Until Wednesday night, the Seattle Sounders had not led a league match 4-0 at the half since 2011. It showed.
After totally destroying Chivas USA in the first half -- it really could have been 7-0 with a little better finishing -- the Sounders seemed very much like a dog who had caught a cat for the first time. They had caught up, pinned it down and were a little shocked that the little critter started scratching back. Once the dust had settled, the Sounders were forced to settle for a 4-2 win.
Of course, there's nothing wrong with winning 4-2. And there's probably nothing wrong with scoring four first-half goals and then kinda packing it in. But the way the second-half unfolded left an unsatisfying feeling to the match.
Then again, the Sounders did claim three points, they did score four goals, they did expand their lead in the Supporters' Shield and Western Conference races to five points and no one got hurt. Ask anyone if they'd happily take all of those things prior to the game and they'd surely say yes.
So, maybe let's not read too much into how the Sounders looked after going up 4-0, OK?
Instead, let's talk about those things that happened in order to get the Sounders to 4-0.
Brad Evans, who looked about as bad as he possibly could taking corners against San Jose a few weeks ago, was a magician on set pieces this time. His corner set up Obafemi Martins' first goal and his perfect placed free kicks made Andy Rose's job pretty easy. If he can become a reliable right-footed service man, that would be a pretty significant weapon for the Sounders to add.
In addition to scoring a pair of goals, Rose was quietly a virtual metronome in the central midfield. He combined with Osvaldo Alonso to complete 91 percent of their passes, in addition to winning 67 percent of their tackles, 100 percent of their aerial duels and making six interceptions.
Even though Clint Dempsey failed to score a goal for the first time in three games, he was a key part of generating several chances. On another night, he might have scored a hat trick.
Take away the somewhat questionable penalty against Zach Scott and there's just not a lot to complain about even without scoring the second half. All in all, a pretty good performance.
SEA- Obafemi Martins (Chad Marshall, Brad Evans) 11'
SEA- Obafemi Martins (Lamar Neagle, Clint Dempsey) 16'
SEA- Andy Rose (Brad Evans) 38'
SEA- Andy Rose (Brad Evans) 42'
CHV- Marco Delgado (Eric Avila) 51'
CHV- Ryan Finley (penalty) 60'
Seattle Sounders FC - Stefan Frei, DeAndre Yedlin, Chad Marshall, Zach Scott, Leo Gonzalez, Brad Evans, Andy Rose, Osvaldo Alonso, Lamar Neagle (Chad Barrett 66'), Clint Dempsey (Gonzalo Pineda 87'), Obafemi Martins (Micheal Azira 76')
Substitutes Not Used: Josh Ford, Micheal Azira, Jalil Anibaba, Kenny Cooper, Sean Okoli, Gonzalo Pineda
TOTAL SHOTS: 12 (Clint Dempsey, 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (2 tied at 2); FOULS: 15 (3 tied at 3); OFFSIDE: 1 (Obafemi Martins, 1); CORNER KICKS: 4 (Brad Evans, 3); SAVES: 3 (Stefan Frei, 3) .
Chivas USA - Dan Kennedy, Akira Kaji, Bobby Burling, Jhon Hurtado (Andrew Jean-Baptiste 45'), Tony Lochhead, Marco Delgado, Nigel Reo-Coker, Oswaldo Minda ( Luis Bolanos 79'), Eric Avila (Marvin Chavez 69'), Felix Borja, Ryan Finley
Substitutes Not Used: Trevor Spangenberg, Nathan Sturgis, Leandro Barrera, Marvin Chavez, Agustin Pelletieri
TOTAL SHOTS: 16 (Felix Borja, 6); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (2 tied at 2); FOULS: 13 (4 tied at 2); OFFSIDE: 0 ; CORNER KICKS: 1 (Marco Delgado, 1); SAVES: 0 .
CHV- Bobby Burling (caution) 49'
CHV- Oswaldo Minda (caution) 72'
Referee: Ted Unkel
Referee's Assistants: Ian Anderson, Jonathan Johnson
4th Official: Kevin Scott
Weather: Clear and 69 Degrees
All statistics contained in the boxscore are unofficial
SEATTLE SOUNDERS HEAD COACH SIGI SCHMID
Thoughts on the game:
"I thought we came out and played really well in the first half. I thought we finished our opportunities, we had a few more chances to get a few more goals. I think in the second half we made the game harder on ourselves than we needed it to be. [Marco] Delgado gets a little bit of a fluky goal, I don't know if he can score that header again. They put pressure, they responded to their coach, probably being all over them at halftime and so they put forth the response. Like I said, we made the game harder than it needed to be. What I am happy with is that we came out with a good attitude and we went at them early, we got early goals, we were prepared, and I was very pleased with the first half and we're the first team now above 50 points and we want to continue to do that."
On Andy Rose's performance:
"I thought Andy played well. Sometimes everyone gets hung up because he scored two goals so that means he played well. I don't think he played well because he got the two goals, I think he played well in the first half, I thought he was sharp, I thought he turned, collected the ball, looked forward, he was a guy hitting a lot of our passes into our forwards and putting guys in. The icing on the cake was that he scores a good header and he gets in on the back post, as well. I was very pleased with Andy."
On heading into the break with a three-game winning streak:
"It's great to go in with three-straight wins because everyone was concerned that we were in a dive or something at that point, and I said ‘this isn't last year, it's a different year.' Now we get to rest a little bit, weary legs but when we start off again with Real Salt Lake when we have five games in 16 days and those games are going to be in four different cities. That's going to be a good stretch."
SEATTLE SOUNDERS MIDFIELDER BRAD EVANS
Thoughts on the win:
"Obviously it's a big deal for us. To be able to get nine points in three games at this stage in the season is invaluable, especially with the quick turnaround. We kind of put it in the back of our minds that we had a game on Saturday afternoon, we put a lot into the game. Into the second half, a little bit of tired legs and we shouldn't forget that we put in a good effort on Saturday, too. It's a quick turnaround, with the travel as well and happy for the guys. Now we get a nice little break and we have another tough set of games coming up. But that's this point of the season, that's what we've come to expect. We have to make another push after this."
On recording two assists on the night:
"I remember I came on as a sub in the game against San Jose. Four corner kicks all went to the same guy, and it wasn't good enough. After that, I kind of worked on set pieces a little bit, and I knew that [Gonzalo Pineda] wasn't starting so Sigi [Schmid] had a chat with me after training yesterday and how I'm going to line up when I'm serving the ball from different positions. I tried to take that into account and I think that Chad [Barrett] and Clint [Dempsey] are all calling attention in the box and Zack [Scott] as well, and I think that Andy, as he showed in the Open Cup as well, that he's able to get his head on pretty much anything. First one with his foot, second one with his head. He snuck in and if you have decent service, the guys on our team are going to get on the end of it."
On the team's first-half performance:
"I think set pieces, we haven't been too strong on set pieces. To be able to get three goals off of set pieces, it says a lot about determination. The center backs got to run 40 yards every time we get a free kick and be willing to fight and scrap and make good runs. I was happy with the team in the first half, then in the second half, we get some tired legs, we get a little bit complacent and you always see that when you go four up in a half, and maybe thinking about vacation a little bit, but it is what it is and the most important thing is three points."
CHIVAS USA HEAD COACH WILMER CABRERA
Thoughts on the match:
"Two different halves. Definitely the first half was embarrassing for us. Especially when you receive three goals on set pieces, something that we practice every week. It's just [lack of] focus and concentration from the players. They know and realize that, but we have to emphasize the positives. The second half was the best second half I have seen from Chivas USA since I have been here. We scored goals, we put pressure, we dominated possession, and passing accuracy for us was the best. So we need to grab something today. Our first half was like nothing and then we grabbed that second half and we need to replicate that for the remaining of the season. If we can do that we will be able to grab some points and continue to move forward. But we have to understand that we cannot play the way we did in the first half."
On ending the team's scoring drought:
"It's very important for us. We haven't scored too many goals this season and now we have to realize that our top scorer, who has 14 goals out of the 23 we have, is out, so we need everyone to step up. It was positive for both Marky [Delgado] and Ryan [Finley]. We created options. The second half they showed personality, character and that they feel pride on the field. The only thing is that when you are losing 4-0 at halftime, the game was over."
On Luis Bolaños' debut:
"He obviously went in 15 minutes. He showed that he has personality and that he goes for the ball every time. He moves well into the spaces and he's going to look into shooting the ball. As soon as he gets that confidence, that touch, because he had two-three shots from distance today, he will help us. The positive is that he moves well between the lines and that he always is in dangerous positions."
CHIVAS USA FORWARD RYAN FINLEY
Thoughts on the match:
"We scored those first two goals, I think if we get a third one, we had some chances, it's 4-3 with 10, 15 minutes to go and you put yourself back in the game. Obviously we need to start better in the first half. I think it shows a lot of character in the second half to fight back and just not give up when you're in a whole like that."
On the team's improvement in the second half:
"I think it's something you can build off. We have another game on Sunday and obviously we're not happy with the performance but we'll go back and look at the tape and see what we can adjust in the first half and the good things we can build off in the second half and hopefully move forward and fix some of the mistakes."
On his penalty kick:
"I got taken down and obviously I was pretty confident stepping up to the [penalty spot] and I was pretty confident that I would score. I just kind of wanted the ball."
On stepping in during Erick Torres' absence:
"For me to come in and get a chance and obviously playing with Felix [Borja] who is a great player as well, very experienced and is just a bull up [top]. It was nice to work with him and build off that. For the future when [Torres] comes back, hopefully we can have three guys up top that if we need someone else to step in or someone needs a break, hopefully we have more options.
On his performance on Wednesday:
"I think nine out of my 10 appearances have been off the bench and whenever you get a start you kind of want to come in and make an impact and obviously the guys played on Sunday against the Galaxy and you have some tired legs, so being a fresh guy coming off the bench you want to set the tone."
CHIVAS USA MIDFIELDER MARCO DELGADO
On ending the team's scoring drought:
"It was a good feeling. The second half we were down 4-0 and it was all about pride. It's about playing your heart out and getting that goal back gave us a lot of confidence. Especially for myself, it gave me a lot of confidence. My touch got better, all around I got better. It felt great, it was a good feeling."
On playing a better second half:
"We weren't so good in the first half, obviously, and it showed. They got a little relaxed and we took advantage of that. You can never get too relaxed in the game because we are capable of coming back, like we did today."
On the team's mentality in the second half:
"Obviously you can see we never give up. We all have big hearts, and we play for the crest and don't remember the name on the back. It's a famous quote I always like to use."
On finding the positives from Wednesday's match:
"We always use that in every game. We always try to fight in every game. Things don't always work out for us but we always have our hearts out there because it's your pride and the respect that you get from the other team. You just have to play your heart out there and see what goes on."
Thoughts on offensive attack without Erik Torres in the lineup:
"It was different. It was different because Torres is always the man right there in the middle. He's always there in the right spots, for the tap-ins and for holding up the ball. But I think [Felix] Borja and Ryan [Finley] did well playing together. I felt like they were communicating well and were playing well with each other, running off the ball and playing one-two's."