As the clock ticked over into stoppage time, it was increasingly looking like the Seattle Sounders' season-long three-game home stand would end with a feeling of incompleteness. No, they hadn't lost, but after claiming six points on their recent three-game road trip, more was expected.
But then Clint Dempsey -- officially Chad Barrett -- came to the rescue.
Dempsey collected the ball about 40 yards out and then swung out to the wing where Tyrone Mears had just been aching for a chance like this. Dempsey immediately made his way to the far post, where Mears delivered a perfect cross. Dempsey's shot went across the goal mouth and appeared headed across the line when Barrett got his boot on the ball just to make sure. Either way, it gave the Sounders a hard-fought 2-1 win over the New York Red Bulls on Sunday.
Until that fateful play, the day had hardly gone according to plan. Despite the better chances and generally looking the strong team, the Sounders went into the half trailing 1-0 after Lloyd Sam put away a stray ball in the box. The chance had been created when Brad Evans was called for a somewhat questionable hand ball just outside the penalty area. Bradley Wright-Phillips' free kick then struck the wall, but Sam was the first to the rebound and headed in an uncontested shot.
The Red Bulls nearly extended their lead in the second half when Wright-Phillips got behind the Sounders defense, only to have Evans make a game-saving tackle from behind. Replays suggested that Evans was probably lucky not to have surrendered a penalty, having come in from behind, but they also showed the entry pass striking Wright-Phillips' arm. Evans came up slowly and ultimately was removed in the 74th minute with an apparent injury.
Either way, the Sounders made the most of their second life. Marco Pappa got out on the break and was able to weave his way around the Red Bulls defense before roofing a shot from about 10 yards out.
The chances continued to come, but it wasn't until stoppage time that the Sounders found their winner. Barrett's third goal of the season allowed the Sounders to claim seven of nine points on the home stand and put them back on top of the Supporters' Shield.
- Maybe it was the broken nose, but Obafemi Martins never quite looked himself. The Nigerian forward had one spectacular look in the first half, getting the ball in the penalty area. But instead of hitting the open shot first time, he tried to control and dribble around the defender. Martins ended up leaving the ball at his own feet. There were other examples, too, but he wasn't able to put a shot on goal. There's no reason to be too worried here, but it is worth noting that Martins hasn't scored since grabbing two in New York City.
- For possibly the first time all year, a relatively full strength Sounders side struggled to figure out an opposing defense. Yes, they generated some chances, but the Red Bulls' high pressure gave the Sounders fits. There were a couple instances where the Sounders simply struggled to get the ball out of their own end and they seemed frustrated. Possibly a sign of how much they've improved, though, is that the Sounders still completed 82 percent of their 502 passes and squeezed off 11 shots.
- Lamar Neagle appears to have lost his starting spot and doesn't seem particularly close to getting it back. Yes, he was the first player off the bench and his willingness to stretch the defense helped open up the Red Bulls defense. But he also struggled to have a material impact on the game despite getting 26 minutes after relieving Cristian Roldan, who looked more comfortable and dangerous.