The absolutely crazy up-and-down nature of this season was almost perfectly captured by this game. The ups involved Obafemi Martins scoring his fourth goal of his Seattle Sounders career to lead the team to a much-needed 2-0 win over Chivas USA. That sent the Sounders home just a couple points out of playoff position with a couple matches in hand.
Those facts alone would suggest the mood should be high, especially in light of all the tumult this team has gone through over the season's first three months.
Of course, we know better. Not only did Martins get a totally undeserved red card, meaning he's likely to miss the Sounders' next game unless he's able to win an appeal, but the Sounders also lost Osvaldo Alonso to another injury. Even in a best-case scenario, he's almost guaranteed to miss the Sounders' next game.
For the sake of not going crazy, though, let's focus on the positives for at least another day.
The biggest one had to be the play of Martins, who looked every bit as dangerous as you'd expect of him in a game against a team like Chivas USA. He scored one goal and easily could have had a couple more if he was just a little sharper. He also started to show signs of a good pairing with Lamar Neagle, something that could come in handy if Eddie Johnson continues to get called away on national team duty.
Neagle, too, had another solid performance. The pass he made to Martins to set up the goal was absolutely sublime, as it showed a great understanding of where Martins was going to be.
While it's tempting to overlook the play of the Sounders defense, as Chivas USA looked largely disinterested, they deserve credit for making that the case. The Goats weren't credited with a single "big chance" and Michael Gspurning had a relatively easy day in picking up his fifth shutout of the season, all of which have come in the past eight matches.
The best news from a big-picture perspective, though, is how the season looks after the upcoming international break. Even after the home game against the Whitecaps, the Sounders will still have 11 home games remaining and plenty of chances to make a late run
SEA - Obafemi Martins (Lamar Neagle) 22'
SEA - Own Goal (Mario de Luna) 33'
Seattle Sounders FC - Michael Gspurning, DeAndre Yedlin, Zach Scott, Djimi Traore, Leo Gonzalez, Mauro Rosales (David Estrada 76), Osvaldo Alonso (Andy Rose 21), Servando Carrasco, Mario Martinez (Marc Burch 77), Lamar Neagle, Obafemi Martins.
TOTAL SHOTS: 9 (Martins 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 2 (Martins 2); FOULS: 18 (4 players, 3); OFFSIDE: 1 (Martins 1); CORNER KICKS: 3 (Rosales 2); SAVES: 4 (Gspurning 4).
Chivas USA - Dan Kennedy, Walter Vilchez (Tristan Bowen 70), Joaquin Velazquez, Bobby Burling, Mario de Luna, Eric Avila, Carlos Alvarez, Oswaldo Minda (Marvin Iraheta 63), Gabriel Farfan, Jorge Villafana, Jose Correa (Miller Bolanos 61).
Substitutes Not Used: Jose Manuel Rivera, Carlos Borja, Patrick McLain, Steve Purdy.
TOTAL SHOTS: 11 (3 players, 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (4 players, 1); FOULS: 22 (Farfan 7); OFFSIDE: 1 (Vilchez 1); CORNER KICKS: 5 (Alvarez 4); SAVES: 1 (Kennedy 1).
SEA - Mauro Rosales (caution) 36'
SEA - Obafemi Martins (ejection) 71'
CHV - Gabriel Farfan (caution) 75'
Referee: Ricardo Salazar
Referee's Assistants: Ian Anderson, Jeff Hosking
4th Official: Jesus Cisneros
Time of Game: 1:50
Weather: Sunny and 80 degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial
SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC HEAD COACH SIGI SCHMID
On the team's performance: "I don't think we played brilliant. I thought we did what we needed to do in order to win the game. Our first goal was well-taken. Obafemi [Martins] finished his goal well. I thought the second goal, I mean, wow, but then I thought we should have had a third over Obafemi's header off of [Mauro] Rosales's cross. Then we had a couple of opportunities in the second half where we started to get close as well, so I thought we did okay. I don't think it was our best soccer for the year, but we did enough."
How the red card changed the team strategy: "I thought our character was good. We got up in the first half, 2-0. We started off the second half a little bit slowly, but I thought that we were really getting into the game. We were getting close and getting some chances. At [the expulsion] point the game changed and we had to roll up our sleeves and just work to get out of here with a 2-0."
On the adjustments made during the match: "It was good. I felt the back forward worked really hard, all the guys did their job. Obviously, losing [Osvaldo] Alonso, Andy Rose had to come in and battle and play. We made a couple of subs trying to keep our wide players fresh because we knew that they would have to work a lot at the end. The character and the effort were really good tonight."
SEATTLE SOUNDERS MIDFIELDER MAURO ROSALES
Thoughts on the match: "I think that we handled the game during the 90 minutes and luckily we scored early. I think this was a game where we could have controlled more and had scored more goals, but the important thing is that we achieved getting three points. The important thing is that we are still in the fight."
Confidence after losing in Open Cup: "Now our main focus is on the season. It's the only competition that we are playing in and we have to give it our all. We have to prepare well for each game and always try to do our best."
