There was symbolism in the Sounders’ final sub during their 1-0 win over rival Vancouver on Saturday at CenturyLink Field, if you’re into that sort of thing.
There was a passing of the torch in the Sounders’ final sub during their 1-0 win over rival Vancouver on Saturday at CenturyLink Field, if you’re into that sort of thing.
The afternoon began with the awarding of a golden scarf to Gary Wright, a former team executive described in the ceremony as the “patriarch of Sounders FC.” It ended with the club’s presumed future slapping hands with an active totem of its past.
Zach Scott, who announced his intention earlier this week to retire at the end of this season at the age of 36, came on as a 93rd-minute substitution to make his 348th career appearance for the club. Scott replaced Jordan Morris, the 21-year-old rookie from Mercer Island who’d just netted one of the biggest goals of his young career to settle the rivalry match.
“That was not scripted,” interim Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer said afterward. “They were sending (defender Kendall) Waston up front, and I needed Zach to win some headers.
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“(Scott) deserves a lot of credit for that locker room. He’s been the constant, when the new guys come on board, he’s imparted what it means to be a Sounder. … But it wasn’t just a choice of ‘hey, let’s get Zach in this game.’ I actually needed him to defend and win some of the headers late in the game.”
– Vancouver coach Carl Robinson got his first glimpse of Morris back in March, when his Whitecaps bested the Sounders 2-1 on this same field. Robinson’s praise was just slightly short of gushing when asked to describe how the rookie forward’s game has progressed in the meantime.
“He never stopped working,” Robinson said. “He’s playing with confidence. With all young players, it’s important to stick with them when times are tough. … The boy’s got a lot of confidence. He’s making the right decision at the right times. … He’s got a bright future.”
– The Sounders continue to lack production from right wing in the absence of Clint Dempsey, who was again out of the game-day roster after undergoing evaluations for an irregular heartbeat.
Cristian Roldan, who started there at San Jose, was again moved back into defensive midfield, where he partnered ably with Osvaldo Alonso. Starter Alvaro Fernandez, though, again had another forgettable outing on the wing.
“It was steady,” Schmetzer said. “… His positional sense was very good. His passing was good. I thought it was a very good performance by Flaco. He’s part of the group. I thought the whole group today had a very good attacking performance
– At this point, it’s unlikely Nelson Valdez will ever live up to the Designated Player contract he inked with Seattle last summer. But that’s not the same thing as saying he’s got no value to the team at all, and the Paraguayan again showed well as a second-half substitute. Valdez’s hustle is disruptive, and his hold-up play is particularly valuable when trying to see out a late lead.
“A really tremendous performance,” Schmetzer said. “He had a really calming effect on Jordan. You can’t lose track of that. … I have a bench where I can bring players on and they can actually have an impact on the games.”