When Toronto FC visited Seattle back on April 30, it got drubbed 3-0, so you know the squad was looking forward to the Sounders heading north of the border for some retribution.
Coming in though, Toronto had gone seven games without a win. Seattle wasn’t feeling too much more confident thanks to injuries and inconsistent play.
Fredy Montero, speaking of inconsistent play, walked onto the pitch with a six-game goalless streak, one away from his career record. The Sounders manager Sigi Schmid had benched Montero earlier in the season in hopes it would rekindle his goal-scoring touch. That hadn’t worked, so for this match Schmid had promised a more roaming role for Montero along the front line.
Early movement from the Sounders had Mike Fucito hit the post in the second minute but Toronto piled on the pressure in the final minutes of the first half when Joao Plato forced Kasey Keller to make a diving deflection in the 36th minute and then missed on a shot at the final minutes.
The second half started out with Seattle playing more aggressive, at least until the 49th minute. That was the moment Seattle’s best defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado collected his second yellow card of the match and was forced to head for the locker room.
Seattle has played eight previous matches a man down. Its record for these matches was an ominous 0-6-2. Things didn’t look good when you’re looking at 41 minutes of short-handed play without your best defender and against a team looking to break their winless streak.
The Sounders changed its formation to a 4-4-1 and focused on working the set pieces. It was able to frustrate the much more aggressive Toronto team, working a 0-0 draw beautifully. It wasn’t pretty and Toronto had many more chances to break the draw but Seattle weathered the storm. Towards the end of regulation, the Sounders even managed to push the ball up, counter attacking the increasing desperation of the home team.
In the 89th minute, Mauro Rosales moved to take a pass from Erik Friberg and was fouled by Toronto defender Oscar Cordon. As the seconds of regulation ticked away, Montero lined up to take the free kick 28 yards from the goal.
Montero calmly and surely stroked a shot that cleared the wall and left Toronto keeper Stefan Frei gaping and grasping as the ball buried itself in the net. From that point it was a matter of holding on for four added minutes for Seattle to get out of town with 3 points.
Seattle managed that very well, especially considering it was down a man, consistently working the ball down into the corner and keeping it away from an increasingly frustrated Toronto team.
Man of the Match:
The choices are many, as every player had to work twice as hard when JKH had to leave. I have to give it to Fredy Montero though. Not only did he end his drought, he did it with a gorgeous goal, a definite goal of the week candidate.
When the whistle finally sounded, the Sounders finally won a short-handed match, one on the road in a very hostile place. The win takes their record to 6-4-7 with 25 points, solidly in third place in the west.
The New York Red Bull visits Qwest Field on Thursday, followed by New England coming on Sunday.
Photo credit: J.P. MOCZULSKI/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/CANADIAN PRESS