In the first meeting of the two teams since the Sounders eliminated the Galaxy from the playoffs, Seattle showed that the post-Martins era might turn out alright. They overcame a slow start and comically bad field conditions to hand the team of veteran Eurostars a 4-goal thumping.
Seattle apparently brought some of their own weather to the Golden State and the field was completely waterlogged the entire match, making every pass an adventure. Early on, it looked like LA was adjusting better and had control of the match. In the first 10 minutes Robbie Keane had two dangerous chances in the box — one he scuffed to Frei and one he sent into the goalkeeper's chest from a tight angle.
But then the Sounders took over. The first glimpse was a 14th minute through-ball to Nelson Valdez that put him behind the Galaxy's high line to go free on goal, but the Galaxy keeper slid out to make a save. The collision was originally called a penalty, but was (rightly) called back after a conference with the assistant.
The Sounders followed with a succession of dangerous corners and Clint Dempsey had a swerving rip from 25 yards out that went just wide. The breakthrough came in the 22nd minute on a breakaway, when Dempsey pulled the defense in and slipped a ball sideways to the wide open Andreas Ivanschitz, who hammered a left-footed shot from the top of the box for the opening goal.
Five minutes later another through-ball past the Galaxy's stubbornly high line sent Valdez behind (again), and he was taken down near the endline. Ivanschitz's low free kick found Brad Evans, who back-heeled(!) it to Chad Marshall, who kicked(!) it in from short range for the two goal lead.
Another look at Chad Marshall's goal (note the back-heel from one Brad Evans). pic.twitter.com/BQKJtJuKin— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) February 18, 2016
At this point Seattle might have had 80% possession as the Galaxy found it absolutely impossible to solve the Sounders' short passing game, even on a dire field. Their only good chance was another Keane shot — off of a bad giveaway in Seattle's end — but Frei was there to make a diving one-handed save.
In the second half Seattle didn't take their feet off the gas. Just a minute in Jordan Morris went sprinting onto a ball over the top of LA's high line (which they inexplicably didn't abandon) then cut the ball back to an unmarked Dempsey, who hammered it into the top of the net for the third.
A closer look at the Jordan Morris to Clint Dempsey goal pic.twitter.com/vaJ9ppNwqL— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) February 18, 2016
The final goal came in similar circumstances... in the 56th minute Morris got behind the Galaxy defense, drew the defenders, and laid the ball off to Ivanschitz (whose clever late run again left him wide open) for the easy finish and the brace.
Jordan Morris gets his second assist of the match as he finds Andreas Ivanschitz to make it 4-0 pic.twitter.com/kSBjwo8IZL— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) February 18, 2016
The game wound down with a host of subs and very little action left as the Galaxy looked like they just wanted to get out of the rain and the Sounders were happy to oblige.
There were a lot of positive take-aways for Seattle. First, nobody got hurt despite the horrid conditions. Second, the offense didn't miss a beat without Martins. In fact, the attacking interplay and movement looked as good as it ever has in the Dempsey era (though we arguably shouldn't draw too much from a preseason match). Third, young Morris was a huge part of the offense, making dangerous runs all game and directly assisting the last two goals. If he and Ivanschitz can be as goal dangerous as they were tonight, the offense will be in fine form, and the team will have a DP spot to spare.
Now the team looks to their first game that actually matters when they host Club America next week. And based on tonight's performance they'll be confident no matter what the weather brings.