Facing the worst team in the league, one that had not won on the road and had scored just one goal in the process, who was playing their fourth match in less than two weeks, this was a game the Seattle Sounders absolutely had to win. They did, but it wasn't pretty.
The Sounders got a goal relatively early, with Obafemi Martins making a pretty difficult finish look remarkably easy in the 19th minute, but spent most of the rest of the game wasting promising chances with poor passing in the final third. Martins and Eddie Johnson repeatedly had good runs go wanting, as the midfield repeatedly failed to get them the ball for one reason or another.
After dominating the first 25 minutes or so, the final 65 was much more even, if not downright tilted in DC's favor.
By the time the match rolled into its final 20 minutes, it was starting to feel as though United was going to grab a cheap equalizer on a missed mark or some kind of random breakdown. I'm not sure a single person in the stadium would have been shocked if Chris Pontius suddenly scored on a 25-yard wonder strike or something along those lines.
Of course, that didn't happen and the Sounders eventually won 2-0 after Martins scored his second goal on a play that was about absolutely nothing but hustle and determination. This is the kind of match, you probably don't spend a lot of time thinking about and instead focus on the next one.
Having not played a match in 10 days, maybe some of the rust was understandable. You can tell that this team is still learning to play together, which is pretty frustrating as we are almost halfway through the season. At the same time, the Sounders did what they needed to do. The three points are secured, the Sounders are tied for the final playoff spot with two games in hand and winning all their games in hand (an admitted long shot) would place them in the Western Conference lead.
Sounders FC vs. D.C. United - Final Stats
SEA - Obafemi Martins (Brad Evans) 19'
SEA - Obafemi Martins 90+1'
Seattle Sounders FC - Michael Gspurning, Zach Scott, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Djimi Traore, Leo Gonzalez, Mauro Rosales (Lamar Neagle 78), Servando Carrasco, Andy Rose (Shalrie Joseph 76), Brad Evans, Eddie Johnson, Obafemi Martins.
TOTAL SHOTS: 8 (Martins 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (Martins 2); FOULS: 15 (Carrasco 4); OFFSIDE: 4 (Johnson 3); CORNER KICKS: 3 (Rosales 3); SAVES: 4 (Gspurning 4).
D.C. United - Joe Willis, Chris Korb, Ethan White, Daniel Woolard, James Riley, Sainey Nyassi (Casey Townsend 76), Perry Kitchen, Alain Rochat, Kyle Porter, Chris Pontius, Lionard Pajoy.
Substitutes Not Used: Andrew Dykstra, Conor Shanosky, Taylor Kemp, John Thorrington, Marcelo Saragosa, Carlos Ruiz.
TOTAL SHOTS: 9 (Nyassi 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (Pontius 2); FOULS: 5 (5 players, 1); OFFSIDE: 7 (Pajoy 5); CORNER KICKS: 3 (Rochat 2); SAVES: 2 (Willis 2).
VAN - Alain Rochat (caution) 47'
SEA - Zach Scott (caution) 67'
SEA - Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (caution) 73'
Referee: Allen Chapman
Referee's Assistants: Jeff Hosking, Mike Rottersman
4th Official: Alejandro Mariscal
Time of Game: 1:49
Weather: Sunny and 81-degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial
Sounders FC vs. D.C. United - Postgame Quotes
Sigi Schmid - Sounders FC Head Coach
(On the game...) "First off, obviously we noticed that at the start of the game a lot of our fans hadn't been able to get to their seats. We as a team always feel bad about that because we want our fans to be able to see every minute of every game. We understand there was a little bit of a hiccup and hopefully that will all be resolved as we move forward in the future. We never want our fans to miss any parts of our games. As a team we want to make sure that they know we missed them at the beginning of the game. In regards to the game, I think tonight was one of those games that you have to grind out. I don't think it was necessarily our best soccer, per se. There were a couple of opportunistic goals-a good ball from Brad Evans to Obafemi [Martins] for the first goal and Obafemi with a lot of heart and determination on the second goal. Not having played in a while, having played irregularly over the last month-practice is not the same as games-it takes you a while to get your rhythm. I thought we were a little dis-jointed, and it's one of those games you just have to roll up your sleeves and grind out. You have to take a victory on certain days and say, 'It's not going to be beautiful, it's not going to be necessarily artistic, so we just roll up the sleeves and still get it done. You have to find different ways to win games throughout the season, and today I thought we accomplished that, so I was happy with that."
