The last time the Seattle Sounders won a game that really inspired any kind of confidence was when they beat the Vancouver Whitecaps 3-2 back on June 8. This game, a 2-1 win over Chivas USA on Sunday, had a lot of similarities. There was the come-from-behind nature of the win, the ability to generate a sustained offense and pretty good defensive play aside from some isolated moments.
Of course, it was against Chivas USA, a team that has won only one of its last 16 games. But the Sounders are in no position to be questioning who results come against as long as they get them.
It should be said that the Sounders have a bit of troubling trend building at home. Although they've managed to go unbeaten in eight straight (which ties a franchise record) they've either blown the lead or had to come from behind in four of their past five. It's a good sign that they've managed to still go 3-0-1 in those games, but I'm not sure that's a sustainable way of doing it.
But let's focus on some of the positives since those have been so hard to come by recently. The biggest revelation may have been Brad Evans as a center mid. While I don't think Servando Carrasco was the problem in the past and don't know that Evans is the perfect answer going forward, he does provide something no one else has this year. Even at his best, Shalrie Joseph didn't get forward a ton and Carrasco just isn't a great offensive player. Evans at least stretches defenses with well-timed runs and is capable of filling that gap between the midfielders and the forwards.
Along those same lines, we also saw Obafemi Martins playing more of a playmaker in this one. Martins managed to find a decent balance between dropping back into the midfield while still getting on the end of some passes. It's probably not the most effective way to use him, but he clearly has a good passing touch and this might be a way of accommodating both he and Eddie Johnson.
Lamar Neagle was also extremely active, even if it wasn't always effective. Neagle was able to create several chances and did well to pick up his fifth goal of the season, but there continue to be questions as to how often he runs at defenders and how rarely it's effective. If he's to be the long-term answer as an outside mid, he'll need to clean up that part of his game.
This was definitely a game that the Sounders can build off. Suddenly, they are just four points out of a playoff spot with at least two games in hand on every team ahead of them. A win on Saturday against FC Dallas would change the picture immensely.
SEA - Brad Evans (Obafemi Martins) 23'
SEA - Lamar Neagle (Mauro Rosales, Obafemi Martins) 57'
Seattle Sounders FC - Andrew Weber, DeAndre Yedlin, Djimi Traore, Patrick Ianni, Leo Gonzalez, Mauro Rosales (David Estrada 78), Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Marc Burch (Servando Carrasco 84), Lamar Neagle, Obafemi Martins (Zach Scott 90+3).
Substitutes Not Used: Doug Herrick, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Dylan Remick, Eriq Zavaleta.
TOTAL SHOTS: 20; SHOTS ON GOAL: 8; FOULS: 10; OFFSIDE: 3; CORNER KICKS: 5; SAVES: 2.
Chivas USA - Dan Kennedy, Mario de Luna, Carlos Bocanegra, Carlos Borja, Marky Delgado, Carlos Alvarez, Edgar Mejia (Josue Soto 65), Garbriel Farfan (Julio Morales 55), Jorge Villafana, Tristan Bowen, Erick Torres (Jose Rivera 82).
TOTAL SHOTS: 8; SHOTS ON GOAL: 3; FOULS: 16; OFFSIDE: 1; CORNER KICKS: 6; SAVES: 6.
SEA - Djimi Traore (caution) 14'
CHV - Tristan Bowen (caution) 69'
SEA - Patrick Ianni (caution) 71'
Referee: Kevin Stott
Referee's Assistants: Colin Arblaster, Chris Strickland
4th Official: Jesus Cisneros
Time of Game: 1:53
Weather: cloudy and 63-degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial
Sounders FC vs. Chivas USA - Postgame Notes
* Sounders FC extended its home unbeaten streak to eight games (5-0-3), matching the club record. The eight-game home unbeaten streak is the second-longest in MLS this season (10; Dallas, San Jose and Vancouver).
* Sounders FC earned its first win of the season when allowing the first goal, improving to 1-7-1. The only other time this season that Seattle earned a point after allowing the first goal was last week versus the Colorado Rapids (July 20). The last time Seattle won a regular-season match when allowing the first goal was a 2-1 home win versus Chivas USA on September 8, 2012.
