The MLS returned last night, and Neil Sherwin looks at the opening game of the season as the Seattle Sounders took on the Philadelphia Union.
The Seattle Sounders kicked off their second MLS campaign with a comfortable 2-0 win over the Philadelphia Union in front of 36,241 at Qwest Field, a club record for a regular season game.
Union are the newest side in the MLS and gave a good account of themselves in their debut game, with veteran goalkeeper Kasey Keller needing to be in excellent form for the hosts.
American Brad Evans opened the scoring after just 12 minutes as he turned home a Steve Zakuani cross from inside the penalty area, giving Chris Seitz no chance in the Union goal.
Union striker Sebastien Le Toux almost levelled things in the 19th minute, but Keller got down well to save.
With 41 minutes on the clock, Union suffered a huge blow when defender Toni Stahl was sent off for a second yellow card.
The home side doubled their lead right on half time when Colombian Fredy Montero turned home a shot from team mate Osvaldo Alonso after Freddie Ljungberg’s corner had only been partially cleared.
Montero, the 2009 Newcomer of the Year, claimed two goals and an assist in Seattle’s 3-0 win over the New York Red Bulls on the opening day of last season.
“The first goal is always the most difficult goal or the most important one,” said Sounders midfielder Zakuani.
“Before the goal Philly were doing ok, once we scored we used our experience against them.
“We managed to keep the ball and control the game. We got the second and they go the red card and I never really felt like we were going to lose the game.”
The Sounders are seen as one of the strongest sides in the MLS this year and have been tipped by many to challenge for the big honours come the business end of the season.
“The good news for us is I think we can play a lot better soccer than we did tonight,” said Sounders coach Sigi Schmid.
“At times it was not our best soccer but sometimes you have to win some games where you don’t play your best soccer.”
The start of the season had been in doubt due to a players’ strike but a new five-year labour contract was agreed and the fixtures will all take place as scheduled.
Sounders FC – Kasey Keller, Zach Scott, Tyrone Marshall, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez, Roger Levesque, Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso, Steve Zakuani (Mike Fucito 76), Freddie Ljungberg (Sanna Nyassi 60), Fredy Montero.
Union – Chris Seitz, Jordan Harvey, Danny Califf, Toni Stahl, David Myrie (Jack McInerney 78), Andrew Jacobson, Danny Mwanga (Stefani Miglioranzi 46), Roger Torres (Amobi Okugo 71), Michael Orozco, Sebastien Le Toux, Alejandro Moreno.