The Seattle Sounders flashed their star power Sunday in a town that knows something about stars.
Designated players Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey produced all of Seattle’s goals in a 3-1 win over expansion New York City FC at Yankee Stadium.
Martins recorded his fifth and sixth goals of the season, while Dempsey picked up his fifth goal and fourth assist.
“Nothing surprises me with those two guys,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “I see them at practice all the time, and they’re able to conjure up magical stuff. They’re unique and special, and we’re happy to have them.”
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In this nationally televised match from the Big Apple, they didn’t just score goals but jaw-droppers:
In the 23rd minute, Marco Pappa sent a pass to Martins behind the New York defense. He carried just inside the penalty area and beat keeper Josh Saunders to the near post.
In the 58th minute, Martins worked defender Chris Wingert near the end line until he finally created enough space to send a pass across the box. Pappa ran it down and then dropped the ball back to Dempsey, near the top of the area. He made a quick move and then placed a slow-rolling shot inside the far post.
In the 66th minute, the Sounders strung together a sequence of 17 passes. The 18th was a back-heel from Dempsey to Martins, who streaked through the defense and fired inside the far post.
“We work well together,” Dempsey said. “We rely on each other to create chances for each other. … I think the more touches that me and Oba get in a game and the more looks that we can combine with each other: Good things happen.”
New York actually controlled much of the first half, dominating possession and shots.
Then City tied the game in the second half on a goal by Mehdi Ballouchy. However, that lasted for only four minutes before Dempsey’s game-winner, followed by Martin’s finale.
“Obviously, you have great players up front in Obafemi and Clint,” Schmid said. “They can always conjure up a goal. Once they equalized the game, we dug a little deeper. I thought our defending was pretty resolute the whole game. We bent at times, but we were pretty solid.”
The Sounders became the first team to score more than two goals against NYCFC, and also the first to score more than two on the small Yankee Stadium pitch.
“It takes you a while to get used to it,” Schmid said. “It’s not so much the size of the field as it is when a baseball field gets laid out, when you’re standing out there you almost don’t think the 18-yard line is parallel to the sideline. … But I thought the field played well. The grass was a little bit long, a little bit heavy — slow that way — but overall it played all right.”
Seattle’s third consecutive win moved its record to 5-2-1; third in the Western Conference by points, but first by points per game.
NYCFC failed to win for the seventh consecutive game and fell to 1-5-3.
The Sounders will return home to train this week before heading East again to face the Columbus Crew on Saturday.