[HTML1]Seattle Sounders FC survived the first half of Clint Dempsey’s suspension just fine on Sunday, taking a 2-0 win over the Montreal Impact at Olympic Stadium.
With their highest-paid player sitting out the first of a two-game suspension handed down by the MLS Disciplinary Committee, the Sounders scored on an own goal, another by designated player Obafemi Martins, and then made that stand up as goalkeeper Stefan Frei recorded his second shutout of the season.
“We knew they were a team that lost their first two games,” veteran defender Djimi Traore said. “That could have affected their confidence. We knew that if we came here and scored early, it would put even more pressure on them. That’s what we did.”
Seattle moved ahead in the eighth minute when Gonzalo Pineda sent a free kick into the penalty area and onto the head of Lamar Neagle. Neagle’s flick went off the crossbar and down onto goalkeeper Troy Perkins, where it deflected in for an own goal.
Neagle initially was credited with the goal, but it was later ruled on own goal.“To get is on a set play, it’s usually what you kind of want to do,” Neagle said. “When you’re an away team: Take your time on set plays and make the most of them. And we did that.”
The Sounders doubled their lead in the 58th minute when Neagle carried a ball from midfield to near the top of the penalty area, where a cross was deflected. However, Kenny Cooper ran it down just ahead of the end line and chipped it back across the goalmouth where Martins headed it home.
The Sounders had several other chances on the large Olympic Stadium pitch. In the 17th minute, Martins put a header on goal that was one-handed away by Montreal keeper Troy Perkins. In the 32nd minute Neagle knocked one onto the left upright. In the 80th minute, Traore put a bicycle kick on target, but it was handled by Perkins.
The match was the home-opener for Montreal, which fell to 0-3-0 on the season. An announced crowd of 27,702 turned out for a match that had been postponed 24 hours due to snow accumulations on the stadium roof.
With Dempsey out due to suspension and midfielder Brad Evans not ready after suffering a calf injury the weekend before, coach Sigi Schmid tweaked his lineup into a 4-3-3 formation with Neagle, Martins and Cooper up top.
“We wanted to sit back a little bit, so I knew we were going to absorb some pressure,” Schmid said. “We were trying to get forward on the counter, and I figured we could create some chances like that.”
Once the club moved two goals ahead, midfielder Michael Azira came off the bench for his MLS debut, forward Cam Weaver of Kent made his Sounders FC debut, and veteran defender Leo Gonzalez made his season debut after missing the first two games with a groin injury.
“It shows we have a good squad,” Traore said. “We were missing players like Clint Dempsey and Brad Evans, but we have other players that can come in at any time and do the work.”
Seattle also debuted its new alternate kits: black jerseys with neon-green trim and shorts.
The Sounders (2-1-0) returns home this week and will meet the Columbus Crew (2-0-0) at 7 p.m. Saturday at CenturyLink Field.
Sounders win it 2-0 with an own-goal after a Lamar Neagle shot and a goal by Martins. Second shutout by Stefan Frei.
I'll add quotes in new posts above.73' Welcome back Leo Gonzalez, who comes on for Lamar Neagle.
66' Cooper out, Azira in as Sounders' Charleston connection continues.
58' GOAL Sounders. Martins header after great hustle/cross from Cooper. Sounders 2-0.
Second half: ... has begun.
Halftime: Sounders 1-0.
Eighth minute: GOAL Sounders. Pineda free kick to head of Lamar Neagle off crossbar and down and in. Might yet be scored a goal kick, but 1-0 Seattle in any case.
First kick: ... has been struck. We're under way. Montreal in blue/blue. Sounders in their new "pitch black" alternate kits: black/neon green.
Lineups: For Sounders: GK Frei;D Remick, Traore (C), Marshall, YedlinM: Pineda, Alonso, RoseF: Neagle, Martins, Cooper.Reserves: Hahnemann, Anibaba, Gonzalez, Azira, Pappa, Okoli, Weaver.
(Among the guys who missed training time due to injury, Marshall starting, Gonzalez on bench, no Evans, no Bowen.
For Montreal: Perkins; Miller, Camara, Ferrari, Brovsky; Bernardello, Bernier (C); Warner, Felipe, Mapp; Wenger. Reserves: Crépeau, Lefèvre, Ouimette, Pearce, Mallace, Smith, Gonzalez.
Pregame: The Sounders will play their first road game of the season at 1 p.m. at Montreal's Olympic Stadium. The game will be shown on JOEtv Channels 10/110 on my system) , heard on the usual radio outlets, and blogged here with additional notes, updates and comments on Twitter @donruiztnt.The Sounders will debut their new "pitch black" alternate kits.
I'll be back with lineups as they become available.