This failure to convert was one of the few first half highlights. Fredy Montero changed the narrative in the second half. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Did the first half happen? Only about one-third of the highlight package of last night's Seattle Sounders 2-0 win are from that first 45 minutes. It includes "highlights" like FC Dallas player Fabian Castillo sprinting by Zach Scott and slamming the ball into the side net. There's Mauro Rosales getting two opportunities on goal from short range and somehow not finishing. There is the amazing save by Bryan Meredith, besides that the first half film shouldn't just be ignored, it should be expelled from our collective memories. In the second half the Fredy Montero show started. The man that Schellas Hyndman calls a "shark" didn't just finish his opportunities, he created them. The first goal comes from great work with the ball at his feet. Montero's little nutmeg and shimmy gave him space. His powerful blast gave the team the lead. His second goal required some physicality and spacial awareness as he was in the crowd and laid himself out to get a ball that he could barely guess would be where he needed it after a deflection.
It was not a great game from the Sounders. For only the second time this year Seattle lost the duels battle, the shots battle and the passing advantage battle. That other match? The 6-1 loss to Santos Laguna. Fortune smiled on Seattle. This wasn't a match they should win. But they did. The three points won on the night bring the Sounders to a five match victory streak, tied for first in goal differential, tied for second in total points and the leader by points per match. Even the "poor" offense is 5th by goals scored and ahead of high powered Sporting Kansas City.
Sigi Schmid was able to rest several players. Montero and Rosales only played a half each by design. Osvaldo Alonso didn't play at all, which caused some issues with how the midfield was spaced. Schmid notes that Andy Rose and Brad Evans were both a bit too deep leaving Marcelin space to operate. Meredith revealed that he prefers a faster pace game with some saves as it keeps his mind in the game.
Montero though may sum up the game the best, though asked about his lack of scoring earlier in the year.
I tried to score before, but you never can understand soccer. Now I’m scoring goals. I want to keep doing this. I’m really happy, so I will work hard like I did this week and we’ll see what happens this season.
SEA - Montero (Cato) 68'
SEA - Montero (Caskey) 71'
Seattle Sounders FC - Bryan Meredith; Zach Scott, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Jeff Parke, Marc Burch; Mauro Rosales (Fredy Montero 46), Andy Rose, Brad Evans (Servando Carrasco 77), Alex Caskey; David Estrada (Cordell Cato 65), Eddie Johnson
Substitutes Not Used: Andrew Weber, Adam Johansson, Roger Levesque, Sammy Ochoa
TOTAL SHOTS: 11 (Montero, Rosales 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (Montero 2); FOULS: 16 (Caskey 3); OFFSIDE: 0; CORNER KICKS: 2 (Caskey, Rosales 1); SAVES: 5 (Meredith 5).
FC Dallas - Kevin Hartman; Zach Lloyd, George John, Matt Hedges, Hernan Pertuz (Ruben Luna 84); Jackson, James Macelin, Andrew Jacobson, Jair Benitez; Fabian Castillo, Scott Sealy (Brek Shea 70)
TOTAL SHOTS: 15 (Castillo 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Sealy 2); FOULS: 11 (Sealy 3); OFFSIDE: 2 (Castillo, Sealy 1); CORNER KICKS: 7 (Benitez 7); SAVES: 1 (Hartman 1).
SEA - Burch (caution) 30'
SEA - Parke (caution) 42'
DAL - John (caution) 57'
SEA - Scott (caution) 75'
SEA - Montero (caution) 82'
Referee: Fotis Bazakos
Referee's Assistants: Frank Anderson, Corey Rockwell
4th Official: Abiodun Okulaja
Time of Game: 1:52
Weather: Sunny and 79 degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are
Head Coach Sigi Schmid
On five straight victories: "It’s great. Today was tough for us because it’s our fourth game in ten days, so we had a lot of tired bodies out there you know, but you try to get people through it. That’s why we tried cut the minutes for Rosales. We tried to cut Montero’s minutes as well to keep us as fresh as possible because we have another game on the weekend. But I thought our team responded well. I thought we defended well, which we’ve done all season.
"I thought Jeff Parke was superb. I thought Meredith came up with a big save at a big time for us and then obviously Montero finished two good goals. There was a lot of good work by Cordell Cato on the first goal. You know so I was pleased for him in his first game.
On three straight shutouts: "Well they work for each other you know. They get in the way. They block shots. They help each other. They cover for each other. You know they take a lot of pride in keeping things away from goal.
"I think our goalkeepers don’t have to make a lot of big saves because we’re doing a lot of saves in front of them and when they do they’re able to come up with it and do well with it. So it’s a mindset and the mindset is with our midfielders and forwards as well in terms of making plays predictable.
On second half play vs. the first: "Well I think the first half we were too stretched out. I thought Rose and Evans played too deep together and so there was a big hole there. Also Strata and Johnson are big forwards that like to stay high a little bit, so we had a big hole in the middle of midfield.
