After opening the season with a five-game winless streak, Seattle Sounders FC suddenly finds itself on a five-game unbeaten streak.
The abrupt turnaround reached new heights Saturday when the Sounders routed recent nemesis San Jose, 4-0, in their first match at CenturyLink Field after a three-game trip.
“One thing we started talking about is we have to find our passion and our determination or grit, and if we can find that part of our game, I think the soccer will follow,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. “I think on the road trip, we played with a lot of passion, determination and grit, and today I think the soccer followed a little bit.”
Schmid saw that combination of sweat and skill reflected in the opening goal — the first of two by Lamar Neagle of Federal Way.
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Mauro Rosales poked the ball away from San Jose across midfield, then sprinted in the other direction. In front of the Earthquakes’ goal, he chested a pass from Eddie Johnson back to Neagle, who one-touched it home from 8 yards.
“I saw Eddie go out wide and Mauro was taking the near post,” Neagle said. “I was just trying to hold back in that holding spot around the (penalty spot). Mauro ended up chesting it down, and I just kept my head down and ran
Rosales contributed the next goal in first-half stoppage time, bending a 23-yard free kick into the upper left corner beyond the reach of goalkeeper Jon Busch.
“That was a great goal,” Quakes midfielder Sam Cronin said. “The only way to prevent that is to not give away a foul there.”
Neagle got his next goal early in the second half. He took a high, chipped pass from Servando Carrasco near a top corner of the penalty area, cut inside and then released his shot, which kissed off the bottom of the near post and into the net.
When Neagle was substituted out in the 86th minute, he received an ovation from the announced crowd of 38,880.
“I could definitely hear it,” Neagle said. “It kind of reminded me of 2011 when I had the hat trick (against Columbus). I was hoping for the same thing — something about these 1 o’clock games in the sun.”
Still, the Sounders weren’t done. Obafemi Martins came on as a second-half substitute after missing the previous two games because of a leg tendon injury.
In stoppage time, he got his second goal of the season, patiently sticking with a ball bouncing around in front of the goal and finally nudging it home.
“It was our day,” Martins said. “We played very well. I hope to continue winning and scoring a lot of goals.”
Regulars such as Shalrie Joseph, Steve Zakuani and Patrick Ianni remain out, but Saturday marked the seventh time in Sounders history the team has scored four or more goals. The four-goal margin of victory matched the club record.
The result evened Seattle’s record for the first time this season (3-3-3) and ended a four-game losing streak to San Jose (3-4-5).
The Sounders also concluded a run of three games in eight days with two wins and a draw.
“I think the start (of the season) was not that bad like it looked like, because we had chances and we had good games. It just didn’t have a result,” said goalkeeper Michael Gspurning, who has three shutouts in the past four games. “And now we have all the results, and it’s good now.”
Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 firstname.lastname@example.org/soccer