SEATTLE - APRIL 30: Brad Evans #3 of the Seattle Sounders FC is congratulated by James Riley #7 after scoring a goal on a penalty kick against Toronto FC at Qwest Field on April 30, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. Seattle defeated Toronto 3-0. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Toronto FC 0-1 Seattle Sounders: Ten Man Sounders Pick Up Gutsy Win On Montero Free Kick

A 90th minute set-piece stunner from Fredy Montero gives Seattle three points after a strong and nervy second half performance.

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Toronto FC 0-1 Seattle Sounders: Stunning Fredy Montero Free Kick Gives Gutsy 10 Man Sounders Three Points

Seattle started well with Mike Fucito hitting the post a minute and a half in, but Toronto FC bossed the rest of the first half and very early went ahead on a few occasions, Nathan Sturgis curling in several dangerous free kicks that only just missed the target. Toronto packed the midfield with a 4-1-4-1 formation, playing with three central midfielders in something approaching a holding role, and with Mauro Rosales being man-marked into ineffectiveness and Lamar Neagle just plain ineffective Seattle'ss attack looked entirely nonthreatening.

The first half started far, far better with Seattle looking right on the cusp of scoring, but defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado was shown an exceedingly soft second yellow card in the 49th minute and the Sounders were down to ten men. Zach Scott replaced Lamar Neagle, who might have put in his worst performance of the season, with Fredy Montero shifting up top. Seattle's response was far from the expected bunker and counter however, and the Sounders continued to control much of the possession for the second half. Toronto was still dangerous on the counter however, and the second half was a back-and-forth battle of long spells of Sounders possession and dangerous Toronto counter attacks.

Toronto began to get the better of the play as time wore on, hitting the post on one scramble in the box, but it was a stunning curled free kick from Fredy Montero in the 90th minute that made the difference. Montero appeared to be nursing an injury for much of the game that robbed him of some of his speed, but he was nonetheless excellent in a deeper, freer role and the goal put the cap on one of his best performances of the season. Mauro Rosales stretched Toronto's defense late on as the home side went on the attack and won the free kick that Montero converted to give Seattle the lead, a decidedly more effective second half going a long way towards keeping the Reds backline honest and preventing the play from being pushed deeper into the Seattle end.

It wasn't the prettiest win of the season for Seattle but it was a gutty, professional performance that garnered the Sounders a much needed win. Going down to ten men away from home typically guarantees a tie as the most favorable result, but Seattle's determination and pushing for a win ultimately made a huge difference. The Sounders might not have been as dominant as hoped, but to take three points in this fashion is just as good. These games say a great deal about a team's character and determination to win and Seattle has to feel confident after their performance. With a shorthanded and struggling New York Red Bulls on tap after a short turnaround, the momentum picked up from this sort of result could help steer things in a very positive direction.

You can find video of Montero's goal here. For more on the Sounders, head over to SB Nation's Sounder at Heart.


Toronto FC-Seattle Sounders: Lineups

Alvaro Fernandez is in the 18 but apparently not 90 minutes fit just yet as Lamar Neagle gets the nod at left mid. Fredy Montero and Mike Fucito will start up top, and a solid performance from the two likely solidifies their standing as the first choice striker pairing. Bad news for Toronto FC; Alan Gordon and Julian de Guzman are both out of the 18. Former Sounder Nathan Sturgis starts for the Reds.

In other news, Arlo White says that Fredy Montero has been given a free role this evening. Montero has always been at his best (not only in terms of creating, but in terms of scoring as well) when given room to roam. This can only be a good thing.

Seattle Starting XI:

Keller; Riley, Parke, Hurtado, Wahl; Rosales, Alonso, Evans, Neagle, Fucito, Montero


Boss, Gonzalez, Scott, Friberg, Fernandez, Noonan, Jaqua.

