The Sounders get second-half goals by Jordan Morris, who overcame an ankle injury, and Harry Shipp to improve to 1-1-1 on the season with a 3-1 win over the New York Red Bulls.
Sounders forward Jordan Morris was already frustrated by his latest round of misses Sunday when he suddenly had his own father chirping at him.
It seems his dad, Michael, who happens to be the team doctor, didn’t want his son playing in the second half after he tweaked a prior ankle injury. But Morris was having none of it, forcefully pleading his way back out there long enough to score the go-ahead goal in a 3-1 win over the New York Red Bulls that snapped a personal drought for him and his team.
“It takes some pressure off,’’ Morris said of the 66th-minute header for his first goal of the season. “I know last year was six games or whatever before (scoring) and the pressure starts to build and build. I know I had a few chances, and it gets frustrating. I know I have to get better at those.
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“But it definitely takes a little bit of the pressure off, and hopefully I can keep building from here.’’
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The crowd of 45,600 at CenturyLink Field, a home-opening record for a Sounders team that unfurled its championship banner pregame, leaped in a thunderous roar as Morris headed the ball in to cap a remarkable series of plays. Joevin Jones started things off by undressing defender Sal Zizzo with a nifty series of moves near the left corner.
Once by Zizzo, Jones sent a solid pass to Nicolas Lodeiro, who chipped the ball artfully toward Morris standing in the box. Morris had enjoyed a plethora of chances in close since the season began, but this time finally finished with a solid header that beat keeper Luis Robles to his left.
“I was just kind of lurking around the back post, hoping the ball would come in,’’ Morris said. “Nico played a perfect ball and didn’t leave me with much to do.’’
Harry Shipp would put the Sounders up by a pair in the 79th minute by redirecting a Jones shot for his first goal since coming over from Montreal. Clint Dempsey had the other Sounders marker on a first-half penalty kick while last year’s Golden Boot winner, Bradley Wright-Phillips, had the only New York goal to briefly equalize things in the 57th minute.
The Sounders (1-1-1) had entered badly wanting a victory after being fortunate to come away with a lone draw their first two road games. They looked tentative early on — with both teams feeling their way in front of the huge crowd — until Morris began opening things up.
Morris made a series of sprints past defenders for balls and kept coming close. On one such race for a Chad Marshall floater, he was knocked down in the box by keeper Robles, resulting in the penalty kick buried by Dempsey in the 29th minute to open the scoring.
Some 10 minutes later, Morris again got behind the defenders but failed to corral the ball enough to get off a strong shot. Robles charged out to cut down the angle and make the stop, while Morris went down in a heap and came up limping on the same ankle he sprained late in the preseason.
That led to a terse father-son exchange at halftime.
“He’s always in there trying to figure things out,’’ Morris said with a chuckle. “But it’s great. We were saying, ‘Let’s go out there for 10 minutes and see’ but it felt fine. … I always want to be playing. Didn’t want to come out of the game.’’
Morris had some help in his lobbying effort from Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer, who intervened and suggested the medical staff give him more time to test the ankle out.
“I was giving him some grief because his dad was talking about taking him off the field at halftime,’’ Schmetzer said. “We said no. Maybe that’s just the kid pushing back to the parent. But we left him out there.’’
And Schmetzer is glad he did.
“To score a goal I think did him a world of good,’’ he said. “He deserved one because, let’s be honest, he didn’t score on some of those earlier chances, but as long as he is creating those chances … that’s going to be good for us.’’
Uruguayan midfielder Lodeiro said the game was the first in which the team’s high-powered front unit freewheeled at will and demonstrated how explosive it can be. Loderio, Dempsey and Morris found the right passing lanes and had the Red Bulls on their heels the final 30 minutes.
“Little by little, we are getting closer together,’’ Lodeiro said, through an interpreter. “We are understanding each other better. And if we can keep progressing during the games, we will keep improving and improving.’’