(On the play of Eddie Johnson and Obafemi Martins up front...) "In the first half, one of the things we talked about was I thought Eddie [Johnson] was dropping too deep and was too deep in midfield. At halftime we asked him to move his game forward 20 yards and be in closer connection to each other. There were some combinations where they got very close at times. When Lamar [Neagle] came in there was the one ball he should have connected with Oba inside. That would have been a good combination between the three of them. It's there, it's just going to take a few more games to get it done."
(On getting the forwards the ball...) "The challenge is they're players who are very explosive who like to run forward, so it's important that our midfielders look forward a little quicker...The other thing we talked about at halftime was our midfielders looking forward quicker. Andy Rose playing a little bit higher, so he can get balls off of them, and we asked the same thing from Shalrie [Joseph], and I thought Shalrie came in and did a good job for us tonight in the last 15-20 minutes...We need to look forward, we need to see that ball into their feet when they're one-v-one, when they're isolated making that quick, explosive run to get behind. It's just a matter of getting that timing down."
(On the first goal...) "It was a good ball from Brad. He popped on to the ball as it popped free and did a good job of leading Oba with the ball, and then Oba did a good job finishing. Those are opportunities...There's combination play between the two of them that you can get behind, as well. It's a matter of just continuing to work."
(On the lineup decisions...) "We made those decisions. We thought that Lamar really, at most, had 50-60 minutes in him, so we decided we'd rather bring him off the bench for this game because he's still-was he 100% after that injury? With DeAndre [Yedlin], we felt it was better to try and save him forSaturday. His shoulder was a little bit sore. If it was getting better each day, he could have probably played, but at some point he would have been a sub, as well. So we decided not to go with him."
(On the rehab of a few injured players...) "Alonso had an easy day training [today], and tomorrow we will see where he is at. We will see how Lamar came through with his 30 minutes today and DeAndre rehabbed today, so we will see how he feels tomorrow."
(On becoming the first head coach with 400 career games in MLS...) "I have been doing this for a while. Somebody said the other day you've been out of college soccer now for 15 years and I said, 'yeah that's true.' So it has been a while. Believe me, because I got into the league three years after everybody else so I never thought I would get to 400 games ahead of everybody else. But it's certainly a reflection on some good teams and good players and they've performed well. We've been able to figure out how to get the result more times than not, and that's an important part of it to get to 400. I feel very honored to get to 400 and to be the first one to get there. I would like it to be many, many more and I would like a few more titles along the way."
(On playing another match on Saturday...) "Well obviously it's a tight turnaround but we are looking forward to it because we are looking forward to getting into the rhythm of playing games. Things are fair, Vancouver played tonight as well. They have got to travel a little bit further than we do, so from that standpoint it's a good situation as well. For us they are a little bit healthier than we are, except for maybe their centerback position. For us we are looking forward to the game, the guys are looking forward to not hear my voice more in practice...They would much rather play games than listen to me."
(On injuries from tonight...) "We'll see how we come out from this game with aches and pains. [Brad Evans] fell on his shoulder in the first half, so we'll see how he is with that, but he is usually pretty resilient."
(On playing more games with fewer byes...) We are looking forward to be able get in a rhythm. We've had enough bye weeks, they clumped them all early in the season. For us to play now is good and it will be the first season in a long time that we won't have Champions League and those games to add to the congestion, so we will see how we respond to that as well."
Obafemi Martins - Sounders FC Forward
(On whether today was his best game...) "No. Every game is important for me. Every game I've been playing here is very important. Today's game is good because we won. We didn't play our best, but the important thing is to get the three points."
(On how he feels he and Eddie Johnson are playing together...) "For me, we've been playing well. That's my own opinion, because the fans generally expect more from us. It takes a lot of time because we never played against each other. We're doing well in the training and in the game, we get in there. We have a lot of games to play. I hope we do well."
(On the first goal he scored off Brad Evans' assist...) "It was a good assist. He took his time to pass the ball and I have to position myself very well and I have to touch the ball. I have to play the ball inside the goalkeeper."
(On his second goal, and whether it was a harder goal to score...) "I just want to continue to play. The defender made a mistake, and I thought about trying and it went in."
Michael Gspurning - Sounders FC Goalkeeper
(On playing in front of the home fans for the first time in nearly a month...) "It was great of course, like always. Especially today the weather was nice and it was a great atmosphere, so it was good and we knew we had to win and not disappoint our fans. We didn't have the best game, but we won and [earned] three points."
