SEATTLE – Depending on how recent you want to take recent history, a second half go-ahead goal by their Saturday night opponent could have left the Sounders either downcast or slightly optimistic.
After all, this was D.C. United playing the visiting foil, a team the Sounders had beaten here last July with four historic second-half scores to overcome a three-goal deficit. Given that recent history, the one-goal deficit this time around proved small potatoes, a 2-1 comeback victory sealed when Sounders midfielder Magnus Wolff Eikrem headed home a Cristian Roldan cross in the 83rd minute to give his team a desperately needed three points in the standings.
Still, all kidding aside about D.C.’s inability to hold a second-half lead at CenturyLink Field, the Sounders’ recent inability to put anything in the net had to have them doubting their chances a bit. They’d looked stronger in welcoming back Nicolas Lodeiro – and just in time – for his first game in over a month, but had once again failed to convert on a plethora of chances.
Lodeiro erased those doubts in a hurry, tying the game minutes after the opening goal. And the Sounders poured it on from there.
An announced crowd of 39,465 – which actually appeared several thousand attendees below that total – had braved a rainy night to witness the CenturyLink Field battle of last-place teams. They’d clasped their heads in disbelief when, after a first-half controlled by the Sounders, Darren Mattocks provided the opening strike for D.C. in the 53rd minute by slotting home a loose ball on a wild goalmouth scramble.
But Lodeiro equalized fewer than four minutes later when a long throw-in by Kelvin Leerdam deflected off a defender and rolled straight to the top of the box. That’s where Lodeiro had been waiting and was able to get a running start on his kick, which he drilled past goalkeeper David Oustad to his right.
It was the first goal by the Sounders in 273 minutes of play, dating back to a Handwalla Bwana strike at Toronto. The Lodeiro goal was also the first at home by the Sounders in 237 minutes going back to a Jordy Delem stoppage time score against Minnesota United FC back on April 22.
The dearth of scoring, or any attacking threat at all by the home side in recent games likely had something to do with Saturday’s smaller-than-usual turnout. There were long lineups in the concourse by people buying rain ponchos early on, but even after the crowd filled in a bit toward halftime there were swaths of empty seats visible throughout the stadium’s lower sections.
It had been hoped Lodeiro’s return from Uruguay, where he’d failed to make his native country’s World Cup roster, could help jump-start a team that had been shut out eight times in 11 games. Lodeiro had insisted in a conference call with team officials earlier in the week that he’d be returning Thursday and planned to play in both of the team’s remaining games before the World Cup break takes effect.
And Lodeiro didn’t disappoint, with the Sounders looking dangerous throughout the first half. Clint Dempsey had more scoring chances the first 22 minutes than he had the past month.
Dempsey had a strong chance in the 16th minute on a nice run down the left side by Nouhou, who put a cross inside the box right at the forward’s feet. But Dempsey seemed a tad surprised the ball found its way to him past a group of players and had the ball go off his right foot and deflect out of harm’s way.
Then, in the 22nd minute, the ball bounded to Dempsey inside the box again. Dempsey was facing away from the goal at the time and attempted a backward kick that went straight at keeper Oustad.