Welcome back to the Clint and Oba show. The Seattle Sounders' dynamic duo were back together for the first time since June 13 and both factored in the two goals of a 2-1 win over Toronto FC on Saturday.
The much-needed three points vaulted the Sounders into third place in the hyper-competitive Western Conference, albeit with more games played than the teams below them. It also sets up a massive few weeks, the first of which is next week against the San Jose Earthquakes.
Make no mistake, this was a game the Sounders absolutely needed to win. Not simply because of the standings, but because the Sounders were facing a short-handed TFC at home.
Early on, it looked like the Sounders might overwhelm their opponents. Martins found himself behind the TFC backline off a beautiful scoop pass from Dempsey. Martins easily beat Chris Konopka to score his 10th goal in his 15th appearance.
Several more chances came, the best of which after a Martins shot from distance that rebounded to Dempsey, who put it in the back of the net. Unfortunately, Dempsey was a solid yard or two offside at the time of the shot and the goal was waved off.
The missed chances came back to bite the Sounders. Former Sounders first-round draft pick Eriq Zavaleta found himself completely unmarked in front of the goal and easily headed in Ashtone Morgan's cross. Coming off a recycled corner kick, it dropped the Sounders goal-difference to -6 on set pieces.
In what is hopefully a sign the Sounders have turned a corner, they managed to rebound. Martins again found himself running at the TFC defense and worked himself into the middle of the park. Konopka was able to stop the initial charge, but Dempsey alertly trailed the play and was first to the rebound to give the Sounders a lead in the 77th minute.
- There were no brilliant combinations between the attacking trio of Martins, Dempsey and Nelson Haedo Valdez, but seeing them on the field together was pretty great even if it was only about 20 minutes. It appears the decision to not start them together was more born out of their unfamiliarity with one another. You gotta think that will come, as the three have complementary skill sets. If they can get onto the field together more often, they could be a handful.
- Speaking of Valdez, that guy is a warrior. There were no great moments going forward, but he made a couple of great plays on defense, including a late tackle to break up an attack. Valdez also happened to get kicked pretty hard on that play and managed to stay in only to get stepped on a few minutes later. Valdez came to Seattle with a reputation for hard work and he's done nothing to diminish that perception.
- Osvaldo Alonso finally looked like his old self. He was reading passes and popping up in the right place. The speed isn't quite there, but he was effective and hardly put a wrong foot forward. As big as the attacking trio is for the Sounders fortunes, Alonso is just as important. His absence has been felt as much as anyone's and if the Sounders are to make a run at the MLS Cup, they need him. Of course, he's going to be out for the San Jose match after being given a very questionable yellow for diving.