Exhausted, short-handed, victorious. Seattle Sounders FC needed a single Chad Barrett goal to get by D.C. United in a contest of first place teams. Seattle moves to 35 points in 16 games. In the last 11 MLS matches they are 9-1-1. The hydra is alive and well.
It was another lesson in gamestate and situational management. After 120 minutes midweek and without two potential league MVPs the early goal allowed Sounders FC to sit back and absorb pressure, and absorb it they did. They were out-shot, out-possessed and fortunate to leave with three points.
The win comes at a cost as both Osvaldo Alonso and Gonzalo Pineda earned their fifth yellow cards of the season. Neither player is eligible against Vancouver. Andy Rose is still recovering from an injury so the central midfield will be depleted.
Saturday's victory also saw the first MLS appearance ever by Aaron Kovar and the first MLS appearance of 2014 for David Estrada. In fact, all three subs were defensive in nature and helped with the anti-fragile attitude of the club.
The late push by United was intense. The flurry of shots were forced into poor angles, blocked, and saved. Stefan Frei earned another clean sheet on the power of his face. It is his 5th shutout of the season and third in his last five matches. Previously thought of as just an attacking team Seattle's defense is now something that can earn points when the offense fades.
There are several other matches on the evening, but it is possible that when you wake up Sounders FC will be 10 clear of several other sides.