"So basically in the first half Marcelin ran the whole show and he was able to put balls to the next guy. Who then play into Castillo and people like that. And we talked about that at halftime.
"And the second half Evans pushed into that hole a little bit. Montero drops into that hole, so now all of the sudden we were able to play and connect some passes into that hole and hold the ball for longer sequences and that forced them back a little bit.
On playing Real Salt Lake this Saturday: "It doesn’t get any easier. We told our guys this was a five game grueling set. You know 5 games in 14 days and we wanted to maximize what we got. Right now we got 12 points if we can finish this set with 15 points that will be unbelievable and a tremendous tribute to the team.
"Then I probably do have to give them about two days off at the beginning of the following week. But I think that the guys battled and I think that we’ll have some fresh bodies back for our game Saturday.
"Alonso will be back. Obviously, Leo Gonzalez will be back, so that’s another player for us, so I feel pretty good. I think Fernandez should be able to go as well on Saturday; so getting those guys back helps us.
On Montero’s performance off the bench: "It was something we had to do. We talked about it before the game. I talked to Mauro and Fredy, so that was a planned sub – that Mauro would play the first half, Fredy the second and we knew we had to save him some minutes. I mean he’s played a lot of minutes this year as has Mauro recently in this stretch of games.
"Obviously when you bring that sort of quality off the bench and he’s motivated. All goal scorers are a little bit streaky and now over his last three games he’s got three goals and an assist, so he’s starting to find his rhythm.
On goalkeeper, Bryan Meredith’s night: We had a lot of faith in Bryan. That’s why we drafted him. That’s why we brought him back last year. As I said he’s a goalkeeper that I was very impressed with.
"We looked at all the goalkeepers coming out this year and we said we don’t need another one - he’s good. I think people forget about him too, because he’s very young. He’s just turned 22, so he’s not an old goalkeeper and I think he’s just going to get better and better.
"Obviously when you make a save like he did at the end of the first half, that’s a huge save. You got to be happy about that, but also happy with how he deals well with crosses.
"Coming out in traffic, he’s learned a lot from Casey obviously over the years and even from Michael Gspurning this year. Michael punches a little more, which is more of a European trademark, so he’s incorporated that into his game. We are very confidant when balls are crossed and how he deals the 18-yard box.
On Fredy Montero’s performance: "When he wasn’t scoring goals we just talked about it and we just said, ‘hey I’m not going to put any pressure on you. It will come, don’t worry about it. Just keep playing. You’re getting chances. If you weren’t getting chances than we’d talk about it and we’d worry about it.’
"He got that tremendous goal – the bomb, and that sort of like sealed him in. You could tell the next day at practice scored a couple of good goals and you could just see, okay that’s over with and that’s behind me. It’s a feeling more so than anything else.
On the win: "As a team this is our fifth win in a row, which is a franchise record for us. It’s very exciting. It was a great game. Sometimes you have to grind it out defensively, but the defense again did a great job. You have to give most of the credit to the defense for playing from minute 1 to minute 90 at 100 percent.
On diving save to end the first half: "He hit it across the goal and I don’t even know who it was. The ball just got up and kind of floated to the upper 90’s and I just did everything I could to get a little tip on it.
On stepping in to play: "It’s been fun. You’ve got to be ready to step in and done the job at any time, which sometimes makes a backup position tough. I was prepared correctly before every game and luckily I’ve been able to extend our win streak.
On the fast-paced game: "It’s different. Mentally it’s a little easier to stay tuned into the game than win you’re not getting a lot of saves on your side. You have to kind of focus a lot more this way. I had a couple of shots I had to save today, so you have to stay tuned in.
"It’s a great feeling coming off the bench. I try to do my best and do what Sigi told me and it was a big surprise for me to score those two goals and get the three points.
"Obviously when you are winning games you want to keep working and doing the same stuff. We tried to jump into the field and just enjoy the game. Try to be honest with us and try to be honest with the team and work hard for each other.
"We had a great battle today. We scored two goals and we got three points, which was super important for us.
On the second goal: "It was a little touch by the defense and the ball came to me and I just jumped and guided the ball into the net.
On the first goal: "It was a really fast play. I mean I was battling for the ball and when I got the ball I tried to fake one defender and when I looked up I was right in front of the keeper. Then I just tried to put the ball into the net. It was a goal and a big moment for me.
On coming in for the second half: "That was a decision made by the coach and obviously we are players we have to respect what he decides. He is the head coach and I’m happy to be here, so I got the opportunity to come in. I did my best and it was good to score two goals and at the end of the game we have three points.
"I tried to score before, but you never can understand soccer. Now I’m scoring goals. I want to keep doing this. I’m really happy, so I will work hard like I did this week and we’ll see what happens this season.