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D.C. United vs. Sounders, recap: Flat in the Capitol

Sounders now face a pair of very important matches to close out the season.

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at D.C. United Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a disappointing midweek tie, the Seattle Sounders knew they could still clinch a playoff spot with a win over D.C. United on Sunday. They did not get it.

Despite a promising start, the Sounders surrendered the match’s first goal and never really looked the same after that. They 2-0 scoreline was probably fair all things considered, but the Sounders never truly looked capable of getting a result once the game was beyond 15 minutes old.

Key Moments

  • The Sounders nearly got off to a dream start when Victor Rodriguez put a perfectly weighted ball over the top that gave Brad Smith a free run at goal. But with Raul Ruidiaz making a run down the middle, Smith chose to shoot rather than pass. Bill Hamid was able to get just enough on the block to send the shot off the crossbar.
  • It was United’s turn to hit the woodwork in the 13th minute, with Wayne Rooney hitting the top corner on a bending shot that stayed out.
  • Any relief the Sounders felt didn’t last long as just one minute later as Lucas Rodriguez scored the opener. The play started with Gustav Svensson blocking a pass that fell to the top of the penalty area. Rodriguez knocked the ball down with his upper torso — VAR was inconclusive as to whether or not it was his arm — and fell to Cristian Roldan. Rodriguez blocked Roldan’s clearance attempt and then beat Stefan Frei to the near post with a low shot.
  • From that point, United started to take control of the match. Still, the Sounders nearly equalized in the 40th minute when a ball deflected out to an onrushing Kelvin Leerdam who hit a first-time attempt from the top of the penalty area that appeared destined fro goal only to be blocked by a defender.
  • Rooney nearly scored again in the 43rd minute when his free kick beat Frei, only to hit off the crossbar and stay out.
  • United picked up the second half pretty much where they left off and nearly were back on the board in the 52nd minute when they created a well-worked chance that resulted in Paul Arriola hitting a shot from near the penalty spot in transition only for Frei to come up with a big save.
  • United broke through a few minutes later after a poor Leerdam challenge set up a dangerous free kick. Rooney took his attempt low and hard, evading a couple defenders and falling to Federic Brillant who redirected it into the goal.
  • United was mostly content to let the Sounders have the ball at that point, but were rarely under much sustained threat.
  • The Sounders’ best chance came in the 66th minute when Ruidiaz and Morris combined to set up Luis Silva for a shot in the 67th minute that appeared to have Hamid beaten, but it went wide.

Talking points

No Lodeiro is no excuse: That Nicolas Lodeiro was ruled out of the match was definitely a blow and possibly helps explain the lackluster performance somewhat, but it’s also a somewhat hallow excuse. No one who started against D.C. is outside the normal rotation of players and there was more than enough talent to be able to compete with a middling team like United. Instead, Jordan Morris had his quietest match since returning from the Gold Cup; Ruidiaz was clearly frustrated at his lack of service; and United were repeatedly able to generate dangerous attacks. None of this bodes well.

One big chance: One of the cliche’s you can’t help but notice is “goals change games” and it’s impossible to not catch yourself thinking about what might have happened if the Sounders converted that chance in the 7th minute. It was a spectacular pass from Rodriguez that set Smith free and that’s probably the guy you want with the ball when Ruidiaz is charging down the middle of the pitch. That Smith chose to shoot instead of pass is certainly excusable — the window to hit Ruidiaz was probably smaller than it seemed — but I think he’s probably going to want that one back. A square pass has the possibility of putting Ruidiaz in alone and even if the play doesn’t come off, I think we all feel better about the chance.

Two big games: Thanks to results around the league, the Sounders aren’t in a much worse position now than they were before the game. You can look at that as a huge missed opportunity — they would have clinched a playoff spot and would have had a four-point cushion for the No. 2 spot — or you can be relieved that the Sounders still control their own destiny. If they can at least get a point against the Earthquakes, they’ll still be playing for the right to host a playoff game at the very least. A loss in San Jose? That means they might be playing for their postseason lives in the season finale.

Did you see that?!?!

For a brief moment it looked like VAR might bail the Sounders out on the first goal. Not sure it would have mattered.

He said what?!?

“It’s frustrating, especially coupled with having a big opportunity at home on Wednesday and we squandered that one. Was hoping for more points than four in three games. Not good enough.” - Frei

One stat to tell the tale

6 — The Sounders came into this game riding a six-game winning streak against D.C. United and had not lost to them since 2011.

Poll

Man of the Match

This poll is closed

  • 46%
    Stefan Frei
    (135 votes)
  • 28%
    Gustav Svensson
    (83 votes)
  • 9%
    Brad Smith
    (27 votes)
  • 15%
    Victor Rodriguez
    (45 votes)
290 votes total Vote Now

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