A week ago, there was a lot of conversation about whether the Seattle Sounders had played a "perfect" game against the San Jose Earthquakes. The 4-2 win over FC Dallas was far from that.
In its own way, though, maybe that is more encouraging. Despite losing their defensive stalwart after just 30 minutes, despite blowing a 2-0 lead, despite failing to finish any number of chances, the Sounders still dominated. The dominance doesn't necessarily show up in the stats, but there's no doubt that they had Dallas playing on their heels throughout the match. They were peppering Raul Fernandez with shots. They were winning key midfield duels.
It's also worthing pointing out that this is all happening while they are still somewhere short of full strength. Even before Alonso went out, they were using their 10th different starting lineup in as many games and had all three of their Designated Players out of the game.
I don't think I'm being remotely hyperbolic when I say there are at least 15 players who have a legitimate claim to a starting spot, and a few more who probably deserve more playing time than they can reasonably receive. Steve Zakuani, around whom there remains much disagreement, appears to be facing a long road back to significant minutes through no real fault of his own. Servando Carrasco, Mario Martinez and Lamar Neagle are making it very hard to have anything resembling agreement on an "ideal XI." DeAndre Yedlin, once seemingly a placeholder until the lineup settled, is looking like one of the best right backs in the entire league. All Obafemi Martins does is finish chances.
These are good problems to have. Let's hope nothing gets settled anytime soon.
SEA - Eddie Johnson (Osvaldo Alonso) 16'
SEA - Lamar Neagle (Brad Evans) 30'
DAL - Kenny Cooper (Michel) 54'
DAL - Michel 61'
SEA - Eddie Johnson (Lamar Neagle) 62'
SEA - Obafemi Martins (Brad Evans) 83'
Seattle Sounders FC - Michael Gspurning, DeAndre Yedlin, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Djimi Traore, Leo Gonzalez (Zach Scott 78), Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso (Shalrie Joseph 31), Servando Carrasco, Mario Martinez (Obafemi Martins 63), Lamar Neagle, Eddie Johnson.
Substitutes Not Used: Marcus Hahnemann, Marc Burch, Alex Caskey, David Estrada.
TOTAL SHOTS: 16 (Johnson 6); SHOTS ON GOAL: 11 (Johnson 4); FOULS: 11 (Gonzalez, Johnson 2); OFFSIDE: 7 (Johnson 3); CORNER KICKS: 7 (Martinez 4); SAVES: 4 (Gspurning 4).
FC Dallas - Raul Fernandez, Zach Loyd, Matt Hedges, London Woodberry (Walker Zimmerman 85), Jair Benitez, Jackson, Michel, Je-Vaughn Watson, Kenny Cooper (Fabian Castillo 64), Blas Perez, Eric Hassli.
Substitutes Not Used: Chris Seitz, David Ferreira, Andrew Jacobson, Stephen Keel, Bobby Warshaw.
TOTAL SHOTS: 13 (Hassli 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 6 (Cooper, Hassli 2); FOULS: 13 (Michel 3); OFFSIDE: 2 (Hassli, Perez 1); CORNER KICKS: 3 (Michel 2); SAVES: 6 (Fernandez 6).
DAL - London Woodberry (caution) 43'
DAL - Blas Perez (ejection) 73'
SEA - DeAndre Yedlin (caution) 87'
Referee: Mark Geiger
Referee's Assistants: Joe Fletcher, Claudio Badea
4th Official: Baldomero Toledo
Time of Game: 1:53
Weather: Partly Cloudy and 63 degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial
POSTGAME QUOTES - Sounders FC vs. FC Dallas
Sigi Schmid - Sounders FC Head Coach
(On the game...) "Obviously a good game for the fans-exciting game. You never want to squander a two-goal lead, but we knew they were dangerous on set pieces. We lost our mark on the first one and obviously Michel hits a great ball on the second and Michael [Gspurning] got tied up. The timeliness of our third goal was really vital and we continued to get opportunities. The red card I think was justified-if you saw Leo [Gonzalez]'s eye, you would know it's justified. Now it's just a situation of us continuing to do what we've been doing over the last few games and carry it forward. The guys know what they have to do, they know how they have to play now to win games."
