The Seattle Sounders FC did not wish to offend. They wanted, though, to be very offensive.
With goals in short supply, the emphasis in practice this week was penetrating the net of the Eastern Conference’s leading team, the New York Red Bulls. The Red Bulls had yet to taste defeat since moving to their new stadium this season in Harrison, New Jersey.
The issue for coach Sigi Schmid’s Seattle team became increasingly critical after last week’s match against the Western Conference’s pacesetters, the Los Angeles Galaxy. The 4-0 blanking prompted an embarrassed Sounders management to issue a refund to season ticket holders.
Those fans were provided with a credit applicable for one game in a 2011 season package, costing the club an estimated $1 million.
If there was one Sounders player who felt more embarrassed than anyone in the team’s worst ever home loss last week, it figured to be forward Fredy Montero. He was pulled from the contest at the 58 minute mark and replaced with 18-year-old recent Colombian signee Miguel Montano and watched most of this contest from the sideline.
It was a moment presaging high drama as Mr. Excitement Montero, a high impact forward with an aggressive attacking style, was inserted into the match at the 77 minute mark, replacing Sanna Nyassi.
Eight minutes later Montero created his magic. Montero took a pass from Brad Evans, who played his finest game of the season, leading attack after attack toward the New York goal.
Montero surged goalward. The ball moved swiftly from his chest to his thigh to his left foot. Rangy New York goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul dove forward and challenged, but the bullet-like Montero thrust landed in the net.
So Seattle had the only score of the night at the game’s 85th minute, but another five minutes remained with stoppage time included. Considering the difficulties the Sounders have encountered all season from added time victory was anything but certain.
The Red Bull Arena faithful of 17,900 summoned the league leaders on, and valiant efforts were made. Standing tall in the wall of resistance for Seattle was defender Tyrone Marshall, whose play was solid the entire evening.
Meanwhile the Sounders aided their own cause by keeping the ball away from the Red Bulls for an important segment of the late game interval.
The result was a crucial victory that Seattle out of the Western Conference cellar.
Veteran goalkeeper Kasey Keller earned his third shutout of the season.
The loss was the second in a row for New York and dropped the home team to a 5-3-0 mark with 15 points. The Sounders evened their record to 3-3-3 with 12 points earned.
The Sounders will be back in league play next Saturday afternoon as they host San Jose, the team that shut out New York 4-0 last week.
On May 26, Seattle hosts tough Boca Juniors of Buenos Aires in a friendly.