* Seattle is unbeaten in its past 10 MLS matches (6-0-4) against Chivas USA.
* The goal marked the second of the season for Brad Evans, and first since March 30 at Real Salt Lake. Evans is fourth all-time with 15 MLS goals for Sounders FC.
* Lamar Neagle scored his fifth MLS goal of the season, matching his career-high from 2011 and also setting a new career-high with 13 points (5 goals, 3 assists). Neagle now has 10 career regular-season goals for Sounders FC, becoming the seventh player in club history to score 10 or more goals.
* Sounders FC is 7-0-0 when Obafemi Martins scores (6) or assists (3), and he recorded multiple assists for the first time in his MLS career.
* Mauro Rosales recorded his team-high fourth assist of the season, and his first since May 11versus the San Jose Earthquakes.
* Marc Burch made his third straight start at left midfield. The last time Burch started three consecutive regular-season matches was at the end of the 2012 season (vs. RSL on 10/17; vs. DAL on 10/21; at LA on 10/28).
* Defender Patrick Ianni made his first competitive appearance of the 2013 season. His last appearance was 49 minutes in a 2-1 home loss to the San Jose Earthquakes on September 22, 2012. Ianni started six of seven MLS Reserve League matches this season.
* Goalkeeper Andrew Weber made his second straight start and third appearance overall this season. His three games played and 225 minutes in MLS this season matches his career high, set last season with Seattle. The win marked the first in six matches (five starts) with Sounders FC.
* The attendance of 38,463 marked the 78th straight sellout for Sounders FC.
Sounders FC vs. Chivas USA - Postgame Quotes
Sigi Schmid - Sounders FC Head Coach
(On the match...) "Obviously I'm happy with the character we showed going down 1-0 and coming back to win the game. I thought we created more chances today again, so it was good. I thought our possession was a little better as well. I thought we knocked the ball around fairly well. This is a team [Chivas] that has improved themselves defensively. Last week they won playing a man down at home. They went, I think, into Montreal and got a tie there. So they are a team that plays things close. They played it close today, as well. A little unlucky with Brad [Evans] I guess being offsides on that third one. It would have been nice to get the third one. I'm pleased with our performance. I thought it was an upgrade over how we played last week and we have got to continue to concentrate on just playing good soccer."
(On Brad Evans...) "The thing with Brad is he will play a little more attacking in that position and close that gap behind the forwards where Servando's [Carrasco] tendency is to play a little deeper. So Brad gets a goal as a result of that. The run forward later in the game, then we have to encourage Brad to stay a little bit so we can lock it up a little bit. He made one run where he ran past both forwards looking for a ball and there's only 15 minutes to go in the game. So there he has to make a little bit more of a conservative decision. But that was the reason we made the change because we thought Brad could give us more things going forward from that position."
(On Evans playing in central midfield...) "Obviously we had to push him [Brad Evans] wide thinking that Shalrie [Joseph] was going to get more minutes there. With his injury taking as long as it is, we need Brad in the middle because Brad and Ozzie's [Osvaldo Alonso] combination, they have got a lot of games together so there's an understanding that's there. It's also there strengths play off of each other a little bit better."
(On Lamar Neagle...) "Lamar was good. I thought his energy was good in the first half. We took him out mainly because we thought he was getting tired at that point [...] A player like him is always going to cheat offensively at the right times, and he started to cheat at the wrong times. I thought he put in a good shift today."
[Editor's note: all or part of the preceding quote was likely in regards to Mauro Rosales, not Lamar Neagle]
(On the substitutions...) "I was thinking about, as we got into injury time depending on how it went, going with five in the back. So I was either going to take Neagle out or Martins, and just stay with one up front and just go into a 5-4-1 just to finish it up, bring Zach [Scott] in to help us in the air in the back. When Oba went down with a knock it just made sense to make that change."
(On Mauro Rosales...) "Obviously he always wants to be involved in goals and assists and it's good for him to get an assist today and get off that mark. But I thought he got us into some good positions. He laid some good balls off. He made some final passes for us today, and that was important."
