It won’t put an end to the grieving over the Super Bowl and the longest yard Marshawn Lynch never had a chance to pick up, but the Seattle Sounders FC did what they could to exact some revenge Sunday night.
Seattle 3, New England 0.
Soccer is not football — well, OK, actually it is, but you know what I mean — and an MLS season opener is not to be confused with the most watched single-day sporting event on the calendar. Still, I’ve got this quaint notion what whenever a Seattle team outscores a New England team, the world is a better place.
The fact Revolution owner Robert Kraft is the same Robert Kraft who controls the Patriots makes the Sounders’ victory even more gratifying, although I assume Kraft did not break any knuckles while pounding his fists in protest of the call that set up Clint Dempsey’s penalty-kick goal for Seattle.
Kraft remains as popular around New England as cream-based chowdah, but not because of anything he’s done to expose the Revs, who share the Kraft-owned Gillette Stadium with the Patriots.
The partnership has proven to be much less fruitful for soccer fans than the Sounders’ mostly amicable cohabitation with the Seahawks at the Clink. Revs crowds appear smaller than they are — they averaged 16,681 a game last season — in a stadium that seats almost 69,000.
An absence of public transportation to Gillette Stadium contributes to soccer’s status as an afterthought in Boston, where the sport still is regarded as a side dish that wasn’t ordered.
“Nearly 20 years after its launch, Major League Soccer is finally booming in America, reaching a point of unprecedented profitability, popularity and expansion — at least it is in other places,” Boston Magazine’s Kevin Alexander wrote in April. “But not in Boston. While the city’s population of hip young urbanites, immigrants, college students and soccer-crazed kids would seem ideally suited to ride the MLS wave — especially considering our collective sports obsession — the Revolution toil in obscurity. What David Ortiz eats for lunch gets more buzz than Revs playoff games.”
By contrast, the atmosphere Sunday at CenturyLink Field was playoff-game intense. Some of the electricity was generated by the marquee matchup — the Revs brought virtually the same team to Seattle that gave the Los Angeles Galaxy everything the league champions could handle in the 2014 MLS Cup — and the rest of it was provided by the Sounders, who appeared to have early answers for two issues that lingered during the offseason.
• How would veteran captain Brad Evans adjust in his move from midfield to center back? Quite well, it turned out. Evans and Chad Marshall looked like a duo that had playing side-by-side for years.
“It makes your life a lot easier when your first game at center back is next to a guy who’s a three-time defender of the year,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said, referring to Marshall. “That certainly helps you. Chad and Brad have a good relationship not only on the field (but) off it.”
• How much would the Sounders miss right back DeAndre Yedlin, who transferred to the Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premier League? Although 90 minutes isn’t much of a sample size, it’s safe to say Yedlin’s departure did not create a void. Tyrone Mears, a 32-year old who had played most of his previous 14 pro seasons in England, contributed on both ends of the field.
Mears’ perfect crossing pass to Obafemi Martins, delivered from the right corner, found the striker in stride for a header that might have qualified as a top 10 weekend highlight even without Martins’ floor-exercise celebration.
“We’ve talked about Tyrone being a good crosser of the ball,” Schmid said, “and obviously he demonstrated that tonight. He picks and chooses his moments of when to go forward, but he picked some good moments to go forward, and when he goes forward, he’s generally effective.
“Defensively, I thought he was pretty solid back there, and he helped us with our attack.”
The Sounders’ third goal demonstrated that when Dempsey and Martins are in sync, there isn’t a more potent one-two attack in the league. Martins put an it’s-just-not-fair juke move on New England goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth, who fell to his knees and was helpless to prevent Martins’ soft pass to Dempsey for an open netter in the 67th minute.
Having watched an opener broken open, the rest of the evening gave the 39,782 fans on hand a chance to chant and sing and cheer.
“We were at home, getting back in front of our crowd, and it was important to make the fans happy tonight,” Schmid said. “I think we let them go home happy.
“Not it’s just a matter of continuing our play. We’d love to win the Supporters Shield again, but that’s a long road. We’d love to win the Open Cup again, but that’s a long road, too. We want to advance in the Champions League, and we want to win the MLS Cup. All those are still goals for us.”
The best thing about Sunday? It found the Sounders on the left side of a score — Seattle 3, New England 0 — that made the world a better place.