Thus far, Scott Sealy’s Major League Soccer season has been something akin to the Mamba at Worlds of Fun.
There have been ups and downs. Actually, make that downs and ups.
Fortunately for Sealy, and the Wizards, his season is at an apex. His goal in the second half last Saturday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., salvaged a 1-1 draw with the New England Revolution and an important point as the Wizards make a final push for the Eastern Conference playoffs.
It marked the fourth game out of the last five in which Sealy, a second-year forward from Trinidad & Tobago, had scored a goal and gave him the team lead for the year with eight (along with one assist).
Yet ask Sealy how his season is going, and he responds with a weary look and shrug.
“I think this season has been emotionally draining,” he said.
Sealy’s numbers are quickly approaching the nine goals and two assists he put up during a stellar 2005 season. And yet, those stats didn’t seem to mean much when the Wizards opened preseason training camp back in mid-February. The club had just acquired striker Eddie Johnson from FC Dallas. They already had veteran forward Josh Wolff. All of a sudden, Wolff and Johnson, both of whom were slated to be on Bruce Arena’s U.S. World Cup squad, were talked about like they were the Wizards’ version of the Dream Team.
But that left no room for Sealy, who suddenly found himself as odd man out on the Wizards’ front line. “At the beginning of the season, there was nothing I could do right that would get me in there,” he said. “I think (then-coach) Bob Gansler had his starting lineup in his mind, and it wasn’t going to change.
“I just continued to train hard and wait for my opportunity.”
Sealy’s first opportunity came when Wolff and Johnson left early in the summer to be with the National Team for the World Cup. Wolff and Johnson returned in mid-July, but a series of minor injuries to one or the other provided Sealy with more opportunities and, this time, as he put it he “grabbed those opportunities with both hands.”
He scored the goal in a 1-0 win over FC Dallas Aug. 27 at Arrowhead Stadium. He scored the first goal in a 2-2 tie with the New York Red Bulls three days later at home. He scored just 36 seconds into a 4-1 home throttling of the Colorado Rapids Sept. 9, before his second-half heroics last Saturday in Foxborough.
Until his hot foot cools off, Sealy can count on remaining in the starting lineup.
“As of late, Scotty’s made the most of his opportunities by putting the ball in the net,” said Wizards interim coach Brian Bliss. “He deserves to be in there. He’s being rewarded, and his team is being rewarded.
“He’s the hot guy right now.”