For the first time this MLS season, Seattle Sounders FC conceded the first goal and came back to win.
The turnaround was well-timed, transforming what could have been a disastrous loss into a 2-1 win over struggling Chivas USA on Sunday night at CenturyLink Field.
“Very important for us, the confidence the team shows today,” captain Mauro Rosales said. “Great character. We showed that we can change up – we came back from the negative result in the beginning. I think the team shows the character, the desire, the effort; and tonight we got the three points that we need.”
Only 16 minutes into the match, the Sounders looked up at the CenturyLink Field scoreboard and found themselves one goal down to the bottom-ranked team in the MLS Western Conference.
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And they knew that was mostly their fault because their defense broke down, allowing forward Erick Torres to charge in and beat goalkeeper Andrew Weber.
“It happens,” Weber said. “We’ve been there before. We showed great character tonight coming back, tying it up, and then going and getting the second.”
That equalizing goal came about seven minutes later from Brad Evans, and the winner came in the second half from Lamar Neagle.
“I thought we created more chances today, which was good,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said.
“I thought our possession was a little better, as well. I thought we knocked the ball around fairly well. (Chivas) is a team that obviously has improved themselves defensively.”
Until Sunday, Seattle had conceded the first goal in eight games and had gone 0-7-1 over those games.
The Sounders began turning this deficit into a victory in the 23rd minutes when Obafemi Martins rolled a pass into the box, where Evans equalized from about 15 yards.
When the halftime whistle blew, the Sounders had outshot the Goats, 10-2, but the score was even at one each.
Then Seattle opened the second half with a 10-minute rat-a-tat-tat of chances: a Marc Burch shot just wide, a cross into the box inches out of Martins’ reach, a Patrick Ianni header just over the bar, an Evans pass into the box just out of Neagle’s reach.
After all that, the Sounders finally broke through again in the 56th minute. The sequence began with a Rosales pass to Martins, who returned it to Rosales, who touched it on to Neagle about 15 yards from the goal. There, Neagle knocked home his fifth goal of the season, matching his career high.
“Good buildup by everybody,” said Neagle, a graduate of Jefferson High School. “And then Oba taking it down the line, getting a cross to Mauro and Mauro barely getting a touch on it perfect to me, and I just put it back where it came from.”
Rosales’ assist also ended a personal streak of 604 minutes without either a goal or assist.
The goal also proved to be the winner, and that win slipped the Sounders (8-7-4) back ahead of San Jose and into seventh place in the West, four points shy of playoff position with games in hand.
Seattle extended its home unbeaten streak to eight games (5-0-3), matching the club record. The team also extended its unbeaten streak against 4-12-5 Chivas to 10 games (6-0-4).
“In the first half, Chivas couldn’t have gotten a better result, in my opinion,” coach Jose Luis Real said. “In the second half, however, we played differently. The performance differed from the first to the second half and that’s the reason why we couldn’t get this game going.”
Schmid went with his 19th lineup in as many games. Notable was the first appearance of the MLS season by central defender Ianni, Burch remaining at left midfielder for the third consecutive game, midfielder Evans sliding inside, and Servando Carrasco in a reserve role after 12 consecutive starts.
The Sounders’ complete their three-game homestand Saturday when FC Dallas visits.
Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 firstname.lastname@example.org/soccer