Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid dug deep down his bench Tuesday, and he struck gold.
The Sounders routed Real Salt Lake, 4-1, at Starfire Sports Stadium, to advance in the play-in portion of the U.S. Open Cup. Seattle will play the Colorado Rapids next month at a site to be determined, with that winner advancing to the round of 16.
Leading the way Tuesday was Sebastien Le Toux, who shifted to forward and had a part in every Seattle goal: two goals and two assists.
“Coach asked me to come back up front if he needs me,” Le Toux said. “So I wanted to show him I can help the team at that position too. It’s what I love to play. … It was good for me to score for the confidence and to come back and show I’m still here and ready to play.”
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Le Toux had started the Sounders’ first four games at midfield, was moved to the bench last week, and made quite a case to return Tuesday. Which is just the way Schmid likes it.
“You want to have a team that has 17, 18, 19 guys that can start for you, because it’s a long season,” Schmid said. “You never know who’s going to get hurt and who’s going to miss and so this was a good game for people to build their confidence. And Seba (Le Toux) certainly offers us alternatives.”
Le Toux’s five regular season starts made him one of the most experienced players in the lineup, along with defenders James Riley (six) and Zach Scott (five). But there also were five players making their first starts of the season: defenders Taylor Graham and Tyson Wahl, midfielders Stephen King and Patrick Ianni, and forward Roger Levesque, who had three assists.
Salt Lake went with more of its regulars, but the Sounders controlled from the start.
Their first payoff came in the 27th minute, when RSL defender Tony Beltran fouled Levesque in the penalty area. Le Toux was selected to take Sounders FC’s first-ever penalty kick, and he drilled it.
Five minutes later, Le Toux broke past the defense, waited for offensive help, and laid the ball off to Nyassi, who streaked by and finished.
Salt Lake got its goal in the 32nd minute, an unassisted Will Johnson goal past keeper Chris Eylander. However, the Sounders settled it with goals by King and Le Toux in the 53rd and 55th minutes.
“The result was great for us,” Schmid said. “And it was great to get some guys on the field that haven’t been playing a lot and for them to make our job as difficult as possible. Obviously Seba had a very good game with his two goals, (Sanna) Nyassi caused a lot of problems. I also thought Ianni and King played very well in the middle of midfield, kept things together for us. It was nice to have Taylor Graham back there.”
The Sounders return to their MLS season Saturday, visiting the Chicago Fire, the league’s only remaining unbeaten team.
Schmid said he expects all players to be ready for what will be Seattle’s third game in eight days.
Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808