First, the important thing: The Sounders’ third “pitch black” kit, which they wore in their 2-0 victory against the Montreal Impact, looked, well, maybe Herculez Gomez said it best:
@SoundersFC Those unis are so sick.
Second, the match was pretty solid, too – well worth the 24-hour snow delay and drama surrounding Clint Dempsey’s two-game suspension.
The victory gave Sounders’ fans an idea of what they might expect during national team games, as the team was also without captain Brad Evans, out with a calf injury.
Those absences left coach Sigi Schmid with some juggling to do, and what we saw was interesting: a 4-3-3, with Obafemi Martins, Kenny Cooper and Lamar Neagle up top, and a defensive midfield composed of Andy Rose, Osvaldo Alonso and, for the first time as a starter, Gonzalo Pineda.
It all worked rather well, as Pineda’s presence was felt in the opening minutes on a free kick that was perfectly placed for Neagle, who headed it off the far post, where it ricocheted into the net. Montreal keeper Troy Perkins was credited with an own goal, but Neagle might be right to disagree.
The first half featured plenty of Seattle pressure, with a heartbreaking near miss from Neagle minutes later – following a pass from Martins, he saw his shot deflect once again off the post, though this time not for a goal.
Martins nearly had his first goal of the season in the 17th minute, as he headed a Neagle cross perfectly … though it was stopped on a miracle save by Perkins.
Oba got his goal, though, in the second half, after Cooper collected a deflected Neagle pass and crossed it beautifully. All that was left to do was head it home, which he did, and that was that – Montreal had some shots here and there, but the game never appeared out of hand, and the Sounders left with three points.
The List of Other Notable Things:
Thing No. 1: Neagle, Martins and Cooper in a 4-4-3 was beautiful. It will be interesting to see what happens when Deuce is back, but for now, let’s enjoy watching those three work together. There’s some magic there. The partnership certainly suited Neagle, who had easily his best game of the young season.
Thing No. 2: Pineda may have just displaced Marco Pappa as a starter. Great on set pieces. Creative in the midfield. Easy chemistry with his teammates. Sneaky pickup, he was.
Thing No. 3: Once again, the hack-a-DP strategy was used against the Sounders, this time mostly by Hassoun Camera, who finally got a yellow after a game filled with fouls. Funny how using cards will calm players down and allow a game to be controlled, eh?
Thing No. 4: Even at age 34, Djimi Traore is good for a bicycle kick attempt.
Things No. 5, 6 and 7: Several players made their 2014 Sounders FC debuts, including Ugandan defender Micheal Azira; left back Leo Gonzalez, finally recovered from his groin surgery; and forward Cam Weaver, who began his career with the USL Sounders in 2006.
Thing No. 8: The Impact will be much, much better when they get Marco Di Vaio back. Somehow Andrew Wenger isn’t quite the same.
(image courtesy of USA Today Sports)