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Friday, August 24, 2012 - Page updated at 09:00 p.m.

Sounders FC thriving on first goals

By Joshua Mayers
Seattle Times staff reporter

TUKWILA — The importance of scoring the game's first goal goes without saying; each MLS team has a significantly better record when doing so.

This season, Sounders FC has taken that to the extreme.

No team in the league has a better record than Seattle's 11-0-1 when scoring first. On the other hand, the Sounders are the sole team yet to come back after conceding the first goal and win.

An 0-6-4 record after allowing the first goal is particularly surprising after earning an MLS-high seven comeback wins in 2011.

So what happened to that late-game magic?

"We've had some opportunities for comebacks; we haven't taken advantage of those in the same way that we did last year," said coach Sigi Schmid.

"Obviously we can do better," added midfielder Brad Evans. "We can do a better job fighting a little bit, but it's been the story since day one: We're going to get (scoring) chances in games. If we finish our chances, we're going to give ourselves a good opportunity to win a game or at least come out with a tie. I think at some point you'll see if we do go behind — hopefully we won't — that we'll come out with the victory in a couple of those."

There's little to complain about when it comes to protecting leads.

The last time the Sounders lost a regular-season game when scoring first was the 2010 regular-season finale in Houston. Seattle has gone 22-0-4 in those games since.

"That's something we can be extremely proud of," said Evans. "I think that's extremely important."

When it comes to late-game comebacks, MLS-leading San Jose has clearly been this season's best — something the Sounders experienced firsthand in a last-minute loss at Buck Shaw Stadium earlier this month. The Earthquakes have a league-best .500 winning percentage when allowing the first goal (4-4-4) and trailing at halftime (3-3-3).

"I'd rather have us not be a team that has to come back week after week," Schmid said. "San Jose's done it a lot this year; their record shows it and they've been very successful. But sometimes that luck runs out."

Smith ecstatic about

chance with Sounders

Dawyne "Rick" Smith's arrival to Seattle was a little delayed after June's waiver draft. The 24-year-old Jamaican needed some time to earn his master's degree in business education from Bethel University and, meanwhile, had been playing for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds of the USL Pro.

The wait is over and he's admittedly "ecstatic" to be able to compete for a spot on the Sounders roster.

"These are the things you dream about," said Smith, who can play as a wide midfielder or forward. "These are the guys that you watch day in and day out on the television, and to be actually rubbing shoulders with them, and those guys showing you the same level of respect, it makes you feel much better about your chances and moving forward into the professional level."

Notes

• Midfielder Osvaldo Alonso earned his U.S. citizenship three months ago, which had many fans wondering if the former Cuban national would ever be able to play for the U.S. men's national team. Seattle's two-time All-Star said his agent continues to look into the situation. "Maybe soon I'll get a final response," Alonso said. "I hope it's going to be good for me."

• Rookie defender Andrew Duran underwent surgery to his left knee Wednesday to repair a torn ACL and slightly torn meniscus. Seattle's first-round pick in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft suffered the injury while on loan with the Atlanta Silverbacks of the NASL.

Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or jmayers@seattletimes.com.

On Twitter: @joshuamayers

Hot and cold
The Sounders have the best record in MLS this season when they score the game's first goal.
Record when

scoring first

Pct.
Sounders FC 11-0-1 .958
Chicago 7-0-1 .938
Real Salt Lake 11-1-0 .917
New York 9-0-2 .909
Houston 10-0-3 .885
The Sounders are the only team in the league that hasn't won a game this season after allowing the first goal.
Wins after conceding

first goal

Sounders FC 0 in 10 games
Colorado 1 in 12 games
Philadelphia 1 in 12 games
Portland 1 in 12 games
Chivas USA 1 in 10 games

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