(On winning at home...) "We want to win our games at home. That's super important. Being able to measure ourselves against a first place team in our conference is important. Being able to show that once our weapons are healthy that we can score goals on the offensive end was another important factor, as well. We're trying to use the abilities of the guys we have. We're using our speed so we're attacking a little more direct. We also knew this was a team that we could be direct against-we could get behind them centrally and we did that often in the first half. We had a couple of opportunities to get more goals. They had some opportunities, as well, off their set pieces."
(On the severity of the injury to Osvaldo Alonso...) "Don't really know. It's a left adductor strain. We'll just have to see. Right after the game you can't tell, it's usually a day or two later that you can assess it and determine how long it will be."
(On the severity of the injury to Leo Gonzalez...) "Don't know. They're stitching him up right now...the reason we made the sub was Leo wanted to go back in, but I knew there were a lot of aerial duels, and so I thought it was a good thing to bring in Zach [Scott] for that. And Leo, the cut was pretty deep and it was right in the eyelid right above the eye."
(On the play of Mario Martinez and Shalrie Joseph...) "Both of them didn't get 90. Martinez subbed out and we subbed Joseph on. I thought Martinez played well. We made the change there just because, again, we felt we needed to get a little bit bigger on the field because that was their major danger, so we brought in Obafemi [Martins] and moved Lamar [Neagle] to midfield. It was tough for Shalrie to go in to the game because he really didn't get to warm up or anything and he had to get right into the game as a replacement for Ozzie, so because he's an experience player, he was able to find the game pretty quickly."
(On the play of Lamar Neagle...) "He's done well everywhere we've put him. The last goal we got-the Obafemi goal-the ball he crosses in to Eddie Johnson is tremendous, and Eddie is unlucky with the header. He's played on the flank for us before, that's where he's done it, but he's done well for us up front. As the season goes on, we know there's time we're going to miss Eddie and so forth so he's definitely a major alternative for us up front."
(On the improvement of the team...) "The guys never lost faith in themselves. I thought the first half in Salt Lake we played badly. Until then I thought we'd been a little bit unlucky, but the first half in Salt Lake we played badly. That was something that we definitely pressed upon in the second half in Salt Lake. We won that half and played much better, and from there on out we stuck to it, and we can't forget that work is part of what it is. Unfortunately it's part of the game-you have to be able to work, and we have. Guys have put in the work, guys have believed in themselves, the competition level with guys getting healthy has made for more competition in training, so everybody's game has increased as a result of that. They understand better now how to use their strengths and players have a knack for the abilities of the players that we have. Until you get them out there on the field and you actually do it in games, no matter how much you do it on the training ground, it doesn't come across until you start playing games."
(On the offensive play the past two games...) "It's two games, just two games. Certainly I think with the emergence of Lamar right now, with Eddie playing as he's playing right now, with Obafemi coming in-that's three goals in three games for him-we're a handful up front. If you're center backs and you lose sight of our forwards for a second, they're going to be running behind you. That's what we expected when we signed Obafemi, to combine with the players that we have and we know that teams like to push their outside backs forward and they leave themselves two-v-two and we feel that we have forwards who can definitely exploit that."
(On explosiveness of forwards...) "They leave themselves 2 v. 2 sometimes and we feel that we have forwards who can definitely exploit that."
(On the performance of Brad Evans...) "Brad is always part of our offense just because his instincts are pretty good. If anything sometimes I try to reign him back a little bit because sometimes he likes to get forward too much or run too much and we need him back helping us to defend...He has done different things for us and he got two good assists for tonight, so I was very pleased with his game."
(On the performance of Yedlin...) "Yedlin I thought played well. I thought he did a good job at right back and he is still a young player and I talked to him about one thing at the end of the game where I thought he could have done something a little better. Overall he has done far more things right than wrong. His speed and enthusiasm on the field are big plusses for us and his ability to come forward with the ball. All of a sudden with one step he is past three guys, so he has definitely added something to our team.
(On the forwards clicking...) "It's a combination of everything. We have really emphasized over the last few weeks now that we've gotten them out there that they really look for each other and find each other. I think our forwards are running off of each other really well. You see Neagle and Eddie up front they are playing combinations off of each other-one is showing and one is going and you know the other is getting back in there if the ball goes past them. Same thing when Oba comes in. The two forwards playing off each other, our defense knows they are going to run and so our defense now, I think Leo Gonzalez in the first half did a great job of stretching the Dallas defense and playing balls in behind."
