Seattle Sounders players and coaches said it time and again: Once rookie Jordan Morris broke through with his first goal, others would follow in bunches.
They seem to have been right about that, as Morris scored his third goal in as many games Saturday to send the Sounders past the Columbus Crew, 1-0, at CenturyLink Field.
Now the Sounders believe something similar might be happening to them collectively, as the team has gotten 10 points out of its last five games.
“We needed a goal like that today, a goal like that this year,” midfielder Cristian Roldan said. “I think our luck is starting to come, and hopefully it just continues.”
Morris’ goal came in the 88th minute of a match that had been active and entertaining, but scoreless. Left back Joevin Jones played a ball to forward Oalex Anderson, who had subbed on about a minute earlier. Anderson fired on target. Columbus goalkeeper Steve Clark blocked it, but he didn’t control it. The rebound went to Morris.
“I ran up and hit it,” he said. “I think it went off their defender and went in. It was exciting. I was lucky to be at the right spot at the right time.”
It’s funny how that tends to happen with goal scorers. And Morris always has been one of those. That is, until that uncomfortable pause over the first five games of his MLS career. But that drought ended two weeks ago with the winner against Philadelphia, then again last week with Seattle’s lone goal at Colorado — and then again Saturday.
Just like that, Morris is the goals leader on a suddenly hot team.
“Each game when you don’t score and you’re feeling more and more pressure, it kind of eats at you when you’re playing,” Morris said. “Then you get your first one — this is the life of the forward — you can go out there and play a little freer and with more confidence, and then goals like the goal that happened today kind of come, where you just happen to be in the right place at the right time.”
Veteran forward Herculez Gomez jokingly took some credit.
“I told him if at any point of the game you don’t know what to do, just put it in the back of the net,” Gomez said. “He’s done pretty well.”
The real wonder was that Morris’ goal was the only one of the match. The teams darted up and down the pitch from the start. Both coaches agreed Columbus (2-4-2) had the better control of the first half, while Seattle (3-4-1) took over in the second.
In the end, the teams divided possession 50-50, and each took 16 shots.
“Entertaining game, I would say, for everybody,” said Stefan Frei, who stopped the four shots Columbus put on target. “Maybe not so much for the goalkeepers. It’s nerve-racking. But I’m happy obviously to keep the shutout and get the ‘W.’”
That bottom line was crucial, coach Sigi Schmid said. Yes, it meant a couple of useful extra points in the standings. But Schmid had set a goal of sweeping this ongoing two-game homestand, and this result kept that hope alive.
“It’s a big difference,” he said. “We wanted to get wins at home, and so we got another win at home now. I think it was a good game from the standpoint of our character, staying with the game. With the exception of a few plays, I thought we did a good job defensively as well. (Columbus is) one of the better teams in the league in terms of their movement off the ball. Obviously getting three points is huge.”
The Sounders return to action Saturday, May 7, when the San Jose Earthquakes visit.
Game in review
SOUNDERS 1, COLUMBUS 0
The bottom line: Late in a game characterized by plenty of missed chances from both teams, Jordan Morris finally broke through to give Seattle a 1-0 win over the Columbus Crew before a crowd of 39,473 at CenturyLink Field.
The goal: In the 88th minute, Joevin Jones sent a pass to Oalex Anderson, who put a shot on target. That shot was saved — but the rebound went to Morris, who finished.
Key stats: The Crew and Sounders shared 50 percent possession, and each took 16 shots.
Notes: Coach Sigi Schmid went with his eighth different lineup over eight games. Brad Evans was out due to disciplinary suspension, while Nelson Valdez and Erik Friberg recovered from injury enough for reserve roles, but not start. Schmid went with Herculez Gomez, Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris as the forwards, Aaron Kovar at midfield, and Zach Scott at center back. Scott also took the captain’s armband from Evans. … Valdez subbed on for Dempsey in the 78th minute. Schmid said the move was made only as a precaution in Dempsey’s return from a groin injury. … Seattle has gotten points from four of its last five games.
Quote: “We were better in the second half overall, and I thought we were justly rewarded with a goal. I thought we had some good options. Even though shots on goal were equal, there were a lot of times when we were hitting crosses that the goalkeeper wasn’t collecting, or slipping through his hands or balls were (going) through the 6-yard box.” — Schmid
Next match: 7 p.m., Saturday May 7, CenturyLink Field.