Johnson punishes man-up but misfiring Columbus
By Michael Ligot, Seattle Editor
COLUMBUS, OHIO — They sat out a 90-minute thunderstorm delay, played nearly that much without their left defender, and were badly outshot. But a familiar set piece connection earned the Seattle Sounders FC a rare road win.
For the second straight week, Eddie Johnson headed home a Mauro Rosales direct kick and the Sounders won a 1-0 decision, this time over the host Columbus Crew. The victory came with a higher degree of difficulty of last week’s home win over Portland, as Seattle’s Leonardo González was sent off just seven minutes in.
About a quarter-hour into the match, Columbus’ Agustin Viana took down DeAndre Yedlin 40 yards from the Crew’s net after a spell of good Seattle possession. While Rosales lifted the free kick, Johnson jumped in front of Joshua Williams, and with a flick of the head put his sixth goal of the season into the net.
That goal was pretty much Seattle’s only strong attack of the game, and although the Crew eventually threw 24 shots close to Michael Gspurning’s net, they couldn’t equalize. Columbus’ talisman Federico Higuain (nine goals, six assists) sat out through suspension, and for all of their possession, nobody else on the Crew could hit dangerous passes or get shots on goal (just three, one more than Seattle).
Though the Sounders didn’t have the Crew’s handicap of starting without their top player, they did lose two of their starters within the first 20 minutes.
With Ryan Finley sent breaking toward goal off a Seattle turnover, Leonardo González reached his left arm out and tugged him down. Referee Ismael Elfath immediately produced the red card, forcing González off the field with his second career ejection, and the Sounders with 83 minutes of shorthanded play. Lamar Neagle, normally an attacker, fell back — way back — into the Costa Rican’s left defense position.
Although Johnson’s goal helped the Sounders’ mindset, it soured six minutes later, when Brad Evans fell injured after a Will Trapp foul. Servando Carrasco needed to come in for Evans, who seemed to aggravate a calf problem.
The Sounders rode off the rest of the half, and in the second stanza settled into a conservative, counterattacking stance. Columbus, however, betrayed their dominating possession (as much as 90 percent after the hour mark) with horrifically inaccurate playmaking and shooting. Sounder players broke up several attacks (18 tackles, according to ESPNFC.com) and shots (11 blocks). The Crew Stadium crowd of 20,382, already subdued from the long weather delay, suffered in silent frustration.
The Crew did have a couple of close calls late, when Chad Marshall headed a direct kick off the crossbar and Dominic Oduro chipped over Gspurning but somehow sent it wide. Seattle held on for just its fifth road victory in 13 matches.
That brings the Sounders to 40 points (12-4-8 W-D-L) and a tie for second in the Western Conference, depending on the Los Angeles-San Jose game finishing after press time. Columbus, which still hasn’t posted a home win over Seattle, stays eighth in the East on 29 points (8-5-13).
Both teams face quick and crowded turnarounds, the Sounders hosting hapless Chivas USA Wednesday and Chicago Saturday, while Columbus welcomes fellow surprising struggler Houston Wednesday before entering Kansas City’s cauldron Saturday.
1) Seattle, Johnson (Rosales) 14′
STATISTICS (from MLSSoccer.com)
Shots: Columbus 24, Seattle 7
Shots on Goal: Columbus 3, Seattle 2
Saves: Columbus 1, Seattle 3
Corner Kicks: Columbus 9, Seattle 3
Offsides: Columbus 2, Seattle 3
Fouls: Columbus 12, Seattle 11
Cautions Columbus 2 (O’Rourke 21′, Viana 36′), Seattle 1 (Traoré 76′)
Ejections: Columbus 0, Seattle 1 (González 7′)
Passes (Pct. completed): Columbus 409 (83.1%), Seattle 301 (74.4%)
Duels Won (Pct.): Columbus 45 (51.7%), Seattle 42 (48.3%)
Possession: Columbus 57.6%, Seattle 42.4%
Columbus: Lampson; Viana (Warzycha 61′), O’Rourke, Marshall, Williams; Trapp, Meram (Finlay 73′), Arrieta, Anor; Oduro, Finley.
Seattle: Gspurning; González, Hurtado, Scott, Yedlin; Neagle, Alonso, Evans (Carrasco 19′), Rosales (Burch 74′); Dempsey, Johnson (Traoré 61′).
Officials: refereee Elfath, referee’s assistants Strickland and Dunn, fourth official Grajeda.
With his caution, Danny O’Rourke will miss Columbus’ next game.
In Higuain’s absence, midfielder Trapp took most of the Crew’s corners.
Updates on Evans’ injury was unavailable at press time. His status for the upcoming U.S. national team’s World Cup qualifiers is uncertain.
Even with Clint Dempsey curiosity factoring in, the strong Crew Stadium crowd was even more remarkable considering that Ohio State’s football team played that afternoon before more than 103,000.