Seattle Sounders FC 2:0 D.C. United
By Kara McDermott
It took awhile to get all the fans into the stands at Century Link with the new metal detector security measures, and it took the Seattle Sounders just as long to get going as they played D.C. United to a 2-0 victory.
The first half was largely unspectacular, with the exception of Eddie Johnson’s new shock of blond hair. Field position continued to be troublesome for the Sounders. Brad Evans and Mauro Rosales, both naturally center players, occupied the left and right midfield, respectively. Andy Rose and Servando Carrasco took the center midfield and neither of them, nor the pair of them, had the strength to run the center of the field. The ensuing leadership vacuum seemed to suck Evans and Rosales into the center, leaving precious strategic space underutilized on the outside of the field.
Rose and Carrasco stayed close in the midfield, but rarely played off each other. The two were flush with each other most of the game, which left space in front of the duo and put them a step behind in challenging United on transitions.
However, there were bright moments when the gears clicked together, particularly in a quick passing sequence that lead to the Sounders’ goal in the first half.
Rose started by heading the ball outside to Johnson, who then played it back into the center to Evans’ foot.
The midfielder directed his gaze down-field and played a textbook through-ball straight up the gut of the field. Obafemi Martins, floating in from the left ran on to the ball, cut off defender James Riley and caught the ball near the top of the box. He held off Ethan White to slot the ball left-footed into the near post past goalkeeper Joe Willis in the 19th minute.
For most of the game it was Rosales that was the main playmaker for the Sounders. He adeptly exploited D.C. United’s weak left side and with long runs and was able to feed the box with crosses. Defender Zach Scott also came forward with the attack, though he was tied down more in the second half with matters closer to home.
One side of the field was largely barren for both teams: the Sounders’ left defender Leo Gonzalez paired with Evans; and United’s right defender Chris Korb paired with Sainey Nyassi. Neither side launched many attacks from these positions. The balance of the field improved in the second half as Evans held his line better, and the offense certainly benefited with the addition of service from both sides of the field, though they didn’t capitalize on their chances.
In the 73rd minute, Evans ran the ball deep down the left side and passed across to Martins, who took a touch towards the line and saved it before it went out by knifing it back across the mouth of the goal. It looked to be a dead-end play, but Korb bobbled the clear and deflected it right to Rosales in the middle of
the penalty area. Unmarked and with a clear line to the goal, Rosales whiffed the left footed shot to set off a chorus of disappointed groans from the fans.
Poorly timed dummy plays and missed headers awaited most of the crosses. But as the game – described by Schmid as “not beautiful, not artistic” – wound down, Martins again added some polish to the lackluster play by tallying one more goal for the home side. About a minute into stoppage time, Shalrie Joseph, who replaced Rose late in the second half, headed the ball forward towards the penalty area.
Martins ran on to it, muscling past three defenders as the ball bounced off of various feet, and finished a point-blank shot past Willis’ fingertips inside the right post.
The last goal was a punctuation mark on D.C. United’s woes this season. The East Coast team has played as many games as anyone, save Real Salt Lake which has played one more, but has only won two and scored eight over 18 games.
The Sounders have some games to catch up on to equal the rest of the field. They next play at Vancouver on Saturday.
SEA: Michael Gspurning, Zach Scott, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Djimi Traore, Leo Gonzalez, Mauro Rosales (Lamar Neagle 78’), Servando Carrasco, Andy Rose (Shalrie Joseph 75’), Brad Evans, Obafemi Martins, Eddie Johnson
Subs not used: Marcus Hahnemann, Marc Burch, David Estrada, Patrick Ianni, Sammy Ochoa
Head coach: Sigi Schmid
DCU: Joe Willis, James Riley, Ethan White, Daniel Woolard, Chris Korb, Alain Rochat, Petty Kitchen, Kyle Porter, Sainey Nyassi (Casey Townsend 76’), Lionard Pajoy, Chris Pontius
Subs not used: Andrew Dykstra, Taylor Kemp, Carlos Ruiz, Marchelo Saragosa, Conor Shanosky, John Thorrington
Head coach: Ben Olsen