By JASON MITCHELL
SEATTLE – Aside from the pregame introduction of a certain newcomer, Saturday night at CenturyLink Field was perhaps most noteworthy for a backflip becoming increasingly familiar and a salute the Seattle Sounders hope becomes routine.
With 39,360 still buzzing from the introduction of Clint Dempsey before the match, the Sounders darted out to an early lead over FC Dallas and never looked back, riding goals from Obafemi Martins, Eddie Johnson, and Brad Evans to a 3-0 win.
In just the eighth minute, Martins found himself completely unmarked on a deep free kick from Mauro Rosales and rifled a short-range header past goalkeeper Raul Fernandez for the 1-0 lead.
The Nigerian’s trademark backflips ensued for the seventh time this season, and it didn’t take the Sounders long to add another goal.
In the 22nd minute, Evans floated a long through-ball over the Dallas back line to a streaking Johnson, who took a touch to gather himself before burying a right-footed shot past Fernandez for his fifth goal of the season and the 2-0 lead.
Johnson then stared up toward Demspey’s suite and offered a salute familiar to most any fan of the United States Men’s National Team.
“Obviously happy with the score line, happy that we got a shutout,” said Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid. “I thought we played very well in the first half, got on top of the game with the two-nothing lead.”
Evans polished off a long-ago decided game in the third minute of stoppage time, converting a penalty kick awarded by referee Edvin Jurisevic after David Ferreira bumped down Lamar Neagle in the area.
“The penalty in stoppage time was the icing on the cake,” Schmid said, “and gave everyone free haircuts.”
A national hair salon offers free haircuts to anyone presenting a Sounders’ ticket stub when the team scores three or more goals.
With the victory, the Sounders rose to 31 points on a 9-7-4 record and wrapped up an important three-game home stand with two wins and a draw. After an ugly stretch that saw them record just one win in five matches, the Sounders have now won two of three and look to be rounding into form just in time for Dempsey’s arrival.
FC Dallas had reason to hope the return of Blas Perez from duty with the Panamanian national team would spark an anemic offense, but it wasn’t to be.
The visitors never challenged goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann, failing to put a shot on frame all night. The only real Dallas threat came in the 69th minute, when Mauro Diaz got on the end of a pass into the box from Fabian Castillo and sent a shot just wide of the left post.
The loss left Dallas (8-6-8, 32 points) winless in nine straight matches, an 0-4-5 stretch that toppled them from the top of the Western Conference to sixth place and—for the moment, anyway—out of the playoffs.
To make matters worse, the shutout extended Dallas’ scoreless drought to a club-record 450 minutes. They last found the back of the net six games ago, in a 2-2 draw against the Philadelphia Union on June 29.
“I don’t think we created enough opportunities,” said Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman. “It seems like we’re very content with keeping the ball, but not really going anywhere.”
Seattle now leads the all-time series 6-4-1. The Sounders have also outscored Dallas 7-2 this season after Saturday’s trouncing and a 4-2 mid-May victory in Texas. The teams play for a third and final time on Oct. 19 at FC Dallas Stadium.
Looking forward, both teams are in action next weekend, with Seattle traveling to Toronto FC (3-10-8, 17 points) and Dallas hosting the Los Angeles Galaxy (10-9-3, 32 points).