SEATTLE - If ever there were a game to encapsulate the first 13 matches of the MLS season for the Sounders FC, Thursday night was it.
After dominating the run of play for most of the first 39 minutes, the Sounders FC fell behind on two unpredictable goals. A third on a heads up play put Seattle down 3-0, but they kept the fight and scored two goals in the games waning moments and nearly added a third to battle to a draw.
In the end, it wasn’t enough and DC United left Qwest Field with their first road win of the season, topping the Sounders FC 3-2 in the final game before the league goes on hiatus for the FIFA World Cup.
“We got beat by Chris Pontius. We showed character getting two goals at the end, but time ran out,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “At this point, with the World Cup break, we need to focus on the points in front of us, not what points we've missed.”
Chris Pontius nabbed a hat-trick as DC United improved to 3-8-1 on the season while Seattle fell to 4-6-3, getting goals from James Riley and Fredy Montero.
Freddie Ljungberg was a man possessed in the first half, working his defender inside and out to set up opportunities throughout the half. Seattle couldn’t get on the right end of the ball though and the game stayed at 0-0.
Pontius was fortunate on his first two goals, getting a deflection off the back of Patrick Ianni on the first in the 39th minute and catching a bend in the ball in the 44th to handcuff Kasey Keller, who got both hands on the ball, but not enough of it to keep it from spilling into the net. All of a sudden the Sounders found themselves trailing 2-0 before halftime.
“It was difficult. We give up a bad goal with the deflection – that stuff happens. And then I give up a bad goal and we’re 2-0 down and you think still everybody is confident, thinking we are going to get back in this game,” said Keller, who finished with two saves in the losing effort. “After I blocked it I thought I had it and it just kind of spun away from me.”
The Sounders continued to control the game in the second half, but it again was DC to strike first. Off a quick restart, Santino Quaranta crossed a free kick to Pontius for a header at the far post. He knocked it back the other way and hit the edge of the post before Keller could recover, giving DC a 3-0 edge.
Seattle would not be so easily disposed of on their home turf though.
The Sounders continued on the attack and Riley breathed some life into the team with his first goal of the season in the 90th minute. Working a give-and-go, he took a pass from Nathan Sturgis at the right side of the box, took a touch and blasted it inside the far post to pull the score to 3-1.
Just seconds later Ljungberg found Fredy Montero with a cross into the middle of the box and Montero rose above the crowd of defenders to head it home for his fifth goal of the season and narrowing the deficit to 3-2.
Just a minute later, Ljungberg ran up the left wing, bringing the 36,146 in attendance to a crescendo, only to have the air taken away from them when DC United stopped the attack and a short time later the referee blew the final whistle and the Sounders comeback was stopped.
“We were a bit unlucky. All of a sudden it broke for us at the end where it hadn't been before. We were creating things, getting forward,” Schmid said. “We were close, but we still have to improve our finish.”
The Sounders won’t play again until June 27 when they take on the Philadelphia Union at their brand new PPL Park.
DC United - Chris Pontius 39; Pontius 44; Pontius (Santino Quaranta) 79.
Sounders FC - James Riley (Nathan Sturgis) 90; Fredy Montero (Freddie Ljungberg) 91+
DC United - Troy Perkins,Devon McTavish, Dejan Jakovic, Julius James, Jordan Graye (Barry Rice 49), Andy Najar, Stephen King, Clyde Simms, Chris Pontius (Jaime Moreno 81), Luciano Emilio (Adam Cristman 62), Santino Quaranta.
Sounders FC - Kasey Keller, James Riley, Jeff Parke, Tyrone Marshall, Leo Gonzalez, Freddie Ljungberg, Brad Evans, Patrick Ianni (Nathan Sturgis 64), Steve Zakuani (Sanna Nyassi 66), Fredy Montero, Pat Noonan (Roger Levesque 75).