Roger Levesque has scored three goals for Seattle Sounders FC, each ranking among the most important of the season.
His first gave the Sounders an early 1-0 lead in their U.S. Open Cup win at Portland. His second was the game-winner at MLS defending champion Columbus. And his third pulled the Sounders even at Kansas City on Saturday, helping them clinch a spot in the Major League Soccer playoffs.
The first remains his favorite, thanks to his run as a USL-1 Sounder from 2004-08.
“The Portland goal hits a little closer to home just with the rivalry we’ve had over the years and just knowing all those guys, knowing the coach, and all the emotions that’s built up in that rivalry,” he said. “I think that’s probably still the highlight to this point.”
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It’s also the one he celebrated most extravagantly, as Levesque impersonated a tree being chopped down by teammate Nate Jaqua – timberrrrr!
“That’s probably what makes it the best, too,” Levesque said. “I think that’s probably the only pre-planned celebration this year.”
The Sounders went on to win that game, 2-1, on their way to the U.S. Open Cup trophy.
No one knows what kind of run the Sounders will make in the MLS playoffs, which begin next week. But the clinching victory on Saturday was greatly aided by Levesque’s goal, which pulled Seattle even again after back-to-back Wizards goals had pushed them ahead, 2-1.
The equalizer began with a Freddie Ljungberg corner kick that was headed on by Tyrone Marshall.
“I lined up on the goalkeeper,” Levesque said. “We had talked in film about there being a space at the back post where their team tends to ball watch – everyone looks toward the ball and space tends to open up in the back. I found that spot. Freddie whipped in a great ball, Tyrone went up and battled for it. It skipped through, and it was just me at the back post. I think it would have been harder for me to miss than make it at that point.”
Levesque had been subbed into the game just six minutes earlier. Coach Sigi Schmid had sent him on for Sounders leading scorer Fredy Montero, who Schmid thought seemed discouraged after missing earlier goal-scoring opportunities.
“My mother always told me that your first reaction is usually your true reaction, and everything else is a rationalization,” Schmid said. “Sometimes you just have a feeling. Fredy missed his first chance, and we stayed with him. He missed his second chance, and his head sunk a little bit. (Montero) is a young player. He is a great player. He’s a guy who is still going to score a lot of goals for us. As I said after the game, maybe it was just not his day. My instinct told me that was the move to make on that particular day, and it worked.”
That can only be a good thing for a player like Levesque, who is still striving for playing time. He has two starts and 13 appearances in Seattle’s 29 regular-season games. His 251 minutes rank 19th on the club.
But Schmid believes in rewarding production, and Levesque has used his relatively few opportunities to produce three goals that have helped shape this season.
“They say luck is where opportunity meets preparation,” Levesque said. “I think that’s part of it. ... It starts out here on the practice field, just coming out, working hard and competing. Sigi’s going to make decisions about who plays and who doesn’t. It’s the coach’s right. He does what he thinks is going to make the team win. Just being ready for that opportunity is my job at this point.”
Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808