Jordan Morris put the Sounders ahead to stay on a 66th minute header as the home side notched a 3-1 win over the visiting New York Red Bulls.
For much of his first three games this season, Mercer Island native Jordan Morris was doing everything but finish.
It was somewhat reminiscent of his initial five games last season before the Sounders forward finally broke through en route to winning MLS Rookie of the Year honors. On Sunday, with his team having let a second half lead slip away, Morris finally finished in close by heading a ball past keeper Luis Robles in the 66th minute to put the Sounders ahead to stay.
Harry Shipp then put a capper on this 3-1 victory over the New York Red Bulls by redirecting a Joevin Jones shot in the 79th minute for his first Sounders goal since arriving via trade from Montreal.
A record home opener crowd of 45,600 at CenturyLink Field, cheered, chanted and sang their enthusiasm throughout the closing 25 minutes as the Sounders used their speed to put things way and seal their first victory of 2017. The pregame festivities had included some stirring ovations as the Sounders unfurled the franchise’s very first MLS Cup chapionship banner.
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But the home team, now 1-1-1, knew it would have to play better in this game than it had in two prior contests on the road. The Sounders trailed 2-0 in both and had to turn things on late to salvage even their lone draw in Montreal last weekend.
Both teams came out somewhat cautiously the first 20 minutes of this one before the Sounders began opening things up.
Morris made a series of strong runs for balls and kept coming up just short. But on one attempt to play a ball in the air, Morris was upended by goalkeeper Robles in the box and referee Baldomero Toledo singaled for a penalty kick.
Clint Dempsey buried it just inside the right post to send the crowd into a frenzy and give the Sounders their first lead of the season.
The Sounders had several chances to add to their lead, the biggest coming in the 39th minute when Morris broke in behind defenders, but could not corral the ball enough to get away a strong shot. Red Bulls keeper Robles had raced forward to cut down the angle and Morris wound up shooting the ball straight into him.
New York notched the second half equalizer in the 57th minute when last year’s Golden Boot winner, Bradley Wright-Phillips, finally got free long enough against Gustav Svensson to bank a header in off the left post on a cross from Sal Rizzo.
But the Sounders took over the game from there.
Jones started off the go-ahead goal by completely undressing defender Zizzo with a nifty series of moves, then sent a nice cross to Nicolas Lodeiro. The Uruguyan chipped an ensuing ball to Morris, who headed it home.