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Sounders playing part of the early bird

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It was a Late Show in the 1st leg, but Sounders are scoring more early goals than ever before.

Clint Dempsey has scored three times in the opening 10 minutes this season, including his opener versus Real Salt Lake.
Clint Dempsey has scored three times in the opening 10 minutes this season, including his opener versus Real Salt Lake.
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

If it seems of late that Sounders FC are getting off on the front foot, it’s no illusion.

Not only is Seattle in a unique position (for them) of owning a lead going into the second leg of an MLS postseason series, the Rave have scored more goals in the first 10 minutes than any season in Sounders history, dating to 1974.

Normally, the initial stages of a match are fraught with caution. Square passes, back-passes and generally a sorting out of what tactics the opponent is bringing. Only, Seattle has increasingly used this time to go for the jugular.

Early Returns

  • Min Scorer, Opponent (final score)
  • 1 (0:19) Dempsey v San Jose, 3/14 (2:3)
  • 5 Neagle at Colorado, 4/18 (3:1)
  • 5 Barrett at Vancouver, 5/16 (2:0)
  • 1 (0:50) Barrett at LA, 8/9 (1:3)
  • 6 Martins v Portland, 8/30 (2:1)
  • 6 Martins v Toronto, 9/5 (2:1)
  • 5 Dempsey v RSL, 10/25 (3:1)
  • 5 Dempsey v LA, 10/28 (3:2)
  • 10 Pappa v LA, 10/28 (3:2)

To date, Seattle can claim nine goals during the first through 10th minutes. That more than doubles the total of the past two seasons and it’s also twice the norm for local pro clubs going back four decades.

While it was a Late Show in the first leg versus Dallas, the previous week featured a combined three early bird strikes in the do-or-die encounters with RSL and LA. [Note: Seattle has scored more goals (12) in the final 10 minutes, plus stoppage time, something they have done three of the first six years in MLS.]

There’s much made of scoring first and its correlation to earning results. Yet sometimes leads come prematurely and seem to unsettle the scoring side, throwing off its predetermined game plan and rhythm (witness Holland in the ’74 World Cup final). However, Sounders FC have largely made the most of their early uprisings, winning six of eight and each of the last five. In other words, they can handle it.

What do you make of this? Are early goals now prompting you to place more importance on arriving for first kick at the CLink or in front of the TV? And is it a conscious effort on Seattle’s part, to start strong?

Frank MacDonald is a Seattle soccer journalist and historian. This story first appeared on his website and has been republished here with his permission.