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Offense stalling? Just add Henry Wingo

The 22-year-old midfielder provided the spark that led to Seattle’s game-winning goal Wednesday.

Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

SEATTLE — Midfielder Henry Wingo subbed on for a cramping Handwalla Bwana for the Seattle Sounders in the 73rd minute of a CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal against Chivas Guadalajara. Five minutes later, Wingo slid in the cross to Clint Dempsey that broke a scoreless deadlock for the home side and gave Seattle a huge advantage going into the decisive second leg Mar. 14.

Wingo, 22, wreaked havoc in his 17 minutes of play. According to head coach Brian Schmetzer, those had been his instructions.

“(My instructions were to) use his speed and power,” Schmetzer said. “He’s not just fast, he’s pretty powerful too. Use his speed and power to go against some heavy legs and see if he could create anything.”

He did.

From Wingo’s perspective, the play developed just like he had seen a hundred times on the training grounds:

“That’s where he likes to be,” Wingo said of Dempsey. “He likes the ball on the ground. Ball to his feet. He likes to finish from the penalty spot. When Jordan [McCrary] played me down the line I just had to look over my shoulder, saw where he was and tried to find him.”

After an injury-plagued rookie season, Wingo looks like he might be the quality depth at winger that the Sounders have been searching for to back up the first-stringers when legs get heavy midsummer. The pace and physicality were known qualities of Wingo’s, but the demonstration of ball control and placement the former University of Washington player has shown in the past week may mean greater opportunities to contribute going forward.

Plus, he already handshakes at a veteran level.

Wingo plans to have more opportunities to celebrate with teammates this season, but it will center around avoiding injuries.

“The biggest thing this year is staying healthy,” Wingo said. “If I can do that I think I’ll continue to find time on the field and hopefully continue to help my team win games.”

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