By JOSE M. ROMERO
So much came out of the Seattle Sounders' 2-1 come-from-behind win over the Chicago Fire Saturday night. Let's start with the obvious.
First, Seattle now has a seven-match unbeaten streak in MLS play.
Second, Fredy Montero scored twice, including an extra time goal that set off a wild celebration at Qwest Field. The striker and reigning MLS Player of the Week, with his play, continues to scoff at those who have doubted him and make a mockery of that "sophomore jinx" thing.
"You do all the hard work and when you win one like that and you score late like you do, it's such an outstanding feeling," coach Sigi Schmid said. "That's something that sometimes becomes defining moments for teams in a season."
Said Montero: "We have been dreaming about this situation and a goal so late in the game, giving us three points, got us closer to the playoffs."
Third, Seattle showed it doesn't need Freddie Ljungberg in its midfield to be a successful team, as good as Ljungberg was for the club last season. Moreover, the move to trade Ljungberg to the Fire is looking more and more like a genius move by GM Adrian Hanauer, as is the acquisition of Alvaro Fernandez. Ljungberg's replacements, including Fernandez, aren't losing all-important league games for the Sounders, and Hanauer didn't come away from the deal totally empty-handed.
The fans' boos for Ljungberg were unwarranted, however. Without him, the inaugural season wouldn't have been nearly as successful.
Fourth, The Sounders are right in the thick of the MLS playoff chase, currently holding down the sixth overall spot and fourth in the West.
Fifth, holding midfielder Osvado Alonso's return to form after some time out with injuries has been another turning point for Seattle.
Now, a few more things to ponder.
1. Anyone catch who had the assists in Saturday's game? Two guys who were practically afterthoughts last season, but whom the club decided to retain for 2010. Tyson Wahl (first career assist) was mainly used in U.S. Open Cup games last season and hadn't played in an MLS game since April 25. Nathan Sturgis delivered one of the most accurate balls all season on his game-winning assist to Montero, the first assist of 2010 for Sturgis. He didn't appear in an MLS game after Aug. 8 for the Sounders in 2009.
2. Goalkeeper Kasey Keller, and apparently the team, have the right attitude. After Seattle lost to Monterey in its most recent CONCACAF Champions League group match, 2-0, Keller said he "couldn't care less" about CCL, expressing his opinion about keeping the team's momentum going in league play. The Sounders aren't officially out of the CCL, but their next two group matches are on the road. Not looking good for advancement
Keller didn't completely dismiss the significance of winning CCL games, but the Sounders are taking care of business in MLS play right now.
3. The offseason was dotted with rumors and reports of Montero's departure. With the success he's had (10 goals, nine assists in 22 MLS games), expect international interest to be even higher for the 23-year-old Colombian. And the offers might be too tempting for Hanauer to pass up, unless the club makes Montero a designated player and shells out really big dollars. At this point, he's worth strong consideration.
The Sounders are on track for more success outside of league play. If they can get by Chivas USA in a 2010 U.S. Open Cup semifinal match Wednesday, they'll host the Open Cup final on Oct. 5 at Qwest Field.