The Seattle Sounders wanted to get younger and more athletic this season.
On Wednesday, they flashed what youth and athleticism can do.
The Sounders got their first road win of the season, 2-0, over D.C. United at RFK Stadium. And the guys who got the goals were Jordan Morris, the 21-year-old homegrown forward, and Joevin Jones, the 24-year-old blur acquired from Chicago in an offseason trade.
The game had been scoreless and largely listless for its first 73 minutes. Then coach Sigi Schmid sent Jones on to replace 32-year-old midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz.
“He definitely changed the game for us,” said midfielder Cristian Roldan, 20. “I thought Joevin played well. He was explosive — that was something that we lacked. And he had a little bit of fresh legs. I thought it was good for us.”
The Sounders shifted into a new gear almost instantly. About five minutes after being subbed in, Jones made a run down the left side and played the ball off to Morris, who returned it. Jones fired from about 10 yards, but goalkeeper Bill Hamid batted it away. The rebound went to Morris near the penalty spot, and he knocked it past Hamid.
“I just kind of took a touch and hit it and it went in,” Morris said. “I knew they were coming and I knew I had to get it off quick. I was happy to see it in the back of the net.”
Four minutes later, Osvaldo Alonso intercepted a United pass and quickly found Jones at the top of the area. Jones let the ball run a bit before pulling the trigger just ahead of the charging Hamid.
Jones has started at left back in 10 of Seattle’s 13 games this season. He hasn’t started all of them because he sometimes frustrates his coach. Schmid didn’t explain his reasoning in picking Dylan Remick ahead of Jones on Wednesday, simply noting that Jones was available as a reserve in the back or at wing.
“I still think he’s an outstanding attacking left back,” Schmid said. “I just think Joevin has so much talent, I always want more. Maybe I’m greedy. Today he gave it to me.”
So did Morris, who leads the team with five goals and set a club record for goals by a rookie.
That left it to a much more age-diverse group in the back to protect the lead. Contributing to the clean sheet were goalkeeper Stefan Frei, 30, who stopped the one shot United (4-6-4) put on target; Remick, 25; Brad Evans, 31, who returned from concussion protocol; Zach Scott, 35 who left in the 40th minute with an apparent leg injury; Tony Alfaro, 22, the rookie forced into action for the second consecutive week; and Alonso, 30, midfielder and straw that stirs the defensive drink.
“I thought the back four was solid,” Schmid said. “But Alonso I thought was a beast on defense.”
The win came at an exceptionally good time for the Sounders, who don’t return to league play until June 19 due to a league-wide break during Copa America Centenario.
“The break is good,” Schmid said. “Obviously going into the break makes everybody sleep a little better and enjoy their break a little more.”
Game in review
SOUNDERS 2, D.C. UNITED 0
The bottom line: Seattle gets three important points on the road, a more threatening place in the standings (5-7-1) and a far better taste in their mouths going into a 17-day break in their Major League Soccer season.
The goals: 79th minute: Jordan Morris finished a rebound after a Joevin Jones shot was batted away by D.C. goalkeeper Bill Hamid. 83rd minute: Jones does his own finishing this time, assisted by Osvaldo Alonso.
Sounder of the match: Jones subbed on in the 74th minute and immediately set up the first goal before scoring the second.
Key stats: DC outshot the Sounders 15-14, but Seattle put eight on target to United’s one. Possession hasn’t always been a good indicator this season, but Seattle won that too, with 53.7 percent.
Notes: It was Morris’ fifth goal of the season. That extends his team lead and sets a club record for goals by a rookie, passing Steve Zakuani (2009). … Dylan Remick started in Jones’ usual left back position. … Centerback Chad Marshall (hamstring) was held out once again. His replacement, Zach Scott, left late in the first half with an undisclosed injury. He was replaced by rookie Tony Alfaro, in his second professional appearance. … Former Sounder Lamar Neagle of Federal Way played the first 64 minutes for D.C.
Quote: “It was a very short pregame talk. I said there’s no better feeling than working together, working hard, and coming away with success. That was the whole pregame talk.” — Seattle coach Sigi Schmid.
Next match: MLS pauses for Copa America Centenario. The Sounders will enter the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup against the Kitsap Pumas at 7:30 p.m. on June 15 at Starfire Sports Stadium. They return to league play June 19 at the New York Red Bulls.