(On posting another a shutout...) "Shutouts are always good, but there is not a lot of time to celebrate the shutout. Three points are more important and there is another game coming up very shortly. "
(On team's position to perform well in busy upcoming stretch...) "This month is critical for us. We have a lot of games at hand and we have to make the points. This month we have a lot of games and a lot of games at home, where we always want to win. At the end of the month we want to be in a better position than we are now."
Brad Evans - Sounders FC Midfielder
(On the potential danger the offense can create...) "The potential is frightening. We still have to get those games under our belt and the best way that happens is multiple games in a short period of time. It's tough coming off a 10-day break...I think the most important thing is coming out and getting the three points off a long break."
(On the first half assist to Martins...) "I was able to turn and find myself some space. The defense immediately dropped and when you have two dangerous forwards like that they are going to automatically retreat to defend the space behind. [It was] a great run by [Obafemi Martins] and I had him in my sights the whole time. I was lucky to squeeze through a small little gap and the finish from there was top class."
(On returning to play in front of the fans...) "First game back in front of the home fans was phenomenal. You always get a special feeling playing in front of these fans. It's definitely something you never forget and try not to take for granted, but it was a great night."
Ben Olsen - D.C. United Head Coach
(On the game ...) "I thought we gave them a bit too much respect early. The fire that we brought to the first 10-15 minutes - I thought they were just way more physical. But then we get that part right half way through the first half and we seem to build on that the rest of the game. It's tough to say, but I was pleased with most of the way we played -- the way we built up our attack. But again, the final stuff just isn't there. The quality just isn't there. It's a very frustrating thing because we're getting the right numbers there, we're getting in the right situations to get good service ... the numbers are there. It's just not clicking."
(On if help is on the way ...) "There's some help at home as well, which I think would've helped us a little bit tonight. We're looking. We are looking for help. But again, I still feel solid about this team. I'm not blowing smoke. I still like a lot of what I saw tonight. That's one of the frustrating parts about this - I like so much about parts of our group. We're just not getting the final stuff right. I mean, we turn off on one play and it costs us. It was an unchallenged header and it goes to an unchallenged guy who threads a through ball to their striker, who has a free path to goal. That's not good. That's one play. It's probably one of the only plays we turned off all game and we got punished. They're a good enough team that they can hold a lead so that part is frustrating. We've got to score some goals."
Ethan White - D.C United Defender
(General thoughts...) "I don't think we worked hard enough and I think we may have given them too much respect at the beginning. Once we stepped up and actually made some tackles and we woke up and realized that we were men too then the game changed. I think we underestimated the speed of their forwards and they got behind us. As the game went on I think we got more and more comfortable. The second goal was just a case of our guys pushing forward and one of their players getting behind us, but it is still a loss"
(On it getting harder as the season goes on...) "It is frustrating, but we are not playing ourselves out of the game. We are losing 1-0 so if we can get one goal or not give up a goal then we are still in it, but we are missing a little something. I feel like we are getting better, but there is still something we have to get."
Chris Pontius - D.C. United Forward
(On what was missing from tonight's game...) "It is still the final ball. It is all about once we cross it or take a player one on one our decision making in the final third. We do well to get in positions like that, but we have to be a lot better. That is the difference between this year and last year. Last year we were getting players in the box and making real runs. We were fit boys who were hard to handle and we just haven't been that this year."
(On if you were happy with parts of the game tonight...) "You obviously have to respect [Obafemi] Martins and [Eddie] Johnson's speed and [Lamar] Neagle when he comes in. I thought we did a decent job dropping when we needed too, but the two plays that we messed up on ended up being two goals. Other than those two plays [Sounders] don't have very much going for them. It's a loss though. No goals for us. It has to get better. It's not a fun situation. I can't stand losing. I hate it."
James Riley - D.C. United Defender
(On coming back to Seattle...) "Obviously it was great to come back, but for us to not get the result was disheartening. I know we put a lot into this game and I thought we could sneak one by them, but they are a quality side and they punished us for our mistakes. Words can't describe coming back. Going to the south end and getting that type of reception is a testament to the city of Seattle, all of the supporter groups, and the fans. To know that my legacy is much bigger than my performance as a soccer player is the most warming thing. To know that my service to the community, my play on the field, and just the total character of what it is to be a Sounder is something that means a lot to me. I am trying to do that in D.C as well. It took me three years to do that in Seattle and to still get that reception is amazing. I can't put any words on it."