Photos by Matt Warso & Bob Bunn, captions by Steven Agen
The high-flying Seattle Sounders welcomed Minnesota United to CenturyLink Field for the first time on Sunday night, recording a third win in a row and ninth without a defeat.
The Loons nearly took the lead inside of two minutes when a corner kick bounced around the Seattle area. The ball fell for Francisco Calvo but his shot was blocked away from close range. The visitors created two more opportunities within the first five minutes before Seattle began to grow into the match, perhaps fortunate to escape punishment for their sluggish start.
21′: Goal! Seattle Sounders 0, Minnesota United 1
Ibson capitalized quickly on a loose ball in the Seattle defensive third, picking out Ethan Finlay’s run between Chad Marshall and Joevin Jones. Finlay took a touch and then lashed into the low left corner of the net. The midfielder had his first goal for his new club and Sounders were finally punished for their lethargic opening twenty minutes. The goal ended a Seattle club-record streak for minutes without conceding at 421.
Abu Danladi just missed a great opportunity to double Minnesota United’s advantage only two minutes after the opener. Danladi did the hard work in getting to a one on one situation with Stefan Frei but dragged his shot just wide of the right-hand post.
31′: Goal! Seattle Sounders 1, Minnesota United 1
Seattle possessed the ball for 64.5% of the first half, due at least in part to the visitors sitting deeper in their own half following Finlay’s goal. However, for the most part Minnesota United defended resolutely and were good value for their lead in the first period. The exception came on 31 minutes, when the Loons failed to mark Chad Marshall at the near post when Nicolas Lodeiro served a free kick in from near the right endline. That’s a cardinal sin in the Western Conference, and Marshall buried the header from six yards out.
Kelvin Leerdam’s half volley sailed a yard over the bar as Sounders fashioned another good chance before Ismail Elfath blew the whistle for halftime. United definitely deserved their foothold, a complete turnaround from their 4-0 thrashing against the same Seattle side two weeks ago.
The second half start much like the first. Danladi was the beneficiary of a rare Gustav Svensson mistake, picking off the Swede’s back pass five minutes into the second half. Frei came out to meet him and held the forward up, but Danladi should have hit the target when he touched around Frei and had a mostly empty net to aim for from no more than ten yards’ distance. He hit side netting and the score stayed 1-1.
Will Bruin subbed on for Svensson on 64′ as Sounders grabbed control of the match and searched for a winner. Jermaine Taylor joined the fray for the Loons twelve minutes later, taking Kevin Molino’s place as Adrian Heath tried to secure a point.
Sounders huffed and puffed for the majority of the second half, and as time wore on it seemed they wouldn’t ever blow the house down. Cross after cross went unfinished — United dropped deeper yet and stayed organized, and Sounders had little luck breaking them down.
Eventually it seemed that Seattle had run out of ideas. Dropping two points against the struggling expansion side was a tough pill to swallow,. A hint of desperation could be sensed in the Seattle attack by the time Roman Torres got forward to put a cross in inside the last ten minutes. The center back attempted an acrobatic bicycle kick as well, missing just wide. Joevin Jones’ expression above summed up much of the hosts’ night.
Everything changed in the third minute of stoppage time. Lodeiro headed Jones’ corner on at the near post, and a poor clearance found Clint Dempsey in the center of the area. He struck the ball towards goal, but it clattered into the outstretched arm of Jermaine Taylor. All the Loons’ hard work was undone 30 seconds from a 1-1 draw with the defending champions, but Elfath pointed to the spot and cautioned Taylor.
90+4′: Goal! Seattle Sounders 2, Minnesota United 1
Dempsey took the spot kick himself. Bobby Shuttleworth guessed correctly and got a piece of the ball diving to his left, but couldn’t push it wide of goal. The ball hit the back of the net, and Elfath blew his whistle as soon as the match kicked off again. Sounders had taken the points with the very last kick of the game.
The result was harsh on Minnesota United, who leave Seattle without conceding a goal from the run of play. Outside of seeing Danladi put one of his chances away, the Loons played to their potential on Sunday. The same cannot be said of Seattle, contributing to the disappointment. A difficult trip to Chicago on August 26th marks United’s first chance to build on Sunday’s performance.
Sounders, for their part, moved back into a tie for first place in the Western Conference on 40 points. Next up is an away match at Vancouver on Wednesday before Portland visits on Sunday in a double derby week.
Matt and Steven both featured in Resurgence: How Sounders FC Roared Back to Win MLS Cup, the story of Sounders’ historic title achievement in 2016. The book also includes contributions from former Seattle mayor Greg Nickels, Art Thiel, Rapids play by play announcer Richard Fleming, Ari Liljenwall, Andrew Harvey, Matt Pentz, and Mr. Sounder himself, Zach Scott. Preorder here and join us this Friday, August 25th at The Triple Door for a special release event with Matt Johnson and Sounders GM Garth Lagerwey.