The Seattle Sounders had gone 433 minutes without a goal.
Then one finally went in late Wednesday, and they made it count, opening CONCACAF Champions League with a road point from a 1-1 draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps at BC Place.
“Happy to see us get an equalizer,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “It had been a long time since we had hit the back of the net.”
The goal came from Lamar Neagle in the 72nd minute. It also came a month and two days after Tyrone Mears had scored Seattle’s previous goal in a Major League Soccer match with D.C. United.
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“Great,” Neagle said about how scoring the goal felt. “A little bit of relief. Going into the locker room at the half we felt like we should have had a couple. We felt like we were going to get a couple. We didn’t get a couple, but we’re still happy to have one.”
For the Sounders, the result was a dramatic improvement from the 3-0 MLS loss they had endured at the hands of the Whitecaps four days earlier in Seattle.
Only three Sounders — forward Chad Barrett and defenders Brad Evans and Dylan Remick — repeated as starters from the previous meeting. The rest of the lineup was composed of reserves such as goalkeeper Troy Perkins and midfielder Micheal Azira, and some deeper reserves such as midfielder Aaron Kovar and defender Oniel Fisher.
The young lineup came out fast and strong while largely dominating the first half, which ended scorelessly.
“I didn’t think we played with enough energy on Saturday night, so we wanted to be sure that we came out tonight and played with energy,” Schmid said. “I thought we showed good energy. We were a lot more aggressive going forward. We looked to play balls behind their defense more. I thought it was good. I thought we were unfortunate to go behind 1-0.”
That happened in the 61st minute, when defender Tim Parker redirected in a corner kick from Pedro Morales. That was a particular frustration for the Sounders because all three goals they had surrendered over the weekend also came on set pieces.
This time the Sounders responded 11 minutes later, when Andy Rose slipped a pass to Neagle who fired high and in.
That goal ended a streak of four consecutive scoreless matches for the Sounders, all of those coming in MLS.
“Phenomenal,” Evans said. “I think everybody was so happy, so excited. Little things like that hopefully can spur you on to better performances, and also you hope to score more goals obviously. … I think it was a goal that we needed so bad just to get things going a little bit, especially to go from 1-nil down and still bag that goal. And a great finish at that: He finds the top corner on a difficult angle. You leave with a good taste and a decent ride home.”
Seattle’s remaining CCL games are Aug. 19 vs. Olimpia at CenturyLink Field, Aug. 26 vs. Olimpia at Honduras, and Sept. 23 vs. the Whitecaps at CenturyLink Field.
“You want to win your games at home, and you want to get results on the road,” Schmid said. “Being able to come up here and get a point is good for us. We’re a team now that’s still searching to get back into our groove, and tonight I think was a big step in that direction.”
The Sounders return to their MLS regular season Sunday at the Los Angeles Galaxy.
SUNDAY: Seattle at Los Angeles,
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