(On the importance of getting a win...) "It was three points. Whether the score line was 2-1 or 3-1 or 1-0, doesn't matter as long as it was three points for me. I was pleased that we played better soccer today and that was the emphasis before the game, 'Let's not worry about the W, the W will take care of itself. Let's go out and play good soccer and be immersed in the game. Let's be focused, let's have our full concentration level.' And I thought we had that for the majority of the game. I know the goal we gave up, Djimi [Traore] held up his hand on that, thought he botched up that play. We made one mental mistake, I thought, towards the end of the first half when we played a short free kick in injury time and almost caused ourselves some problems there. Outside of that, I thought mentally we were pretty good tonight and we were pretty alert and we were in the game, which is important."
(On Lamar Neagle's progression this season...) "We were expecting to see Lamar Neagle, who left here. I think his year in Montreal for him ended up being a little bit of a lost year. He wasn't comfortable, he played a little bit on the wing and so forth. His first game here, he seemed off with his touch and everything else. Slowly and gradually his confidence has grown. We always felt that Lamar was the type of player, whether we play him on the wing or up front, that he can be dangerous and he can score. The one where he cut in tonight and hit that right-footed shot that made Kennedy go to his left was a good save. He can do things like that coming from the flank. He's given us what we expected-that's the reason we made the trade to bring him back. I think he's most comfortable here in Seattle, so that helps him play better."
(On if this was Neagle's best game in a while...) "Yeah, I think so. He did a better job holding up the ball and connecting again. That's something we've been talking a lot about this week, that he's got to do a good job with his hold up play and complete his passes in and reduce his turnovers."
(On USA's win over Panama in the Gold Cup final...) "Obviously for the USA a good win. I thought Panama played it pretty close to the vest early on, did a good job of pakcing it in and defended well. For the US, it's always a great accomplishment to win a Gold Cup. It was a good thing they won because Jurgen [Klinsmann] was in jail, so he needed to get out of jail."
(On the importance of getting three points...) "It was an important three points especially because of how the results went this weekend. The results for us were very favorable, with the teams ahead of us in the standings all losing, with the exception of Colorado. So we have those three points and games in hand, but the games in hand don't mean anything unless you get points. Now we have to go out next week and get three points again on our homestand, get a new record for undefeated streak at home...if we get three points we'll start making up that gap."
(On the home field advantage at CenturyLink Field...) "Teams come in here and it's a motivating factor for them. I've said that before. On the same token, it's also a motivation for us. Especially when we go down one-nothing, our crowd stays behind us as we started creating chances, started picking up the tempo of the game. Then the guys started feeding off the energy of the crowd and it became important for us, and that's a big reason why we were able to come back."
Patrick Ianni - Sounders FC Defender
(On the result...) "We're just happy to get the win tonight; hopefully we can keep this rolling. We'll take care of our bodies this week and get ready for Dallas."
(On the start...) "It felt good. I played a few reserve games to prepare me. I got my feet underneath me and my foot's feeling good. I thought all the guys fought really hard tonight and we're happy with the victory."
(On winning and having games in hand...) "It feels great. We've got games in hand and we've got to take advantage of them and get up in the picture-- into a playoff spot. We'll just take it one game at a time to get us back into it. That's what we've got to do."
Lamar Neagle - Sounders FC Forward
(On coming from behind...) "Yeah, you know there was a difference when we went down this time. We had confidence; we know as a group right away that we could get it back. We had a lot of play and we knew that we could get a couple goals."
(On his goal...) "Good buildup by everybody, and then Oba [Martins] taking it down the line, getting a cross to Mauro [Rosales] and Mauro barely getting a touch on it perfect to me, and I just put it back where it came from."
(On playing with Neagle...) "Yeah, we've played together for a little while and we kind of know each other's tendencies now. A couple of passes went astray but that's always going to happen when we're trying to pressure and get in behind."
(On getting the three points...) "It's huge; we've got those games in hand but they don't mean anything if we don't get the wins-especially at home. This is a huge win for us."
