SEATTLE – Throughout much of the first half in their home matchup against Real Salt Lake at CenturyLink Field on Saturday, the Seattle Sounders seemed to be headed down a familiar path -- once again hoarding the majority of the possession and taking shot after shot with no goals to show for it.
In the 42nd minute, however, Harry Shipp provided some sweet relief.
The 25-year-old midfielder blasted home a deflected goal that ultimately proved the decisive tally in a badly needed 1-0 triumph, giving the Sounders their first taste of victory since a 3-0 road blowout of the LA Galaxy back on April 23.
“[The goal] was important for us to turn momentum in the locker room,” Shipp told reporters after the game. “I think it’s easy to sulk when things keep going against you and you’re not putting enough chances and everything. So, I think for us, to get three points, even though we didn’t play perfectly, going into this Portland game next week – it’s a big mental lift for us.”
It wasn't the most aesthetically pleasing of victories but Shipp’s game-winner still offered a palpable sense of relief for a Sounders squad that had gone 0-3-1 since that victory over LA, including a brutal two-game road trip that saw them get outscored by the Chicago Fire and Sporting Kansas City by a margin of 7-1.
Seattle maintained that they were playing reasonably well throughout their recent rough patch in spite of the results. Even if Saturday’s victory wasn’t the massive breakout they were looking for, goalkeeper Stefan Frei said it was still an important step forward.
“At some point, it doesn’t really matter how you’re going to score goals and get results,” said Frei. “You just have to do it. Today was a perfect example of that. We forced an error. You have to shoot and put defenses under pressure.
“We scored an ugly goal but it counts just as much as a perfect goal. So, we’re happy with that even if we probably would have liked to be up by more than just one goal.”
Seattle head coach Brian Schmetzer also said he felt as though the margin of victory could have been larger had his team taken care better care of some of the chances they created, particularly in the first half. But on a day where three points was the objective regardless of the optics, Shipp’s tally was just enough.
“We had other good, really solid looks on goal, and then we get a deflection goal,” Schmetzer said. “That’s pretty ironic from Harry.
“That was massive because then we could play from 1-0 up at home instead of 0-0 or 1-0 down or any of the other scenarios we’ve had these first 12 games of the season. So that was very vital for us to score that goal.”