Drilling down on: at Seattle 2, Chivas USA 1

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SEATTLE, Wash. – They may not have been able to replicate the 6-2 drubbing delivered in Carson, but after seeing Eddie Johnson head home an 89th minute winner, the Seattle Sounders move second the Western Conference, defeating Chivas USA, 2-1.

Man of the Match: It takes a strong effort to take MotM away from somebody who scored the winning teams’ only goals, but go through the players and ask “who would I want on my team, based on today’s performances” and it’s hard to argue against Fredy Montero.

With Mauro Rosales out, Montero spent much of the afternoon running away from goal, promoting the connection with the Sounders’ midfield. Early in the second half, Montero nearly passed the Sounders in front, turning on a pass from midfield to play a ball behind the right side of Chivas’s defense, the ensuing Steve Zakuani shot stopped after a great read from Dan Kennedy.

Just before full time, however, Montero beat Shalrie Joseph to a ball down the left, floating a perfect cross to Eddie Johnson for the game-winning goal.

Packaged for takeaway:

  • Eddie Johnson will win most’s Man of the Match honors, and with good reason. Seattle’s main striker is up to 14 goals on the season after his brace, his two headed scores putting the first-year Sounder within one of his career high.
  • That Seattle needed such a late goal (89th minute, on the second) to defeat Chivas casts this match in stark contrast to the teams’ last meeting, a 6-2 Seattle romp in Los Angeles.
  • To figure out why, all you had to do was look at Chivas USA’s defense. In L.A., Robin Fraser started John Valencia and Bobby Burling. Today, it was Danny Califf and Raushawn McKenzie.
  • It was when that duo was broken up that Chivas’s day fell apart. In the 62nd minute, Fraser brought Tristen Bowen on for Califf, dropping Shalrie Joseph back to central defense. The move made sense given how much trouble Bowen gave Seattle left back Leo Gonzalez at Home Depot Center, but when Joseph had to pull Montero down in 66th minute (the first time he was seriously tested), Joseph looked out of place.
  • Moments before the game-winning goal, Joseph had dropped eight yards deeper than McKenzie to give his partner a passing option. After McKenzie instead played the ball into midfield, Joseph didn’t get back in line, giving Montero extra space to hit top gear ahead of an Alex Caskey pass. Even after Montero beat him to the ball, Joseph was never able to make up the gap and was unable to contest the deciding cross.
  • The big question: Why would Fraser, tied 1-1 at CenturyLink (after losing 6-2 when the teams last met) roll the dice like this? Playing Joseph slightly out of position when his team was in position to get a point?
  • The main argument in Fraser’s favor is the standings. If Chivas had won, they’d be six points back of Vancouver with two matches in hand. A draw, and that gap is eight. Of course, the loss leaves them nine points out of fifth, but in Fraser’s defense, there’s a huge difference between being six back (almost controlling your own destiny) and chasing eight points.
  • For Seattle, there was also a huge difference between a win and a draw. Three points moves them second in the West, now one point ahead of Real Salt Lake. Still, holding two matches in hand, it’s likely Seattle would have passed RSL at some point, even without a win today.
  • The win does, however, allow Seattle to carry some momentum into next weekend’s big match in Portland, a derby that remains highly anticipated despite the Timbers’ struggles. Last time Seattle was in Portland, they were upset, 2-1.
  • The result was one the first things out of Sigi Schmid’s mouth when asked about the impending matchup, the Seattle’s coach making it clear “Cascadia Cup’s important to us … We want to put ourselves in position to win Cascadia Cup.”