SEATTLE — If ever three points were there for the taking, this was the match. Thanks to the Gold Cup and injuries, however, the Seattle Sounders came into Wednesday’s home match against DC United with a depleted squad, and a last minute injury to goalkeeper Stefan Frei took another starter out of contention. Tyler Miller made a rare MLS start as the Sounders looked to turn their first post-Gold Cup break match into a win at home. Despite an incredibly poor first half in which they came out flat, conceded three goals in the first 50 minutes, and looked as disconnected as they have all year, the Sounders mounted an epic comeback in the second half to beat DC 4-3.
Things kicked off disastrously for Seattle, as the first real action of the game was from the away side, who scored in the 8th minute after Patrick Nyarko nutmegged a pass through Miller’s legs to Deshorn Brown, who tapped it in. Sounders, who dominated possession for almost the entire match, started to get a bit of a rhythm after the goal. DC found their soft spot on the counters, and pushed forward with a confidence that almost gave them another goal just minutes later.
After the quick chance following the goal, the Sounders kept control for large swathes of time, but rarely made it into the DC United third of the field. Seattle may have held possession for much of the half (67.3% total), but they never did a single thing with it, going into halftime without scoring.
The Sounders were again burned after a turnover in the 27th minute when Ian Harkes beat half the Sounders defense and rolled it into the net to make it 2-0 to the away side. Defenders were being caught out of position, rotations were being missed, and confusion reigned supreme for a Sounders defense that struggled to deal with DC’s speed in attack.
The second half started even more miserably than the first, as DC took advantage of a number of defensive gaffes by Seattle to score in the 50th minute through Lloyd Sam. The initial mistake by Brad Evans was compounded by poor positioning from Marshall and Torres, and Sam pounced on the opportunity to make it 3-0.
The tides turned just seconds later. Joevin Jones ripped down the left flank and sent a cross in for Will Bruin, who headed it home for Seattle’s first of the night in the 51st minute. It was clear the goal was a huge relief to more than the fans in the stadium; a clear shift in the team’s attitude led to continued pressure that would be soon be rewarded again.
in the 54th minute Schmetzer sent in the first set of subs, with Nouhou and Kelvin Leerdam replacing Harry Shipp and Aaron Kovar. The two subs brought a clear change in energy and intent, driving the team forward from the back. Their efforts would not go in vain.
Nouhou made his presence felt in the 62nd minute, kicking off an attack with a blast of speed past his defender that culminated in a brilliant cross from the outside of Jones’ boot that Brad Evans sent into the net with a diving header.
With only a goal separating the teams and clear momentum advantage, Seattle continued to tighten the screws. The Sounders found the equalizer when Gustav Svensson fired in from a Lodeiro cross in the 74th. Though the comeback was already one stories would be told about, it was clear there was more to be had for the team.
In the 78th minute it finally came. Cristian Roldan pounced on a ball at the edge of DC’s defense and flicked it past the last defender to open up acres of space for himself in the final third. The Sounders midfielder left no doubt and fired it past Travis Worra to complete one of the most epic comebacks in Sounders history.
Unfortunately, the action wasn’t over at 4-3, even if the goalscoring was. With less than a minute to go in regulation, Lodeiro lost his head after getting fouled and kicked out at the defender. Referee Kevin Stott, standing right over it, deemed it worthy of a straight red, sending Lodeiro off. DC United, spirits clearly broken, made a cursory effort to mount a final comeback, but true threats never materialized. Seattle, sans starters Clint Dempsey, Osvaldo Alonso, Jordan Morris, and Stefan Frei, claimed the points.