Sounders FC fell a goal behind to the New England Revolution less than three minutes into its game Sunday at CenturyLink Field.
Suddenly needing at least two goals to win, the Sounders got them from one of the most likely sources on the roster and from one of the least likely.
The goal that eventually clinched Seattle’s 2-1 victory came from Alvaro Fernandez, who is now tied for the team lead with four goals.
But the comeback started with a free kick from defender Tyson Wahl – the first goal of his six-season MLS career.
“I didn’t know what to do with my celebration,” Wahl said. “… I was excited, and I just kind of ran around. I didn’t really plan out goal celebrations, but I’m excited to score my first goal and obviously excited that we got the win.”
It wasn’t surprising that Seattle would have new heroes Sunday because there were so many new faces in the lineup.
With the Sounders playing the middle match in a stretch of three games in six days, coach Sigi Schmid juggled the lineup. He stuck Mauro Rosales and Roger Levesque up top, gave Lamar Neagle his fourth career start, and inserted rookie Servando Carrasco into the spot that had been occupied at every minute of this season by Osvaldo Alonso.
“We’re finding different ways to win games,” said Schmid, whose team won its season-high third game in a row and is unbeaten in its last six (4-0-2). “Today, we had to come from behind. … But we showed good character.”
The new-look lineup stumbled early, failing to account for Sainey Nyassi on a short corner kick. Nyassi skimmed a weak shot across the penalty area through traffic, somehow beating Kasey Keller to the far post.
“I saw it so late, and then I thought I had it, but when I touched it, it was already past me,” Keller said. “I thought I just was able to get it onto the post, but it snuck inside. … It’s always nice when you give up a goal like that in the opening minutes that you can come back and win.”
The comeback began in the 34th minute when Wahl sent a free kick from just outside a corner of the penalty area into the far top corner.
“It was sitting well for a left-footed shot,” Wahl said. “I’m not sure if (goalkeeper Matt) Reis was out of position, but I thought it was possible to hit it that side. I just tried to keep it on frame and bend it just like a corner kick.”
Seattle moved ahead in the 40th minute on a very different kind of goal. This time, Rosales made a long run down the center of the pitch before passing forward to Roger Levesque high in the penalty area. Levesque touched the ball on to Fernandez, who beat Reis to the far post.
“I was just waiting there for the ball to come to me,” Fernandez said through a translator. “And when I hit it, I think the goalkeeper hit it and it still went in. … It is hard to have a goal against us so early. But this team has enough tools to fight back, and then keeping the calm, to get the goals that we needed.”
Seattle (8-4-7) hung on for its third straight win – dodging a bullet in the closing minutes when Zach Schilawski banged a shot off the crossbar.
The result left the Sounders four points behind league-leading Los Angeles.
New England (3-8-6) remained mired in last in the Eastern Conference.
“We’re down 1-0 and we’re two or three minutes into the game … but we’re going to figure it out and get it done,” Schmid said. “It’s a belief that’s starting to come through. That’s important. Different guys stepped up and did what they needed to do.”
The Sounders next open defense of their U.S. Open Cup with a game against the PDL Kitsap Pumas at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Starfire Sports Stadium in Tukwila.
The club returns to MLS play July 4 at Los Angeles.