The Seattle Sounders returned to winning ways with a 1-0 victory over Real Salt Lake, courtesy of a deflected strike by Harry Shipp just before half-time.
One of the biggest criticisms of the Seattle Sounders this season, has been the failure to turn their possession and chances into more goals. As such, it made sense their winning strike on Saturday would come as a result of a deflection.
As has often been the case, the Sounders once again dominated their opponent, with 65.2 percent of the possession and a 17-11 edge in opportunities created. And yet, if it hadn’t been for a wicked deflection off a Shipp’s effort in the 42nd minute, their winless streak might have extended to five games.
As the midfielder’s effort bounced off Reagan Dunk and sent Nick Rimando the wrong way, it brought to mind the saying that sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. And certainly, when you’re struggling to get positive results, you’ll take a victory any way you can get it.
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This is not to say the Sounders didn’t deserve their good fortune. After dominating the play – more in the first half — they missed the chance to create some breathing space, when Clint Dempsey saw his penalty effort easily saved in the 54th minute.
As a result, there were some nervous moments during the second half, as RSL stepped up their game and forced Stefan Frei to make some crucial saves. In any event, no matter how the victory was gained, it was both welcomed and desperately needed.
While this was only the Sounders’ third win of the season, at least it keeps them within touch distance of a playoff spot. And with 12 of their remaining 22 games at CenturyLink Field, the home-friendly schedule will help the push to repeat last year’s success.
Interestingly, part of the reason Shipp was in position to score the winning goal, was down to Brian Schmetzer telling him to be more aggressive. He discussed his head coach’s advice with SportspressNW.com‘s Andrew Harvey and other members of the media after the game:
"“The last few games, I played being too deferential,” Shipp said. “I’ve made a conscious effort to say, ‘Have belief in your own abilities. You’re playing with a bunch of good players, but there’s no need to be deferential. That’s going to be more conscious in my mind the rest of the year.”"
Adding to the feel-good factor emanating from the 1-0 win over RSL, Osvaldo Alonso was back in the starting lineup and Brad Evans lasted 66 minutes. Their presence will be key next weekend, when the Sounders host arch rivals the Portland Timbers, for what will surely be a high-tempo, passionate affair.
What’s your take from Saturday’s performance versus RSL? Now that the Sounders have returned to winning ways, do you expect them to build on the result moving forward? Share your thoughts in the comments section.