By JASON MITCHELL
SEATTLE –- Eddie Johnson ended a four-year scoring drought Saturday against the Chicago Fire. He only waited four days to find the net again, opening the scoring in the Seattle Sounders’ 2-0 victory over the shorthanded Los Angeles Galaxy Wednesday night at CenturyLink Field. A thunderous wonder-strike from Fredy Montero just minutes into the second half secured the victory.
In the 40th minute, midfielder Mauro Rosales sent a volley from 30-yards out toward Johnson, who had set-up just outside the keeper’s box with his back to the net. A slight, glancing header redirected the ball just enough to zip it past Bill Gaudette’s outstretched arms.
While the Sounders had more of the game and deserved its 1-0 lead at the half, it looked like the Galaxy might still find a way to escape Seattle with a point.
That was before Montero stunned the sellout crowd in the 48th minute, launching a rocket into the top left corner of the net from 35-yards out. It was the first goal of the season for Montero, who had come close numerous times on the season and is known to score in bunches.
The pair of strikes give Seattle, which has started slowly in recent years, a shimmering 5-1-1 record in the early-going and provide hope it might have finally found the one-two punch it has long sought upfront.
"I don’t think it’s going to be the last time you see us play a game where both Eddie Johnson and Montero score in the same game," said Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid. "I think this is the first of a few that are going to go that way."
The loss drops the Galaxy to 3-4-1 on the season. The defending MLS Cup champions started the season a sluggish 1-2, but were unbeaten in their last three matches at 2-0-1 and appeared to be rounding into form heading into the match.
"We can’t keep saying it’s early," said Galaxy midfielder Landon Donovan. "We’ve gotten better, there’s no question, but we’ve gotta keep improving, and while we’re improving we’ve gotta start getting points. Saturday is a game that is very important now."
With a marquee match Saturday at home against the New York Red Bulls, Galaxy manager Bruce Arena opted to leave stars David Beckham and Robbie Keane at home.
"I think it’s a difficult week with the travel and playing on this surface," said Galaxy coach Bruce Arena. "We wanted to keep some players fresh for the game on Saturday. That’s decision I made. Whether it makes sense or not remains to be seen when we play on Saturday."
Donovan wasn’t looking to make an excuse out of the roster. "Historically we’ve done very well here with a mix of different lineups and personnel. This wasn’t a game we were out of by any means."
The victory at least temporarily ended the Galaxy’s dominance over the Sounders. Los Angeles had been 5-0-1 against Seattle in MLS play the last two seasons, including wins in both 2010 Conference Semifinals matches. The Galaxy were also 4-0-1 all-time in league play at Seattle.
Down 2-0, Galaxy coach quickly inserted Edson Buddle for Adam Cristman. Minutes later he also replaced Chad Barrett with Mike Magee. With substitutions made and the urgency of a two-goal deficit, the Galaxy was able to generate some possession throughout the second half, but created few scoring chances. Landon Donovan looked for the net from distance in the 62nd and 63rd minutes, but he struck his first shot directly at Seattle goalkeeper Brian Meredith and rolled the second weakly past the right post. Buddle’s lone shot sailed several feet high in the closing minutes.
The Sounders host the struggling Philadelphia Union (2-4-1) Saturday. Seattle goalkeeper Michael Gspurning did not return to the field for the second half. The team reported he suffered a right hip injury in the first half.
Here are the match highlights: