It can be all too easy to write off a team with a poor record. Getting up for DC United can feel like getting up for Friends reruns; the jokes are easy and you've seen how it ends a couple dozen times. And yet sports are not like scripted television. That 12th carbon copy of Joey is not going to play the same way as the first one did. And sometimes, the 12th Soup Nazi lets up just a little bit.
It was such that DC United came out and made the Sounders work for every inch of field position, challenging every pass and putting bodies in front of shots along the way. Even without their stars, United came out and played like nothing mattered more than winning this one game. Great teams have wilted to lesser clubs in the face of such adversity. Champions have retreated when expectations were proven false.
The Sounders did not wilt. The Sounders did not retreat.
Two goals from Obafemi Martins got the Johnson-ObaMa pairing of the schneid to EARN a 2-0 win in the Washington rivalry.
In as cleanly hard-fought a match as this writer can recall, Seattle's club matched intensity and went for the jugular. Physicality met with physicality, speed with speed. And in the end, the team with the slightly better finish and fight came out victorious. This was not a game of talent, but instead a game of will. If the Sounders' drive was questioned after their loss to Salt Lake, let no questions be asked about this match.
Even when security snafus prevented half the stadium from seeing the early minutes, even when key players like Osvaldo Alonso, DeAndre Yedlin, Lamar Neagle, and Shalrie Joseph all sat on the bench, the Sounders were at home, and they were going to win.
All that needs to be said about this club's character can be seen in Martin's stoppage time goal. Some players succeed with effort; others with talent. That goal was like watching Roger Levesque in Fredy Montero's body, and it couldn't have been a sweeter sight.
Martins was the player of the match, but big ups to Mauro Rosales and Djimi Traore. Both dominated at their positions, and Rosales was somewhat unlucky not to come out of the game with a couple of goals/assists (DC keeper Joe Willis had a nice night of his own). Also credit to Michael Gspurning, who had a couple of saves that will immediately be added to his Sounders highlight reel (MAKE IT SO).
Drive cannot be taught. It is born with the beast. These Sounders have drive. They will need to show it this weekend in Vancouver (who drew in Kansas City tonight) and in the rest of their fixtures, if hardware is still in this team's future. Yet again, we can look at the squad and see how dominant a side it can be with all the software installed.