The New England Revolution are a popular pick to win MLS silverware this year. That may need to be revisited after the Seattle Sounders registered a dominant opening-match 3-0 victory on Sunday in front of 39,782 fans. The Sounders got two goals and an assist from Clint Dempsey and a goal from Obafemi Martins to easily handle the defending Eastern Conference champions.
The Sounders started strong and grabbed the lead in the 25th minute when Juan Agudelo tripped Dempsey in the box. Dempsey calmly converted the ensuing penalty. Although there wasn't a ton of contact, Dempsey made the most of it after touching the ball behind his back to create some space.
Although the Revolution grabbed a bit of the game short after that -- even forcing Stefan Frei into the one tough save he had to make all night -- it was the Sounders who scored next. Dempsey put Tyrone Mears into space on the right side and the veteran full back lofted in a perfect cross to Martins. The glancing header gave the Sounders a 2-0 lead in the 41st minute.
The second half was more of the same, with the Sounders pushing forward and the Revolution struggling to create chances. The Sounders effectively put the match away in the 68th minute when Marco Pappa played a gorgeous through ball to Martins, who drew the goalkeeper and then tapped it over to Dempsey who basically walked it into the goal.
There were three players around whom there were the most question marks: Brad Evans, Micheal Azira and Mears. All three passed with varying degrees of awesomeness.
- Mears was an absolute revelation, barely putting a wrong foot forward all night. He wasn't bombing forward with the kind of wild abandon of Yedlin, but he did join the attack with purpose, overlapping effectively and showing quality attacking instincts.
- Azira wasn't called upon to do much -- and the Revolution missing both Jermaine Jones and Lee Nguyen in the middle of the park obviously made his job easier -- but he really didn't make any mistakes. He was sound with the ball at his feet and was always in the right place at the right time. He won't make anyone forget about Osvaldo Alonso, but it looks like he can be a solid fill-in when needed.
- Evans was mostly very good, notably cutting off several attack in the first 10 minutes. His best play was a sliding tackle right in front of goal to deny an Agudelo chance in the 35th minute. He did have a couple regrettable giveaways -- most notably setting up the Revolution's only great truly threatening chance -- but looked pretty comfortable considering this was his first MLS start at center back.
Enjoy however long we have Martins and Dempsey. They didn't have anything that was off-the-charts amazing in this one, but look even more comfortable together than they did last year. And if that proves to be true, watch out.