Brad Evans - Sounders FC Midfielder
(On coming from behind...) "Yeah I think it shows a lot about our character fighting back from 1-0 down and the goals were going to come tonight. It was just a matter of time. We were playing at home. We have a lot of pride playing in front of our fans. It's about time we got a victory in front of them."
(On his goal...) "It was a good battle of possession, some good passing and Oba [Martins] found me slipping through the middle. First time shot and luckily beat Kennedy."
(On withstanding pressure and gaining possession...) "We withheld the pressure pretty well but they're a good team and they know how to pass the ball. They're very technical, so that's kind of what we expected from them. We're a dangerous team on the counter attack; there were a number of times where we got the ball forward and put ourselves in dangerous situations but just weren't able to finish. But you get two goals and you should win a game, and we got two goals."
(On the win...) "I think with the results yesterday and obviously our result tonight that pad gets a little smaller; those points get a little bit smaller. It's not just a two horse race anymore. There are six or seven teams that are fighting for five spots. So, we do our best and next week we get back out there."
Andrew Weber - Sounders FC Goalkeeper
(On his leaping save in the 29th minute...) "The guy crossed it in, he came to the near post and beat our guy there, hit it, and I reacted and got my hand on it. I think it hit the crossbar-I had no idea where it was. I thought, 'Please go over,' and it went over. So I was like, 'Okay, not bad, let's keep going.' It was good."
(On bouncing back after last week...) "It's nice to bounce back and have a good, decent, clean game. It feels good."
(On the significance of the win...) "I think it's good for us. We got three points, we need to keep building on our performance. We could have gotten probably a few more tonight, but we keep building on this and keep moving forward. I think the momentum is returning a bit, I think the guys are getting energized again, and I think we're going to have a great second half of the season."
(On going down a goal to start...) "It happens. We've been there before. We showed great character tonight coming back and tying it up, then going and getting the second. I think we're on a eight game streak not losing at home, so it's nice."
Jose Luis Real - Chivas USA Head Coach (via translator)
(On the game ...) "There were two parts to the game. In the first half, Chivas couldn't have gotten a better result, in my opinion. In the second half, however, we played differently. The performance differed from the first to the second half and that's the reason why we couldn't get this game going."
(On what the difference was in the second half ...) "I believe that during the second half we lost a lot of the balls and the possession of the ball. That was the main defect that we had."
Dan Kennedy - Chivas USA Goalkeeper
(On Chivas' performance tonight...) "We had a great start to find the back of the net, go up one-nothing, and then you know, we knew that they would respond. Unfortunately, I think we were just trying to ride out the game to halftime and they got one back, gave them a little bit of momentum. But all in all, we did a really good job with our defensive shape. They have - their midfield and forwards move really good off the ball and their outside backs do well to get in the attack, so you have to deal with a lot of numbers, a lot of decision-making. I thought we did relatively well. In the second half, when they came out, they were definitely sharper than us, created better scoring opportunities than we did in the second half. They capitalized on one of those. At 2-1, we still had some half-chances at goal, but in the end it just wasn't enough."
(On what they could have done differently to have a better result...) "I think we definitely could have dealt with both ... You always look at the goals. Those are the big, important parts of the game. To have a guy run out of midfield and score a goal is never a good thing. I thought on the second goal, we had a chance to make a play before the ball got crossed and we were a little too patient on it. Still, I think we're moving in the right direction and these games always come down to one or two plays and tonight we were on the short end of that."
(On what it meant to him, personally, to have made his 100th MLS appearance tonight...) "I mean, it's a nice accomplishment I guess, but to me it's not all that important. Hopefully I'll get plenty more games in and it's just something to build on I guess."
Chivas Forward Erick Torres
(On the performance of Chivas USA tonight...) "I think that the team had a good game. We never started hiding. Obviously we need to continue working hard and analyze what we did wrong and build on it."
(On scoring his second goal in the MLS and the only goal for Chivas tonight...) "I'm very happy to have been able to score my second goal in MLS. I've only been here for two games, so I was happy to be able to collaborate and help the team. Unfortunately it didn't help me much, but personally, I'm happy for it."