In a long season like MLS, teams need to find lots of ways to win. No one is going to get through a whole season playing pretty soccer every week, international call-ups, injuries, crowded schedules and the ridiculous travel all make this virtually impossible.
This was one of those weeks where the Seattle Sounders were just going to have to suck it up and play ugly. Turns out, they can do that when needed.
There was nothing pretty about the Sounders' 1-0 win over D.C. United on Saturday except, of course, the scoreline. The Sounders were out-possessed about 65-35, out shot 14-5 and barely even pretended to put up much of an attack in the second half when they had just one shot. But it doesn't matter. Chad Barrett's fourth goal of the season and third in four games was all they needed to beat the Eastern Conference's top team and extend their lead in the Supporters' Shield race to 10 points.
Just as importantly, it was proof the Sounders can win this kind of game. The Sounders had yet to win a game on the road in which they scored fewer than two goals and there were starting to be whispers that maybe they couldn't win if they needed their defense to really carry the day.
That still remains to be seen, but the Sounders are also proving a bit more complete than they seemed a couple months ago.
SEA - Chad Barrett (Gonzalo Pineda) 39'
Seattle Sounders FC - Stefan Frei; Brad Evans, Chad Marshall, Jalil Anibaba, Leo Gonzalez; Lamar Neagle (David Estrada 85'), Osvaldo Alonso, Gonzalo Pineda, Marco Pappa (Aaron Kovar 72'); Kenny Cooper, Chad Barrett (Micheal Azira 58')
Substitutes Not Used: Marcus Hahnemann, Zach Scott, Tristan Bowen, Cam Weaver.
TOTAL SHOTS: 5 (Barrett, 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (Barrett, 2); FOULS: 12 (2 players, 3); OFFSIDE: 1 (Neagle, 1); CORNER KICKS: 9 (Pineda, 7); SAVES: 2 (Frei, 2).
D.C. United - Bill Hamid; Sean Franklin (Taylor Kemp 87'), Bobby Boswell, Steve Birnbaum, Chris Korb; Nick DeLeon, Perry Kitchen, Lewis Neal (Jared Jeffrey 45'), Chris Rolfe; Eddie Johnson, Luis Silva (Collin Martin 76').
Substitutes Not Used: Andrew Dykstra, Nana Attakora, Alex Caskey, Conor Doyle.
TOTAL SHOTS: 14 (Johnson, 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 2 (2 players, 1); FOULS: 12 (Johnson, 3); OFFSIDE: 0; CORNER KICKS: 5 (2 players, 2); SAVES: 2 (Hamid, 2).
SEA - Osvaldo Alonso (caution) 20'
SEA - Gonzalo Pineda (caution) 87'
Referee: Silviu Petrescu
Referee's Assistants: Greg Barkey, Matthew Nelson
4th Official: Daniel Fitzgerald
Weather: Party cloudy and 86-degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.
Seattle Sounders Head Coach Sigi Schmid
On the team's win
I thought we were solid. We played 120 minutes on Tuesday and I thought our performance was one of those where we bent a little bit but we didn't break. I thought our defense held together well. We got a great goal from Chad Barrett, a great header. We're pleased with the end result and I think our defending was solid.
On Jalil Anibaba's performance on defense
We needed some fresh legs and I think Zach Scott has played really well. I thought Jalil played really well tonight. His speed is a good matchup with Eddie [Johnson] so that was good for us as well. We needed some fresh legs in there and he provided that for us. [Osvaldo Alonso] helped us in midfield with his legs but they did a good job packing the midfielder and putting a lot of extra bodies in there. That's something that we didn't adjust as well, especially in the first half and in the second half. Towards the end we locked it down by going with an extra midfielder but I was obviously pleased with Jalil.
On playing well without Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins in the attack
That was our objective at the start of the season. What we really wanted to do was improve our depth up front. We knew there was going to be a period in time where we were going to miss Dempsey. By bringing in Kenny Cooper and bringing in Chad Barrett, we wanted to push Lamar Neagle back wide, which gave us the depth up front.
Seattle Sounders forward Chad Barrett
On his recent scoring success
I feel like I'm doing something productive for the team. That's pretty much all I was trying to do. I wasn't trying to replace Clint [Dempsey] I was just trying to fill a void. Sigi gave me the opportunity and I've had some great service and teammates have really helped out along the way. I'm happy to put the goals in for them.