Eddie Johnson - Sounders FC Forward
(On his play ...) "For the first couple games of the season, my body was beat up and it was frustrating because there was a time that as a team, we faced a really difficult challenge. Considering we're an organization that usually starts the season off really well, so we found it was a difficult challenge to start the season. But it was just getting that rhythm and getting that confidence, and staying true to myself and believing in my teammates. In practice week in and week out, just working on what we need to and then putting it out on the field."
(On the team's recent offensive explosion ...) "Well, talk about a team that has depth. When certain guys aren't performing or are injured, you call on certain guys to step up. My hat's off to Lamar Neagle. He's pushed me, he's pushed Oba (Obefemi Martins), he's pushed David (Estrada). He's made us play out this game. When you've got someone like that scoring goals, nothing is guaranteed. He's been stepping up. DeAndre Yedlin is another young guy that's really gotten the opportunity and taken advantage of it. It's good to see different guys scoring goals and we just want to continue pushing each other in training and it's paying dividends."
(On how the team responded after losing the two-goal lead ...) "(Assistant coach Brian) Schmetzer always talks about how goals change games. We were really down on ourselves even though we were up 2-0 at halftime. But they had a chance off the post just before halftime so we were lucky to not concede there. We had opportunities in the first half, but we just had to be more composed, show more composure in the box when we got our chances and stick the ball in the back of the net. We got the chance in the second half, and Oba and myself, we made it count."
(On knocking off the top team in the league ...) "We wouldn't be where we are right now if we didn't want to play the best and be the best. We couldn't have asked for a better team, who's been hot all year, to come here and really challenge us as a team and see where we are. Tonight we showed our true character. Even going up 2-0, then conceding two goals, we really put them on our terms from start to finish, and when we got our chances in the second half, we put them away."
Lamar Neagle - Sounders FC Forward
(On a big win against a top team ...) "They were on a good streak, we were on a good streak, but we're unstoppable with these fans behind us. Our offense is clicking. We've got Obe (Obafemi Martins) up top, we've got Eddie (Johnson) ... we've got so much firepower, it's hard to stop. Our defense did a great job as well."
(On losing the 2-0 lead ...) "Just a lapse there. They always say that that's the most dangerous lead - 2-0. But we kept our confidence, we knew we had the firepower to come back and that's what we did."
(On the team's recent winning streak ...) "Yeah, we're on a roll. It's great to be playing at home. We went on a long road trip and came out doing well so we're just keeping it rolling."
(On what he saw on his goal ...) "I was running from deep. They had a high back line so Brad (Evans) saw me early enough to play it through and that was the end. If they're standing still and I'm on a roll, they're not going to catch me at all."
Michael Gspurning - Sounders FC Goalkeeper
(On the victory...) "Today, a great victory again and it's a great sign that we are back in business. We have a couple games ahead of us to keep going, but it looks way better than a couple of weeks ago. Our offense did a fantastic job."
(On the last time someone scored a corner against him...) "One year (Chicago)... We took the win and I was able to make a couple of important saves so I equalized this goal."
(On Eddie's huge goal to retake the lead...) "It was very important because we broke the momentum of the game for Dallas. It was a huge game of Eddie and the momentum came back in this situation to us and it was very important."
(On the dangerous look of the offense...) "We knew that Dallas had a really high line so we tried the long balls, quick long balls those are from me, and it worked out pretty well. And yeah, 3 points."
Obafemi Martins - Sounders FC Forward
(On scoring in consecutive matches...) "The players did well before me coming in and I did my best scoring goals as well and we won. We scored four goals which is good, so I am very happy for that."
(On the chemistry up front...) "I spoke to Lamar and Eddie and playing close to each other, because the more we pass the ball to each other it is easier to play. We have been doing that in training, which is good. I'm happy for that because we did well."
(On finding role on team...) "Scoring goals is always important, we can pass the ball around but the striker is why I am here-scoring goals, and it's happening.
(On winning a tough game...) "We work hard for it and it was a good win. We hope to continue like this since we have a long way to go."
