-range 72nd-minute strike from Lamar Neagle -- who found himself unmarked in the Vancouver penalty box before finishing a cross from Andy Rose -- a drought-breaking goal that Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said would be a much-needed psychological step for his team to get back on track offensively.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve found the back of the net,” Schmid said after the game. “Hopefully this is a start going forward. …You want to be able to win your games at home and get a result on the road [in Champions League]. Being able to come up here and get a point is good for us.”
The fact that the goal came from Neagle was surely an especially welcome sight for the Sounders, as the 28-year-old hasn’t found a consistent run of form this year after posting a career-best campaign with nine goals and nine assists a season ago.
“After having a few years where I was continually getting better and statistically it was showing, this year has been kind of a standstill for absolutely everybody it seems like,” Neagle said. “It’s good to get back on the board and hopefully we can keep this going.”
After getting blown out 3-0 by the Whitecaps just five days ago in Seattle, the Sounders fell behind again on Wednesday, trailing 1-0 after rookie defender Tim Parker backheeled a corner kick past goalkeeper Troy Perkins.
But with Neagle’s equalizer finally getting Seattle back on the scoresheet, the Sounders now hope they will be able to parlay the momentum into the sort of consistent offensive output that they have sorely lacked in recent weeks as MLS and Champions League play move forward in August.
“A good start to the tournament for us,” defender Brad Evans said. “[The tie] doesn’t feel like a win but it still gives you a little pep going forward. Especially getting that goal, getting the monkey off our back, finally putting one away. It feels good. I think the team deserved that tonight.”
Seattle now turns its focus right back to MLS play, as they head south for a weekend matchup on the road against the LA Galaxy (4 pm ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes). The Sounders will also play at home against Orlando City on August 16 before resuming CCL play back home in Seattle against CD Olimpia of Honduras on August 19.
“We’re a team right now that’s still searching to get back into our groove,” Schmid said. “Tonight was a big step in that direction.”