Despite going down a goal in the 61st minute, the Seattle Sounders managed to battle back and stick the ball in the net to earn a draw on the road in the CONCACAF Champions League against the Whitecaps in Vancouver Friday, courtesy of Lamar Neagle.
Seattle had not scored in 439 minutes of play until Neagle’s tally. The match as a whole was bright spot for a Sounders side that had struggled executing and had lost four in a row entering the evening.
“I thought we showed good energy,” said Sounders coach Sigi Schmid. “We were a lot more aggressive, and we looked to play balls behind their defense more.”
Earlier in the week, Schmid had mentioned that a different roster would be the order of the day for the rematch against Vancouver. The Whitecaps had a similar plan, despite their 3-0 victory over the Sounders Saturday. Only three of the 22 starters remained from the Seattle-Vancouver match Saturday.
Whether it was the extra rest afforded the new starters, or the motivation to try to earn a place in the regular starting XI, Seattle looked much more dangerous on the ball and off it the second time against Vancouver.
The midfield, consisting of Cristian Roldan, Aaron Kovar, Andy Rose, and Michael Azira was much better in possession and smarter distributing the ball into the attacking third.
Other areas were still in need of improvement. Just as they had with all of their goals on Saturday, Seattle conceded on a set piece. In the 61st minute, a Whitecaps corner sailed in from the left side and Vancouver’s Tim Parker rushed to meet it. Parker redirected the ball with the outside of his right foot, sending it across the goal mouth and into the right side of the net to give the hosts the lead.
Neagle’s equalizer came 10 minutes later, when Andy Rose found an open Neagle inside the box. Neagle pivoted and struck the ball towards net with his first touch, sending it into the upper right 90 past Vancouver’s keeper, Paolo Tornaghi.
Neagle claimed that he felt relieved to score and hoped that his strike would help spur the Sounders.
“This year has been kind of a standstill for absolutely everybody,” said Neagle. “It’s good to get back on the board and hopefully we can keep this going.”
With the draw, Seattle sits at the top of Group F in the CONCACAF Champions League with one point and one road goal.
The Sounders are not out of the woods yet, however. Wednesday’s draw represented their second of eight matches in August, including two other Champions League fixtures against Honduran side C.D. Olimpia. Before that, the Sounders face the reigning league champs when they travel to the LA Galaxy Sunday.
Schmid hoped that the result on the road would prove an inspiration.
“We’re a team right now that’s still searching to get back into our groove,” he said. “I think that tonight was a big step in that direction.”