On August 27th, 2011 the Seattle Sounders set a new single-game goals scored record in MLS play with a 6-2 victory over the Columbus Crew. On August 25th, 2012 the Sounders equaled that mark against Chivas USA. Both games featured a hat trick and own-goal in Seattle's favor, as well as a converted penalty kick by the opposition. Coincidence? Yes, with nearly 100% certainty. But Seattle stepping up the quality of their play in late summer is not a recent development. Given the way the Sounders have performed of late, they look more than capable of beating any team in MLS. The trick now is to keep the momentum rolling into the playoffs.
Seattle took the lead in the 10th minute after Fredy Montero split the defense with a through ball that was run onto by Brad Evans who coolly finished past Dan Kennedy. Montero doubled Seattle's lead in the 27th minute, finishing from a very tight angle after Mauro Rosales slid a clever ball into the area. Seven minutes later, Montero had his second; after losing his footing during a counter-attack, Montero recovered in time to regain possession, slid the ball to Eddie Johnson and continued his run. Johnson passed to Rosales who set up Montero's chip to put the Sounders up 3-0.
Chivas would get one back in the 38th minute after Juan Agudelo converted a penalty awarded for a Jeff Parke hand ball in the area. The Goats came out in the second half with a bit more purpose, and in the 64th minute they managed to make it a game; Miller Bolaños converted an excellent strike from just outside of the area, bringing Chivas to within a goal and making what once looked like a runaway Sounders victory look like it might be a nailbiter. The feeling wouldn't last; just three minutes later, Montero claimed his first hat trick as a Sounder with what might have been the best goal of the night; Montero took possession at the edge of the area, cut back into space between two defenders and drilled a low screamer just inside the far post.
Seattle turned a comfortable win into a rout in the 80th minute after Sammy Ochoa drilled a header past Kennedy from Christian Tiffert's cross to make in 5-2. Ante Jazic's cringeworthy own-goal in stoppage time rounded out the scoring, and with the three points and six goals Seattle leapfrogged Real Salt Lake to take second place in the MLS Western Conference. Though the Sounders and RSL are tied in terms of points, Seattle owns the goals-scored tiebreaker as well as holding two games in hand.
Despite the one-sided scoreline, there were some negatives; Seattle's back line had one of its poorest performances in recent memory and had Chivas USA's finishing been better this game could have been even wilder than it was in reality. It was uncharacteristic of the Sounders performances of late and was likely at least in part the result of tactical decisions, but it was nonetheless discouraging to see. Still, a 6-2 win is a 6-2 win; so long as these issues don't continue it's not something that's worth losing much sleep over. The positives far outweighed the negatives and it wasn't just the goals; Brad Evans was an absolute terror down the left, Fredy Montero and Eddie Johnson's chemistry continues to improve week-in and week-out, Mauro Rosales has finally looked like himself for an extended period of time and Michael Gspurning is clearly one of the best goalkeepers in MLS. Mario Martinez looked solid in his debut, and Steve Zakuani showed flashes of his old form.This Sounders team has the potential to be the best in the league, and wins like tonight's show why. And though the playoffs haven't exactly been kind to Seattle in the past, there are many reasons to be excited this time around.