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Bad times in the wrong Washington

The Sounders fell 2-1 to D.C. United after yet another red card.

Last Updated
5 min read
Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Sounders started a quick two-game road trip with a stop in the other Washington to face D.C. United on Saturday evening where they fell 2-1.

The Sounders took some time to have their first real chance, but when the moment came they capitalized. Some smart passing down the right wing between Josh Atencio, Danny Musovski and Jordan Morris sprung the latter into space where he spotted Albert Rusnák for a cutback at the top of the box. Rusnák's initial shot was blocked, but the Sounders did well to keep the play alive as Atencio got a blocked shot and eventually the ball found its way back to Morris who found Léo Chú with a cross and Chú put it away beautifully.

After Seattle’s goal, things swung in D.C.’s favor pretty completely. In the 28th minute Jared Stroud did well to control a ball over the top with his chest with only Cody Baker and Stefan Frei between him and the goal. Baker was able to put him off balance a bit, but Stroud got around him and Frei was late to react as Stroud progressed towards goal before pulling the player down in the penalty area. Frei was shown a red card and Christian Benteke stepped up to the penalty spot where he smashed the ball into the corner to beat Andrew Thomas and tie the game.

As the first half wound down, Benteke popped up again with a towering header over the back of Cristian Roldan that flew over Thomas and put the hosts in front. The Sounders had responded well to going down a man, and were undoubtedly unfortunate to have gone behind. They went into the second half undeterred, continuing to push for the equalizer, creating plenty of chances throughout the final 45 minutes. Only Alex Bono and the post stood between Seattle and an equalizer or even something more on a number of occasions. While this felt like an improved performance, Seattle remain on the hunt for improved results.

Key moments

7 - The first chance of the game goes to D.C. as Mateusz Klich draws a free kick from about 20 yards out, and Aaron Herrera’s shot is just wide of the post.

14 - GOAL! Jordan Morris to Léo Chú for a headed goal that nutmegs Alex Bono and opens the scoring! Sounders lead 1-0

17 - D.C. United with a dangerous chance as Jacob Murrell gets an open header at the six-yard box off of a cross from Herrera, but he puts it over the bar.

22 - Save! Stefan Frei comes up with a big save, denying Muller on a look from near the penalty spot with a big dive to his left.

28 - Penalty and a red card, as Stefan Frei brings down Jared Stroud in the box after Stroud beat Cody Baker to get in on goal. Seattle goes down to 10 men.

32 - Goal, D.C. United. Christian Benteke puts the penalty in the top corner to tie the game. 1-1

40 - Yeimar has a shot from the top of the box after some good work from Josh Atencio and Obed Vargas, but the shot is right at Bono.

45 - Goal. Benteke soars over Cristian Roldan to head home over Andrew Thomas and put D.C. in the lead. 2-1 D.C. United

59 - Obed Vargas is called for a handball at the edge of the box, setting up yet another dangerous free kick for United. Benteke puts an acrobatic shot wide.

68 - Seattle almost level the score as Josh Atencio gets a great header on a free kick from João Paulo, but his effort toward the bottom corner is put off the post.

83 - Another good look coming from a set piece, once again falling to Josh Atencio but Bono comes up with the save.

88 - Albert Rusnák goes close with a header this time, but Bono once again denies Seattle a bit of satisfaction.

90+4 - Cristian Roldan has a golden chance at the top of the six-yard box on a feed from Vargas, but he can’t make good contact and the ball is easily collected.

Quick thoughts

Seeing red: Stefan Frei’s red card was the fourth red for the team in just their ninth game of the season. This comes on the heels of both Jackson Ragen and Alex Roldan being shown reds against Vancouver. At this rate, if they don’t clean things up and stop putting themselves in these positions, they could easily eclipse the club’s MLS record for red cards in a season of nine in 2009 and again in 2013. I don’t have a solution, or even a real diagnosis for the cause beyond a team struggling and failing to right the ship leading to frustration and poor decisions. This is just where we are right now, and it stinks.

Léo Chú’s brief return: Léo Chú made his first appearance since March 16 after missing time due to injury. He got the start with the Sounders heavily rotating, and made a strong impression as he scored the opening goal with an excellent header. Unfortunately for Chú, he was the player sacrificed to bring on Thomas when Frei was sent off. It’s a good way to mark your return to the field, and hopefully he’ll be able to carry on from there as the Sounders will need everyone to start contributing if they’re going to turn things around.

A Sisyphean endeavor: This game feels a little like the season so far in microcosm. The inability to turn chances into goals leaves the Sounders in a tough spot, but largely unforced errors turn a difficult task into an impossible one. No matter how well the team does to create chances and find a goal here and there, plays like the one that saw Frei sent off and gave D.C. a penalty or repeatedly conceding set piece opportunities from dangerous positions to a team with Christian Benteke are ultimately going to guarantee that boulder you just pushed up the mountain is going to roll back down to the bottom. There are positives the team can take from this one, and while the penalty and red card were pretty clearly correct the referee left folks with plenty of reasons for complaint, but none of those things add to your point total.

Notable quote

Player Spotlight

Josh Atencio – The midfielder hasn’t exactly been at his best so far this season, but despite the result he showed a ton of the qualities that make him so exciting from a huge defensive contribution to multiple looks at goal that only don’t appear on the score sheet because of big saves from Alex Bono. In addition to three quality shots, he also won 4 of 6 tackles and 12 of 22 duels. He was everywhere.