On coming away with points on the road: "It is always important to sum up points when we are on the road. We are a strong team playing at home and we also need to take advantage of that, but yet again, winning points on the road is always something good."
SEATTLE SOUNDERS FORWARD OBAFEMI MARTINS
Thoughts on the game: "It is a good win. We needed the three points really bad and we got them. We just had to win today."
Thoughts on the goal: "Lamar [Neagle] gave me the first touch and after I touched the ball like two, three times I decided what I was going to do. The goalkeeper didn't really move. [Dan Kennedy] just stood there. I decided what I was going to do and it was a good goal."
On his red card: "It was the referee's decision and there isn't anything I can do about it. For me, I didn't do anything. I was trying to get up and get the ball back. The midfield screamed and the referee looked at [Gabriel Farfan] and gave me the red card."
CHIVAS USA INTERIM HEAD COACH SACHA VAN DER MOST
On the game: "It was a bad result, but I think we gave up the two goals [to Seattle]. The team's effort was very good and we are happy for that. But obviously when you lose like this, you can't be happy. We have the experience, we worked well, but we need to work more. We only had two days to train using this new system so we just need to continue working on it."
On the effect on the team due to coaching changes: "It's a moment where the team just lost their coach and the coach had a good relationship with a lot of the players. On the other hand, they also understand that when the results are not going their way, changes happen. We had great support from the players and reacted very well to what we wanted to do. I thought both training sessions went very well. I was lucky to have a great staff, all Youth Development coaches. It's a positive experience for us working this way because we know that we can work together at a level like this."
On what went on tactically with the team: "Defensively we gave up the two goals. First we had Burling falling short coming back and then on the second goal, obviously there's not much we can say about it. We didn't have the effort to change the game. When you receive two goals, it's very hard to come from them. We had a lot of opportunities but we weren't able to finish. Tactically, we changed the system. We went from a 3-5-2 the team used to play to a 4-3-3 and defensively a 4-5-1 in just two days. The team and the players wanted to play the system but we didn't have enough effort in the midfield."
On what he will change for next game: "I'm not in the position to make any changes right now or to talk about changes. This was just one game. [Head Coach Jose Luis Real Casillas] arrives tomorrow and he knows what he's going to be doing with the team moving forward. From our end at the Youth teams, we are going to be supportive of the first team and the club. In the second half, we were making a stronger effort and we pushed forward a little bit more. However, we weren't able to finish and to score any goals."
CHIVAS USA DEFENDER MARIO DE LUNA
On the own goal: "It was a centered pass. My teammates let me know that I was alone. At that moment I wanted to bring it down off my chest. The lights blinded me a bit, and once I had the ball upon me I tried to head it back. I didn't have time to react and it went in."
Thoughts on the match: "We wanted to come away with the three points. Unfortunately, we didn't come away with the result we wanted. We have to keep working. We don't have a league match next week but we will keep preparing for our next match [on June 12 in the U.S. Open Cup]."
On the support the fans have shown the team: "We want them to keep believing in us. We are very grateful to them. They have supported us even though we know that the results have not come. They keep coming to the stadium to support us and at no time do they boo us. Little by little the results are going to come. We're going to keep moving forward."
CHIVAS USA GOALKEEPER DAN KENNEDY
Thoughts on the game: "I don't think we played off our pitch tonight. It's not like we walked out there and we were completely out-classed. The past six weeks, all of our games have come down to three or four plays. Whether it's in my defensive box or it's in our attacking box. You work that hard for 90 minutes for those three or four important plays and we've just been on the wrong side of it. I think it's important because we have a new group that we have to have this strong mentality. Fortunately, I do believe we have a great group of guys in here and that's what is holding us together now."
On the own goal: "He knew he was by himself, we communicated. I thought he was going to chest it to me, he lost the ball in the lights and his reaction was with his head. It's one of those things that is such a fluky play that sometimes maybe more often than not, that happens and it goes out for a corner kick and it's no big deal. But instead it catches us both by surprise and it's in the back of the net."
On his role with the club: "I got to be the goalie here. This is my job. Every day I walk out on the field and I feel like I could make a massive impact on the training session and a massive impact on the game. I feel like I could influence this team in the right direction. I know in times like this, a lot of the guys come in here and look at me for some guidance and hopefully I can give them some of my experience. It's a tough job, but I'm definitely up for the challenge"
CHIVAS USA MIDFIELDER JORGE VILLAFAÑA
Thoughts on the match: "We started off well with the new formation. Unfortunately, errors again cost us the game. We know we have to work on those mistakes. It's those errors that keep hurting us even though we are displaying good soccer. [The coaching staff] implemented a good system for us to execute. It was effective, even though we didn't get the result we look forward to what comes next."
On the team's performance: "All the players gave one hundred percent tonight, and more. I think everyone saw that. That's why it gave the team a different look people were talking about. The group has that commitment. We just have to come out sharper and not commit those same errors that are costing us games. We need to keep improving and improving and work on what we are lacking."