Steve Zakuani and O’Brian White are the top scorers for the Seattle Sounders so far this season. Each has two goals for the team.
Both were out for the home match against Toronto FC this past Saturday. New fan favorite Mauro Rosales was also unavailable, being rested for a hamstring problem.
With Zakuani, everyone has heard about the horrific broken leg suffered against Colorado last week that ended his season. White had surgery to remove a blood clot from his leg and is out indefinitely.
With those three important cogs in the machine out of action, Seattle went into this home match short of depth and juggling a lineup.
It turns out that Brad Evans, the veteran who played for Sigi Schmid in Cleveland, was all the Sounders needed to take care of Toronto. Schmid moved Evans from the center to the right side. Erik Friberg, Nate Jaqua and Alvaro Fernandez took the three open positions in the starting lineup.
Nine minutes in, Evans crossed the ball into the box perfectly for Alvaro Fernandez (who was in the game for Zakuani on the left side). Fernandez headed the ball beautifully past Toronto keeper Stefan Frei for a goal.
Two minutes later, Sounders fans, over 36,000 of them, held up placards with the number 11 on them. For one full minute, the fans chanted Steve Zakuani’s name and honored the speedy favorite.
The Sounders were obviously inspired. This was the best match the team has played in every facet of the game in a while. Seattle dominated in every statistic, basically overwhelming the visitors.
In the 52nd minute, Sounders defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado intercepted the ball at midfield and hit Fredy Montero with the pass. Montero pushed the ball forwards to Evans, who didn’t make a mistake, filling the net for his first goal of the season.
Jaqua tried to open his 2011 account, barely missing out on several occasions before being substituted for by Roger Levesque at 72 minutes.
Three minutes later, Toronto’s Mikael Yourassowsky was whistled for a handball in the box. Evans lined up the penalty and quickly made the score 3-0 for Seattle.
Toronto managed to get some offense going late; Yourassowsky forced Seattle keeper Kasey Keller to make an acrobatic save on a shot in the final minutes.
Man of the Match:
It has to be Brad Evans. Evans led the way for his team, scoring two goals and assisting on the first goal by Fernandez. Evans has been a frustrating player for me to watch. He can be brilliant at times and head pounding frustrating, sometimes at the same time.
Evans came through golden against Toronto, as did the whole Sounders team. This win is their second straight shutout win and runs the unbeaten streak to a team-tying record six matches.
All the emotions could have turned out very different. Seattle could have taken the loss of three important players and gone down the drain. The results, and the support from the supporters, show that even if injuries hurt the team’s depth, the Sounders aren’t going down without a fight.
The Seattle Sounders play its next two matches on the road. It plays against DC United on Wednesday and then takes on Columbus on Saturday. Rosales is expected back soon.