It's extremely satisfying when the Seattle Sounders defeat FC Dallas, like they did on Saturday night with a final score of 3-0. The team from Frisco has long exhibited some dickish qualities. Granted, they're not as villainous as they used to be, what with stupid, sexy Dan Kennedy, but they still have Blas Perez and Michel on their team, who both would contend for the least favorite player in MLS award.
To have Dallas come into town and watch them push the Sounders around for the first half, that was not my favorite thing ever. But Seattle responded with aplomb. The second half earned the fans free haircuts thanks to the substitutions by Sigi Schmid. Brad Evans, playing in the midfield for the first time since last season, bossed his way to an assist on the opening goal. Obafemi Martins, horrifying mask and all, scored a goal that made me shout aloud pleasant obscenities. Then there's Leo Gonzalez.
Oh Leo, my sweet Leo, you are an unsung hero of this team. Since 2009 you have been with Seattle, a rock on the backline, locking down opposing wingers, boldly slamming David Beckham to the ground, and just being all-around endearing. There aren't a lot of #12 jerseys in the crowd, but there should be. The goal you scored in stoppage time on Saturday was your first since 2010 and was your second ever goal for Seattle.
It wasn't a goal that'll show up as a Goal of the Week nominee, though it should be; not because it was a golazo, though it was a pretty goal, but because that goal put a smile on everybody's face. That goal made every Seattle fan happy. It was a goal that made every Seattle player and coach happy. Not happy for the win, but happy for Leo, happy that this behind the scene warrior, a perennial starter for one of the best teams in MLS, who this season has lost his role because he's been training his replacement so successfully, was able to hear his name shouted from the many fans in jubilation because of the win, of the goal, and of Leo himself.
It was a joyous occasion, one that puts the angst from the week prior somewhat out of our minds. Bad games will happen, they happen at least once a year with Seattle. Even last year had one devastatingly unfair loss (Columbus) and three close-your-eyes-because-if-you-don't-your-face-will-melt-off games (summertime LA, NYRB, and Revolution). But instead of dwelling on a disheartening loss, the Sounders faced off against a Western Conference playoff team, took their lumps without conceding a goal, and then put three on them before Dallas could say mercy.
That's the sign of a true contender. The chances of Seattle winning a second consecutive Supporters Shield is slim, thanks to the large disparity of quality in the East, but here we are, best in the league in PPG, poised to make another run at the Shield. But where I think this team is truly built is for the playoffs. In years past the Sounders seemingly shifted their style of play in the MLS Cup Playoffs, becoming more conservative and not wanting to be too aggressive at risk of giving up goals. This season, with the best defense in the league (based on GA metrics) headed by giant-slayer Brad Evans, Defender of the Year Chad Marshall, best RB in MLS Tyrone Mears, currently better than President Leo Dylan Remick, and an incredibly in form Stefan Frei, the Sounders can play their game style without sacrificing defense. That was a very convoluted way of saying that this season the Sounders won't have to change their style come playoffs, that they can play their attacking, possession style soccer and slowly suffocate teams.
It's a good time to be a Sounders fan, but when hasn't it been? This next week has Seattle start their defense of the US Open Cup against Portland (Boo!) and hosting San Jose again (Double Boo!). It's primed to be a great week.
Gifs for Goals
Ugh, they're playing both Michel and Perez?
Hmm, this first half isn't playing out how I wanted it to.
Goodness, Dallas probably thought they were gonna score there.
Okay Sounders, we know what we have to do to turn this game around.
Who will be the hero to save, Seattle?
It's Lamar! What a shot!
Hit Dallas where it hurts, Seattle!
Oh my, Oba! What was a wonderful goal.
You had it, Dallas. You had it but then you fucked it up.
Wait, Leo scored?!
Wait a minute, Leo scored?
Haircuts and a shut out, no big deal.
You know, all in all just Sounders doing Sounders things.