On the physical play from both teams
I don't think the calls were going my way today. I had some disputes with the ref and once I started yelling at him I pretty much knew that I pretty much wasn't going to get any calls. [DC United] were defending like they should. If they're not going to get called for it they're going to keep doing it. Luckily enough I was able to get a little bit of space and create some room. It was a great ball from [Leo Gonzalez] and I could finish.
On winning the first game following the World Cup break
It's huge. This is what we were really looking forward to. D.C. were refreshed and they really showed it today, they played really well. They're a very good possession team, a lot different from last year. Obviously they missed the likes of Espindola, which really helped us out today, but they're still a good team. You really got to give it up to our defense. They did an unbelievable job to keep that zero on the board.
On being successful on the road
We just don't give up. We'll fight till the end. If you're going to play the Sounders, you're going to play us for 90 minutes. If you give up for a second we're going to make you pay for it. We're a good team with a lot of attacking power. I feel like our defense is really coming around. We put a lot of different lineups at the beginning [of the season]. Now, everybody is getting used to each other but the big thing is we fight for each other until the very end. We're a very close team. A lot of these guys are like our brothers on the team. Nobody's going to disrupt that. I know that when Clint and Obafemi Martins get back, they're the frontrunners, this is their team, but hopefully what I've done so far will get me more minutes afterwards.
Seattle Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei
On the result
We've done a good job getting wins on the road and we did that against a really good team, they're first place in the East. It was a big one for us. Hopefully now we can continue on this good form.
On Chad Barrett's performance
He's done such a good job. He's such a hard worker and a really good goal scorer and he's shown that over these last couple of games. He's taking his goals really well and obviously when we're missing guys like Clint and Obafemi, guys of that quality, it's a big hit butChad's done a great job replacing them on the field. He works so hard, and has shown his great quality for goals.
D.C. United Head Coach Ben Olsen
On the World Cup break affecting the team's performance
You can contribute [the poor result] to anything you want, but that was the reality tonight. Individually, I thought that was Eddie's best game. I thought it was a good night and it's a tough game sometimes when a final product isn't good enough on the night and they sneak a goal. They had two shots, and one off frame but sometimes that's all you need.
On playing without Fabian Espindola
Yes, I would like Fabi on the field, but I like our group. We can score goals without Fabi. We've had a lot of guys contribute in some form or fashion. Have we relied maybe too heavily on him? Yeah, absolutely, but we'll be okay. We'll score goals. I think tonight it was just the last moment that let us down.
On Steve Birnbaum's performance
I thought he was good. For a rookie, stepping in here and doing what he is doing in a crucial spot on the field is pretty impressive. He's everything we thought he was going to be, and he's filled in nicely for [Jeff] Parke.
On Luis and Eddie Johnson's chemistry up front
I thought everybody played fine. Some of the buildups were very good. They created a lot of opportunities. I think we were in their attacking third quite a number of times and the final ball wasn't there.
D.C. United Defender Bobby Boswell
On thoughts about the performance
I just thought we kind of knew it was going to be one of those, if we can score the early goal we can control the pace of the game. And, unfortunately, they scored the first goal. It was just one of those nights where it wouldn't go in. I thought we took the game to them for a good stretch of it, but anytime we play at home we play to win. And to lose, in my opinion, is a bit unacceptable and we kind of thought that.
On playing without Fabian Espindola
Yeah, I mean you can't replace a guy like that. You know, there is a reason he has done so well in the League, because that is how he drives. But, you can make the argument that they were missing guys too. It is not about who wasn't there, it was more about who was and we just couldn't get it done tonight. We had a big opportunity tonight. It's better to play at home than at Seattle, but we couldn't get the win.
D.C. United Midfielder Chris Rolfe
On working with Silva
I think Luis has done a great job stepping in there. Obviously, he is a bit different than Fabi, he isn't going to drift like Fabi does. It is going to take time to kind of get used to his movements, or his positioning.
On having several chances
You know, I thought we had a lot of good ideas tonight. Our final touch in and around the box just wasn't good. I don't know why that was the case, unless we were all just anxious from not having a game in a while. Again, we created a lot of chances, we just didn't finish them.
D.C. United Midfielder Nick DeLeon
On both teams performance
You need to get goals to win. But, there were a lot of positives in today's game so it's alright. We came out unlucky and couldn't get the goal. They had one chance, one goal, unlucky for us. We will get back after it against Toronto next weekend.