While the flurry of five second-half goals may have left many headed home from CenturyLink Field Saturday frustrated after the Seattle Sounders suffered their first MLS regular-season home loss to the Portland Timbers, the first of Seattle’s goals, scored by Victor Rodriguez, provided a slight silver lining to an otherwise overcast afternoon.
Rodriguez scored in the 51st minute, capping off a lightning sprint with a diving header to hammer in a bouncing cross from Nicolas Lodeiro at the left post. The goal was Rodriguez’ first since the 2017 Western Conference finals second leg against Houston.
The long gap between goals is indicative of the midfielder’s struggles with injuries in the past six months.
Saturday’s match marked Rodriguez’ fifth match played since he scored against Houston, while the club has had to make do without the winger’s pace for 10 league matches in 2018 as he recovered from an arthroscopic knee surgery. Now, Rodriguez says, the knee injury is behind him.
“I feel better,” Rodriguez said through a translator Saturday. “Thanks to the work that I am doing and the work that the physiotherapist team is doing with me, I believe that I am heading the right direction here with my knee.”
Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer will certainly hope that the goal becomes the first of many for Rodriguez this season.
“It was a very well-crafted goal,” Schmetzer said. “Nico was doing some hard work in the right-wing channel. Victor makes a good run. Good ball. Good finish. We’re pleased with that, that he can get on the scoresheet again. Guys are streaky sometimes with their confidence and they can get a good boost in his confidence. I think his challenge has been his knee that’s been bugging him. I think he’s finally getting over that. I think that injury has gone away for the most part and that’s why you’re seeing an increase in the quality of his play.”
For Rodriguez, he credited the chemistry he has been able to develop in the pasts three matches with teammates Lodeiro and Clint Dempsey with his increased productivity in the final third. Still, the Spaniard knows that if results don’t follow, the formula may be altered.
“We were trying and we believe that we are making progress there, but it is hard to show that when the results are not helping us out,” Rodriguez said. “The only thing left to us is to keep working at it, keep working at it, and in the end it will be the coach’s decision to determine if that should be the formation on the field.”