The Sounders have been on a run since the World Cup, getting 13 out of 15 possible points and leapfrogging back into playoff contention. There is enough time left for Seattle to cement a playoff run, but it will be close.
Strangely, this run coincides with Freddie Ljungberg leaving the team. I’m not going to bad mouth Freddie, I’m an Arsenal fan and remember watching his thrilling runs down the left side tearing apart the opposition, but this season has not been a good match for Freddie and for Seattle. His best position is the left midfielder, but circumstances have forced him to move into the middle. He’s also aged quite a bit since his Arsenal glory days and seems even more distracted by referees than he was back then.
Ljungberg’s departure allowed Seattle to acquire Alvaro Fernandez, a young defender from Uruguay. Combine Fernandez’s arrival with Swiss International Blaise Nkufo, a veteran who adds much needed height and strength to Seattle’s front line, and Seattle entered August not with a facelift but just a little touch up.
Fredy Montero has been scorching as well. Montero has scored 8 goals, leading the Sounders, and has had a hand in 9 other goals. He has been much more aggressive in the second half of the season, leading to a MLS Player of the Month award for July, and looks to be a strong contender for the Golden Boot award.
I hate it when a player from the other team has local ties. It bodes very bad things from the hometown boys because the returning prodigal son plays out of his head. Seattle fans are so nice they applaud the guy as he leads the opponents to a victory. For the first hour, it looked like Houston keeper Tally Hall was another local boy come home to a parade.
Montero tested Hall in the 25th minute, sending a shot from the right that Hall was just able to deflect wide. In all, Hall pulled off 7 saves, as Seattle outshot Houston 14-6 with 9 of Seattle’s shots on goal and none of Houston’s.
In the 64th minute, Montero took control of a long clearance by Seattle keeper Kasey Keller, shook the defender, and blasted a shot that left Hall gaping. Houston pushed forward, desperate for an equalizer as they have nosedived in the second half of the season.
Seattle was able to capitalize in the 88th minute on Houston’s aggressiveness when Montero set up Alvaro Fernandez in a breakaway goal that put Houston away from good.
Seattle’s record runs up to 8-8-4 with 28 points while Houston falls to 5-9-5 and 23 points.
Man of the Match: Fredy Montero once again pulled all the right strings for the Sounders FC.
Next up: Seattle hits the road to visit California and Chivas USA (5-10-3 and 18 points) on August 14th.