The second game for the Seattle Sounders FC was not going to be the same as the first. This time things were different. The weather was rainy and cold. The new smell was starting to fade. The butterflies were not as strong. Fredy Montero is not an unknown quantity anymore. The Sounders tactics are on film for the league to see.
Some things do stay the same. The game was another sellout, although Qwest Field holds 67,000 and the tickets are limited to 30,000. The fans were loud and proud again, not sitting down from before the opening whistle until hitting the road home.
The game itself showed that the Sounders can win a much more physical match against a team determined to greet reigning MLS Player of the Week Fredy Montero with more than a handshake and less than a sledgehammer although an electronic reader board on the sideline works just as well sometimes. The defense was so punishing that the Real Salt Lake backline was cautioned more than once besides earning two yellow cards.
Real Salt Lake’s defense should have been paying more attention to Nate Jaqua. He was on the receiving end of a pass in the box that he redirected into the back of the net for the first goal in the 17th minute, giving him six goals in six games against RSL in his career. On the delivering end of the pass, Steve Zakuani, the first pick for the Sounders in the draft, left defender Tony Beltran for dead with a magnificent display of ball control before centering the pass to Jaqua.
With the score line at 1-0, the Sounders found themselves in a battle for the rest of the half. In the second half, Real Salt Lake poured on the pressure even more, looking for the equalizer from all parts of the field.
It was here that the signing of Kasey Keller paid off. He showed his top flight skills with five beautiful saves, keeping the RSL off of the score sheet, frustrating a very potent and aggressive attacking force. He showed just how essential a strong goalkeeper is to have a winning team.
In the 77th minute, Montero made RSL pay for the previous 76 minutes of punishment with an incredible shot from 27 yards out that completely blew past RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando. Montero’s goal put the final score to 2-0, the match out of reach for RSL, and touched off the celebrations in the terraces as finally the crowd could relax a little. The goal is in the running for goal of the week on the MLS website and put Montero on the top of the scorer’s table for the league so far.
The other Freddy, Freddy Ljungberg, also played for the first time this season. He came off the substitute’s bench to replace Steve Zakuani in the 61st minute. He seemed to move and play well coming off of hip surgery.
As one of the two last unbeaten teams (Chivas USA is the other) the Sounders are sure to have drawn some strong looks from the other teams in the MLS. It will be a challenge the team will have to face as they go on the road for the first time to play Toronto FC on Saturday, April 4th.Powered by Sidelines