United strike early, cruise to win in Seattle

As if shaken to their senses after a sleep-walk, the men of Arizona United furiously attacked the host Seattle Sounders 2, and earned a 2-0 victory Wednesday night. Newcomers Gibson Bardsley and Chris Cortez tallied for United, while stalwarts including Carl Woszczynski and Daniel Antúnez kept a talented Seattle team off the scorecard.

Early in the match, Arizona pushed forward, gaining and sustaining possession in Seattle’s half, and creating chances in a way that felt somewhat unfamiliar. Indeed, the wins in United’s brief history have been marked by opportunism on the counter, and rarely were fans treated to the kind of forward-thinking offense generated by Cortez, Bardsley, and their cohorts in the midfield, Blair Gavin and Sam Garza.

On the wings, overlapping fullbacks Antúnez and Brock Granger were relentless in their pursuit of the Seattle attack, winning many balls and making smart plays forward.

Eventually, the pressure was rewarded when Bardsley was left alone to power a header past S2 goalkeeper Charlie Lyon, putting Arizona in the goal column for the first time in 2016 and opening his own account with the club.

Soon thereafter, Cortez made a nifty run down the left and received his through ball in stride before deftly beating Lyon to the far post.

This being the second game in five days for each team, the play down-shifted from there, though not without moments of drama, such as a scary point in the second half when Woszczynski was upended during a mighty punch-out and appeared to land on his shoulders or chest. The big man recovered and seemed fit after a few minutes, though.

The win puts the Firebirds in a much better position heading into another challenging contest Saturday night in Sacramento. United is of course winding through a five-game road swing to open the season until facilities at Peoria Sports Complex are made “match-fit,” if you will.

Sacramento Republic is 1-0 after defeating S2 this past Saturday on the strength of a Thommy Stewart penalty kick.