United finds positives despite a loss to Seattle
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.