The Seattle Sounders started the season by digging themselves into an 0-3 hole.
Saturday, in their ninth game, they climbed their way back to even with a 2-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes at CenturyLink Field.
Like all of even their positive results this season, nothing came easily and style points were few. This time they benefitted from a couple of friendly bounces off of posts, including one on a penalty kick Chris Wondolowski missed for San Jose.
But the Sounders also know some bounces went against them during their rough start, so they’re fine with things evening out a bit during the current turnaround.
“We’re happy with the win,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “The objective of this homestand was to get six points, and to get six points and to get two wins and to start climbing the ladder again, which we were able to do. You’ve always got to have a little bit of fortune, so when Wando missed the penalty — hit the post — but (goalkeeper Stefan) Frei had saved the last one, maybe that was in Wando’s mind. I thought at times tonight our soccer was as good as it has been this season.”
Between the fortunate and the hard-earned, the Sounders somehow find themselves one of Major League Soccer’s hottest teams, 4-1-1 over their last six matches.
And on Saturday, the guys who made the difference were the guys who were signed to be difference-makers. Goals from designated player Clint Dempsey and homegrown Jordan Morris. Newly healthy Erick Friberg serving as the straw that stirs the drink in the middle of the pitch.
Frei made the only save he was called upon to make, as the woodwork cleared up a couple of other threats from the Quakes (4-3-3).
Dempsey provided the opening goal in the 36th minute, his second of the season. The play began with Aaron Kovar muscling a ball out of the corner to Jordan Morris, Morris touched it on to Friberg. He carried toward the end line before crossing it back to Dempsey, who finished from eight yards.
Morris provided the insurance in the 89th minute running onto a ball in space and smacking it in from the top of the box. That ran his goal-scoring streak to four games, tying a Major League Soccer rookie record. Four goals also ties the club’s rookie goals record set by Steve Zakuani in 2009.
“I thought we played very dangerous when we were effective,” Schmid said. “We had the lead in the game deservedly. It was a good goal. Great to see Jordan get a goal as well. There were bits and pieces where it still needs to get better from us, but there were also some pieces tonight I thought were very good.”
The Sounders continue on in the Western Conference next weekend when they visit FC Dallas.
Game in review
SEATTLE SOUNDERS 2, SAN JOSE EARTHQUAKES 0
The bottom line: Sigi Schmid set a goal of six points from this two-game homestand, and he got it as his team added a 2-0 win over San Jose to their win over Columbus last weekend. The Sounders controlled most of the game without really being able to put it away until the final minutes. And they benefited from a couple of Earthquakes shots that took friendly bounces off of the frame.
The goals: 36th minute: Clint Dempsey fires in his second goal of the season, assisted by Erik Friberg and Jordan Morris. 89th minute, Jordan Morris runs onto a ball in space at the top of the penalty area and drove it home.
Player of the match: Erick Friberg was in the middle of everything for his 70 minutes of action. The significance of his early season absences due to injury may not have been fully appreciated.
Key moment: In the 85th minute, San Jose goals-leader Chris Wondolowski sent what would have been an equalizing penalty kick off the bottom of the left post, following a call on Seattle’s Tyrone Mears.
Key stats: Morris scored in his fourth straight game, tying the MLS rookie record. He also tied Steve Zakuani’s club record for goals by a rookie. … San Jose goalkeeper David Bingham made six saves. Seattle keeper Stefan Frei made one.
Notes: The Sounders are 4-1-1 over their last six matches to move to .500 on the season at 4-4-1. Friberg made his first start for Seattle since March 12. … San Jose midfielder Mathias Silva got his first MLS start. A year ago he was playing high school soccer.
Next match: At FC Dallas, 6 p.m. Saturday, Frisco, Texas; Fox 13.
Quote: “I thought at times tonight our soccer was as good as it’s been this season.” -- Schmid