The clock kept ticking and ticking and ticking. The game headed toward the 70th minute, the score remained 0-0. The Seattle Sounders' scoreless run reached 250 minutes. And then it happened.
Marco Pappa, whose play has mirrored the Sounders' of late, spun free of one defender and sent in a low, speculative shot from about 20 yards out. It deflected ever so slightly off a defender and nestled into the back of the net. The drought was over and CenturyLink Field heaved a huge sigh of relief.
A few minutes later, Ricardo Clark pulled Obafemi Martins down in the penalty area and Gonzalo Pineda converted the subsequent penalty to give the Sounders the insurance goal. Stefan Frei made a few saves, including one on a first-half Brad Davis penalty, and the Sounders finished off the 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo on Saturday.
The Sounders ended their two-game losing streak, moved to 41 points on the season and reclaimed their spots atop the Supporters' Shield and Western Conference standings with two games in hand on their closest competitors.
It was not a pretty performance, not by any stretch, but it was one the Sounders needed in the worst way. A loss would not have been the end of the world and a tie would have probably worked from a standings perspective, but this win helps the Sounders change the narrative. Talk of a second-half swoon can be put to rest for at least a little while longer and makes next week's game against Real Salt Lake not nearly as much of a must-win, although that would still be very nice.
That little cushion was made all the more important when Martins earned himself a second yellow card on a senseless tackle from behind in the 86th minute. Martins will be eligible for Wednesday's U.S. Open Cup semifinal against the Chicago Fire, but will need to sit against RSL on Saturday.