Seattle Sounders coach Sigi Schmid says he doesn’t yell as much as he did when he was a younger man. But he yelled Saturday.
Schmid’s first-place Sounders fell behind last-place Chivas USA — twice — in the first 20 minutes. So when he got his team into the locker room, he had a few things to say about giving up too many goals in general and specifically falling behind early for the fifth consecutive game.
“We’re frustrated with that, and that’s something we addressed at halftime,” Schmid said. “I’m older, so I don’t tend to be very loud at halftime. Maybe I was a little louder today. But it’s something that we know has got to get better.”
Eventually, it did. The Sounders held the Goats scoreless for the final 72 minutes and emerged with a 4-2 win before a crowd of 38,713 at CenturyLink Field.
“I thought he was spot on at halftime,” Seattle defender Jalil Anibaba said. “He kind of gave us a little kick that we needed, and obviously in the second half we were awesome.”
The win moved Seattle (18-9-3) back alone atop the Major League Soccer standings, at least until Los Angeles plays New York on Sunday evening.
The result was dotted with individual achievements.
Forward Obafemi Martins scored twice, establishing a club record with 15 goals on the season. Former striker Eddie Johnson set the previous record of 14 in 2012.
And when Clint Dempsey added his 13th goal just before halftime, Martins-Dempsey became the highest-scoring tandem in club history, topping the previous high of 27 combined goals by Johnson and Fredy Montero in 2012.
“They look for each other,” Schmid said. “They know where each other are on the field. When one has the ball he knows where the other one is, and when the other has the ball he knows where they are. And the thing is they move for each other off the ball, and they have confidence and trust each other.”
Seattle needed that firepower, as Chivas (6-18-6) broke ahead 1-0 in the 12th minute and 2-1 in the 18th minute.
The first goal came against the run of play as Felix Borja worked his way into the penalty area and fired. Goalkeeper Stefan Frei made the save, but the rebound went to Erick Torres, who finished into the open net.
Martins equalized two minutes later, assisted by Marco Pappa. But the tie lasted only four minutes.
Then Chivas moved ahead again with a length-of-the-pitch counter that climaxed with a shot banging off the crossbar to Torres, who sent it back across the goalmouth for Anibaba to nudge in for an own goal.
“It was frustrating,” Frei said. “I think we were in control of the game, and maybe we got a little complacent defensively and let them slip through a bit easily maybe. But we also got very unlucky on bounces. I was able to get hands on all of them, but they bounced straight to their guys, so unlucky. We know we have firepower up top, but obviously we can’t rely on them all the time.”
On this day they could, as the Sounders scored the final three goals.
The next equalizer came from Federal Way native Lamar Neagle, his eighth goal of the season, matching his career high from last year.
In first-half stoppage time, Dempsey put the Sounders ahead on an assist from Martins.
The clincher came in the 51st minute, Martins again, this time assisted by Neagle.
That 18th win matches the club record set in 2011.
“I thought we showed character in terms of coming back twice from being down,” Dempsey said. “We just need to do a better job of shoring things up in the back. But I’m happy with the win and continuing our form at home and keeping our position at the top of the table.”
The game ended a run of five games in 16 days from the Sounders.
That pace eases from here, with one game per weekend for the final four weeks of the season. Next up is an Oct. 5 visit to Colorado.