(On recovery from injury...) "I'm getting there. The fact that I'm playing from the second half and trying to help the team as well, I think it's good."
(On finding flow...) When I first came I said I wanted to score a lot of goals and it's happening now. I hope it continues to be like this, and the important thing is to win, to get the three points."
Schellas Hyndman - FC Dallas Head Coach
(On the outcome of the game...) "It's about right. They created a lot of chances, a lot of breakaways, a lot of counterattacks. It seemed like the only time Seattle really put their foot on the ball is when we were down a man. The rest of the time it was very fast-paced and they created a lot of goals, a lot of scoring chances."
(On his formation and tactics...) "First of all, we did not play with three forwards; we played in a 4-4-2 that we have been playing since David Ferreira has been injured, so I don't know if the tactics mattered. I think probably the bigger thing that mattered was that I think our guys lost their composure and emotions with what they considered some of the calls that weren't being made, and then you're just disappointed. Then we came back and scored two goals, and unfortunately we gave up the third one so quickly."
(On Michel's play...) "He brings a lot of strength to our team because for you to be strong in the set pieces, you've got have a good server and he's done that extremely well for us."
(On the red card issued to Blas Perez...) "You know what? The nice thing is technology today is wonderful. I would encourage each of you to take off your Sounders hat and go look at the video, and you can see that if anything, Gonzalez ran into him. I was just a little confused that the referees couldn't get it right. I think what ended up happening is, it's like a policeman shows up and a guy's got a bloody face so somebody must have hit him. I think I wasn't real pleased with it, but it's the way the game goes. You're counting on the right decisions being made by the linesmen and the referees and they really have the best position, so it is what it is."
(On whether he thinks the red card changed the outcome of the game...) "I think first of all, I think we didn't play very well in the first half. We challenged the boys to come back in the second half, and they did. It was just frustrating. This is a tough environment for anyone to come into. If it's not a game that's controlled, and there's a lot of stuff going off the ball and there's a lot of physical play, I don't know if that brings the best out of our team. I don't know that we ever got on track. I think we got on track when we tied the game, but that was just a minute later or so that we gave it up. Understand that Seattle created a lot of chances for themselves as well. It's a wide open game and both teams had chances to score goals."
(On what to do to get the team back on track after the loss...) "I've got George John out, he's probably our best defender. I've got David Ferreira out, he's our captain and I consider him the best player on the field. And we've got Andrew Jacobson out. So I think before we get too hard on ourselves and what we got to do, we've just got to get over this one. The mistake's been made. Sometimes you make mistakes because you're under a lot of pressure. We had too many players that didn't have a real good game and that didn't help us. I think we let Seattle dictate the game. It was very fast-paced, and that's something we shouldn't be doing. But as I said to the players, we're a good team. What we've got to do is get over this one and find our winning ways again."
Zach Loyd - FC Dallas Defender
(On the red card...) "It always hurts to go down a man, especially on the road. First half we came out a little slow and gave up two soft goals that were just defensive lapses, but we came out strong in the second half, tied it up two-two, and then unfortunately gave up another goal. Overall, we didn't come out with the energy that we needed to start the game. But the second half we came out well, and unfortunately gave up that third goal real quick after we tied it up. It was kind of hard to get back into it after that red card. I think the guys showed a lot of character though coming back, a lot of effort trying to get the ball back, but being down a guy is really tough in this environment."
(On difference between first and second half...) "I think we just came out not focused, I can't really put a finger on it. They came and got one real early on us, we haven't been scored on that early this year. It was kind of a shock to us. We really regrouped well at halftime. We came in here and got back to doing the things we do best. I don't think you are going to win any games giving up four goals."
Kenny Cooper - FC Dallas Forward
(On positives to take away from game...) "There was a good response after halftime, and the team did a good job to pull two goals back. There was a bad giveaway after the second goal, and they came right back at us and got a third. We all are disappointed, and obviously want to stay in the first place position and the team showed great character to fight back and fought hard to the end."
(On Michel's service...) "His service is incredible, I think he is one of the best in the league. We are very fortunate to have him. On plays and set pieces he has very very good delivery, and has done a great job for us the whole season. He is a real difference maker, I think everyone can see that. He is also a great guy, and we are really happy to have him with us."