SEATTLE – CenturyLink Field has become a fortress for Sounders FC in 2013.
On Wednesday, with a crowd of 39,180 on hand, Seattle bolted to an early lead against D.C. United, winning their fourth-straight home game with a 2-0 victory. Sounders FC improved to 7-5-3 overall and 4-1-2 at CenturyLink Field.
“First game back in front of the home fans was phenomenal,” said midfielder Brad Evans, who missed Seattle’s last home match on national team duty, but played for the U.S. in a 2-0 win over Panama in Seattle. “You always get a special feeling playing in front of these fans. It’s definitely something you never forget and try not to take for granted, but it was a great night.”
Playing their first game since June 22 and their first at home since June 8, Seattle was looking to bounce back from a 1-0 road loss to Real Salt Lake. Obafemi Martins made sure they would get back in the win column, scoring two goals to lift his team-leading total to six on the season while Michael Gspurning finished with four saves for his sixth shutout of the season.
“I think tonight was one of those games that you just have to grind out. I don’t think it was our best soccer. There were a couple of opportunistic goals,” head coach Sigi Schmid said. “Not having played in a while and playing irregularly over the last month, practice is not the same as games, so it takes a while to get your rhythm. I thought we were a little disjointed and it’s one of those games that you just have to roll up your sleeves and grind out.”
Seattle got the first shot of the match in the 18th minute, then quickly earned a lead one minute later.
Evans started the scoring sequence when he rolled a ball in behind the D.C. defense. Martins got behind James Riley, then beat Kyle Porter to the ball before blistering a left-footed shot inside the near post to beat Joe Willis for his fifth goal of the season to give Sounders FC the 1-0 advantage.
“When you have two dangerous forwards like that they are going to automatically retreat to defend the space behind. (It was) a great run by Oba and I had him in my sights the whole time,” said Evans, who registered his team-high third assist of the season. “I was lucky to squeeze through a small little gap and the finish from there was top class.”
Sounders FC limited D.C. United to just one shot in the first half, a long-range shot from Porter, but the visitors turned up the pressure in the second half and forced Gspurning into action.
The Seattle goalkeeper faced his toughest test in the 64th minute when Chris Pontius rocketed in a shot from distance, forcing him to dive to his left and paw the shot away for a corner.
“It’s one of the things that you always see as a keeper. The ball can come from every distance and you have to be ready,” Gspurning said. “At this moment I was ready and that was very crucial for the game.”
He would have one more challenging save in the 86th minute when Perry Kitchen cut a ball in from the left side of the box through traffic, but Gspurning ranged to his right to make the stop.
It looked like 1-0 would be the final score, but Martins added another to his account in stoppage time, fighting off Riley for a ball in the D.C. box and blasting it past Willis for his sixth goal of the season and a 2-0 win.
Sounders FC will head to Vancouver to meet Whitecaps FC on Saturday night at BC Place.
Sounders FC – Obafemi Martins (Brad Evans) 19; Obafemi Martins 91+.
DC United – None.
Sounders FC – Zach Scott (caution) 68; Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (caution) 73.
DC United – Alain Rochat (caution) 47.
Sounders FC – Michael Gspurning, Zach Scott, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Djimi Traore, Leo Gonzalez, Mauro Rosales (Lamar Neagle 78), Servando Carrasco, Andy Rose (Shalrie Joseph 76), Brad Evans, Obafemi Martins, Eddie Johnson.
DC United – Joe Willis, James Riley, Ethan White, Daniel Woolard, Chris Korb, Sainey Nyassi (Casey Townsend 76), Perry Kitchen, Kyle Porter, Alain Rochat, Lionard Pajoy, Chris Pontius.