Timing couldn’t have been better for the Sounders. Facing a struggling Chivas USA (3-8-2), a club that fired coach José Luis Sánchez Solá on Wednesday and hadn’t won in its last seven matches, Seattle (5-4-3) cruised to a 2-0 victory Saturday night in front of 9,053 fans at Home Depot Center in Carson, CA.
Two-game losing streak snapped, embarrassment from Wednesday’s loss to the lower-tier Tampa Bay Rowdies over. Seattle hasn’t lost to Chivas (5-0-4) in their last nine MLS meetings.
The Sounders briefly welcomed back defender Osvaldo Alonso, but the Cuban was forced to leave early on when he pulled up lame with an apparent thigh injury. He was seen limping back to the locker room at halftime.
Seattle scored first for the first time in the past three matches when forward Obafemi Martins sneaked behind the Goats defense in the 20th minute and lobbed a shot over goalkeeper Dan Kennedy to give the Sounders a 1-0 lead. The score was Martins’ fourth of the season.
In the 33rd minute, Goats defenseman Mario de Luna cemented his place on SportsCenter’s “Not” Top 10 when Mauro Rosales lifted a cross into the Chivas box. De Luna tried to head the ball out of bounds, leaping into the air not far from his own net. Instead he lined it off his head and into the top-left corner of his own goal. Kennedy never even moved.
Own goal de Luna. 2-0 Sounders.
Seattle coasted through the second half until official Ricardo Salazar issued Martins a red card in the 71st minute after a collision that seemed accidental. Sounders fans may remember Salazar as the referee who issued six yellow cards, all to the Sounders, in the 2012 U.S. Open Cup final against Sporting KC in 2012. Coach Sigi Schmid was suspended one game and fined when he criticized Salazar during halftime of a 0-0 home draw against Real Salt Lake.
Up a man after Martins’ ejection, Chivas challenged late with multiple scoring opportunities but couldn’t convert. Seattle’s victory was their fourth win in their last five MLS games and gave them 18 points in 2013, good for their second best start in franchise history. They return home to take on Vancouver June 8.
Nice thing – Martens does not get called up to play for his National Team. Bad thing – the horrible call against him for a red card that has to be appealed. Nice thing – No Shalrie Joseph. Bad thing – Sounders continue to have a DP who is not adding anything to the team’s midfield. If Evans is going to play right back for the US National Team – why can’t Sigi put Evans in that position for the Sounders? Chivas is horrible, but still would never take Sammy Ochoa off of the Sounders hands. Have to hope that Ozzie is not hurt. The team does not have anyone close to his quality on their roster – even including a DP in Joseph. Andy Rose, Estrada – not ready to step up.
Whitecaps up next – without Eddie up front and possibly Ozzie – only wish that the Sounders would be more active in building up their bench and removing the dead weight that should be playing for Kitsap Pumas and not the Sounders.
The red card call was lame. The referees were calling a good match up until then. I see where they’re coming from but at best their judgement on it was 50-50. Should have been a non-call and they had several of those earlier. It’ll be hard to play without Martins as a result.