United finds pos­i­tives de­spite a loss to Seat­tle

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY STEVEN GOFF

Luis Silva was gone in the fifth minute with a groin in­jury, and front-line part­ner Fabian Espin­dola ex­ited in the 27th with a red card.

Given the se­ries of un­for­tu­nate events Fri­day night, D.C. United would have been over­joyed with a draw in one of MLS’s most in­hos­pitable en­vi­ron­ments. Mo­ments from es­cap­ing with a point, how­ever, Seat­tle de­fender Ty­rone Mears scored on an 88th-minute screamer to lift the Sounders to a 1-0 vic­tory be­fore 40,410 at Cen­tury Link Field.

“I am as proud as I have been in a while of this crew,” United Coach Ben Olsen said. “The ef­fort they put, the way they looked out for each other out there. In the end, it takes a won­der strike from them to get all three points.”

The Eastern Con­fer­ence lead­ers (10-6-5) lost for the first time in four league matches, while the Sounders (10-7-2) snapped a three-game los­ing streak.

United, which hasn’t beaten Seat­tle since 2011, con­cluded a stretch of four away matches in 10 days in mul­ti­ple com­pe­ti­tions with a gut­ting set­back.

“We de­served some­thing out of this,” said Olsen, whose squad has scored once in the past three league games.

Silva missed all of pre­sea­son and seven league matches over two pe­ri­ods with a va­ri­ety of leg in­juries. Af­ter Fri­day’s in­jury, he seems likely to miss a few weeks.

Espin­dola raised his fore­arm to Zach Scott’s throat in pur­suit of the ball and was sent off by ref­eree Sil­viu Pe­trescu.

The Sounders were with­out their start­ing for­wards as well but from the very start: Clint Dempsey was with the U.S. na­tional team for a friendly against Gu­atemala in Nashville, and Obafemi Martins is in­jured. Goal­keeper Ste­fan Frei left the match late in the first half with a shoul­der in­jury and was re­placed by Troy Perkins, a two-time D.C. keeper.

At the other end, An­drew Dykstra started in place of Bill Hamid (fin­ger in­jury).

Just as it ap­peared United would es­cape, English­man Mears one-timed a bounc­ing ball from an an­gled spot 16 yards from the tar­get.

The ris­ing shot streaked be­tween two de­fend­ers and past Dykstra to the far up­per cor­ner for his first goal of the sea­son.

“There was noth­ing [Dykstra] could do about the goal,” Olsen said. “It’s a great strike. It was go­ing to take some­thing like that to beat us tonight the way [United] was de­fend­ing.”

De­spite play­ing short­handed, United came close to break­ing the dead­lock twice in the sec­ond half, yet shots by Tay­lor Kemp and Nick DeLeon hit the cross­bar. Kemp’s came on a free kick, and DeLeon’s bid was from 12 yards just one minute af­ter Mears’s goal.

Said Sounders Coach Sigi Sch­mid: “Some­times to get out of a slump, you just have to have a few things break for you. ... Think [Mears] said he did it for the Queen.”

United is off un­til July 18 at FC Dal­las.

Note: In the Na­tional Women’s Soc­cer League, FC Kansas City de­feated the vis­it­ing Washington Spirit, 3-0, be­fore 2,079 spec­ta­tors at Swope Soc­cer Vil­lage. For­mer Washington midfielder Yael Aver­buch curled in a free kick in the 27th minute and Shea Groom and Liz Bo­gus scored 12 min­utes apart early in the sec­ond half for the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons (4-5-2). The Spirit (5-4-2) will host the Seat­tle Reign on Satur­day night at Mary­land Soc­cerPlex.

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