Persistence pays off. Ask the Seattle Sounders’ Harry Shipp.
Shipp had taken five shots on Sunday before finally getting one to go in, but the sixth one was a biggie: It was the deciding goal in the Sounders’ 2-1 victory over Atlanta United at CenturyLink Field.
“I should’ve scored at least one in the first half, Shipp said. “At halftime I was pissed at myself and I told myself the next chance I got ... and luckily, I redeemed myself a little bit and got the team a win.”
Shipp’s third goal of the season capped off a wild 13-minute stretch that saw both Seattle (10-5-5) and Atlanta (9-3-8) score creative goals after a 50-plus minute deadlock.
Having played five of the last six MLS regular season games and the U.S. Open Cup match vs. Portland, Shipp’s role expanded because of injuries or absences to players playing in the Gold Cup or Copa America. Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer appreciates having Shipp to be able to plug in when midfielders Nico Lodeiro and Cristian Roldan unavailable.
“Steady, always steady,” Schmetzer said. “I always know what I’m getting with Harry when he steps on the field. For coaches, that’s a comforting thought so when Harry fits in through and injury or a tactical adjustment you wanna make. When he came on in our last match, I thought he sparked that. Whether it’s injuries, tactical adjustments or whatever, I know what I’m getting with Harry and today he was rewarded with a goal.”
Sunday’s game was a showcase between two of the last three MLS Cup Champions and two of the league’s most recent expansion success stories.
The Sounders got the game’s first goal and in the 58th minute, bringing the crowd of over 38,000 to their feet with an exciting goal by Raul Ruidiaz. It was Ruidiaz’s team-high seventh goal of the season.
Kelvin Leerdam’s throw-in found the feet of Roldan, who passed the ball to Ruidiaz, who was entering the box. He used some fancy footwork to escape the approaching Atlanta defense, squeeze of a shot and give Seattle a 1-0 advantage.
“He absolutely earned that goal,” Schmetzer said. “He had the technical ability, the awareness, the savvy. Once he got around the final guy he finds the goal and the goalkeeper and puts it into the back of the net. That was not an easy goal and he made it look easy.”
Seven minutes later, Atlanta tied the game. A corner by Pity Martinez found an unmarked Josef Martinez in the box who converted into his 13th goal of the season. For Josef Martinez, was his 63rd in the last two and a half seasons of MLS play.
But Shipp’s goal in the 71st minute gave Seattle its first victory over Atlanta in three tries and moved the Sounders to in second place in the MLS Western Conference. Seattle, with 35 points, now rails just LAFC with 46 points.
The win also provides some momentum for a Sounders team that had been hampered by absences due to injuries and international competitions and facing two more games in the next week. On Wednesday, the play an international friendly vs. Borussia Dortmund and then next Sunday, it’s off to Portland.
“I think for us, using this as a springboard for the Portland game will be huge and I think you put less pressure on yourself and you go into that game with a little more confidence,” Shipp said. “You have this aura about you and things are starting to fall into place. You aren’t pressing as much as compared to coming off a loss, having that mentality that you don’t need to score every chance and things are falling for us is a big difference.”