Toronto Starting XI:

Frei; Eckersley, Harden, Henry, Borman; Sturgis, Yourassowsky, Stevanovic; Soolsma, Maicon, Plata


Kocic, Gargan, Morgan, Stinson, Gold, Cordon, Martina


Toronto FC-Seattle Sounders: It's Not Win, But It's As Close As A First-Half Road Game Gets

The Seattle Sounders have had to deal with a lot of misfortune so far this season, but over the past few weeks their performances have indicated that they still have the talent to compete with any team in MLS. As that reality has become apparent, the frustration of the Sounders faithful has turned from poor circumstances to poor results. Seattle's 3-0 pasting of Toronto FC was followed immediately by an embarrassing loss to a mediocre DC United team. The win that ended Real Salt Lake's record home winning streak came on the heels of a 1-0 loss to FC Dallas at home. Seattle's last game might have been the most frustrating of the season; for 75 minutes, the Sounders looked the far superior side but still trailed 1-0. Two goals in quick succession seemed to have righted the ship, but one of the best goals in MLS history ensured things ended on level terms.

That's been the way it's gone this year for the Sounders. The performances have been almost uniformly solid (save DC United away) but the results haven't come as often as they perhaps should. At a certain point, this team needs to start winning the games it should. Points dropped are points dropped, and while good overall performances are always encouraging three ugly points are preferable to an impressive draw any day of the week. Toronto FC aren't an especially good team, but while they've won only twice at home this season they've lost only twice as well while picking up five draws. Toronto have earned some solid results at home, not least of which was a 0-0 draw to LA Galaxy in mid-April.

Unfortunately for Toronto, they've also put up a few shockers. Most embarrassing is without question the 6-2 loss to Philadelphia, a game which the Union entered having score all of eight goals on the season. The Sounders win in the reverse game earlier in the year was as dominant a performance as Seattle has put on display in the MLS era. Point being, while there are reasons that a draw might not be totally shocking, there aren't really any reasons to find it an acceptable result. Toronto FC is just a very poor team at the moment, still struggling to find their identity under Aron Winter and without Dewayne DeRosario.

The good news for Toronto is that Alan Gordon will be starting as opposed to the last time these two teams faced off. Gordon and Maicon Santos are a formidable attacking pair through the center of the pitch. Toronto's 4-3-3 formation is very dependent on the play of their twin holding midfielders (most likely Julian De Guzman and former Sounder Nathan Sturgis) who are responsible for shielding a very suspect back line. Despite employing one of the best keepers in MLS in Stefan Frei, Toronto have surrendered a league-high 25 goals. If ever there were a remedy for Seattle's scoring woes, facing Toronto FC's defense may very well be it.

While it's still anyone's guess as to who starts up top for Seattle, the rest of the lineup seems mostly settled at this point. If Alvaro Fernandez is healthy, he should start on the left. Brad Evans and Osvaldo Alonso seem a safe bet in the center, while Mauro Rosales has been Seattle's best player in recent weeks on the right. Jeff Parke and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado appear to have cemented themselves as the first-choice center back pairing, while James Riley starting at right back is almost a given and Tyson Wahl looks to have usurped Leo Gonzalez as preferred left back. As far as the strikers are concerned, expect to see Fucito and Montero once again; they were a solid pairing against Vancouver and while Nate Jaqua is probably the preferred option over Fucito when he's in good form, Jaqua hasn't been in anything close to good form since the beginning of the year. Still, it's anyone's guess; any two of the three would be little surprise.

The nature of qualification for the MLS playoffs being what it is, Seattle would have to collapse pretty spectacularly not to make the postseason. But this team wants to take a step up from last year and build some momentum ahead of what should be an interesting transfer window, these are the kinds of games they absolutely must win. Despite their place in the standings, the Sounders just aren't anywhere close to an elite team right now; a front-loaded schedule and allowing fewer than a goal a game have been largely responsible for that, but to hang around the top of the standings they'll have to do a lot better than 1.22 goals scored per game. In that sense Toronto are a good team to see in this situation, but the downside is this; another incomplete performance and points dropped against a team as poor as Toronto will not do anything to improve the spirits of the team or the fans. It's been said before and it will continue to be said until it starts happening with some sort of regularity; sometimes, you've just got to dominate inferior opponents.

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