COLUMBUS, Ohio – Entering the match on Saturday with the Columbus Crew, Sounders FC was determined to garner some road success.
What happened at Crew Stadium was a stiff test, beginning with a weather delay of over 90 minutes and a red card and injury within the first 20 minutes. Yet Seattle still found a way to emerge 1-0 victors to leap to third in the Western Conference at 12-8-6.
“We’re happy with the three points. Obviously, it wasn’t the way we drew it up,” Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said. “We had to deal with that adversity and I thought our team showed a lot of character.”
In front of a sellout crowd of 20,392 at Crew Stadium, Leo Gonzalez was shown a red card and ejected in the seventh minute when he pulled down Ryan Finley on a free run up the middle, leaving Seattle down a man for the final 83 minutes.
However, Sounders FC was able to negate that Columbus edge just as quickly as it was awarded.
After Seattle won a free kick in the attacking end, Eddie Johnson got in front of Josh Williams and got a header from the Mauro Rosales free kick, nodding it past Crew goalkeeper Matt Lampson for his seventh goal of the season, giving Seattle the 1-0 lead in the 14th minute.
“Mauro Rosales and I have a good relationship. We showed last year the relationship that we had and it’s starting to click again this year,” said Johnson, who also scored on the same combination in a 1-0 win over Portland last week.
In the 19th minute, Seattle turned to its bench as Brad Evans had to leave the match with a pulled calf muscle. He was replaced by Servando Carrasco, who started 12 straight matches from May through July, but in a match that would prove grueling for Sounders FC a first-half sub added to the obstacles it needed to overcome.
Columbus nearly found an equalizer in the 33rd minute, as Dominic Oduro got in behind Lamar Neagle, who moved to the left back role after Gonzalez was ejected, and skipped a cross in for Jairo Arrieta crashing into the box. Jhon Kennedy Hurtado slid in to defend the cross, though, then cleared the ball off the line to keep Seattle up, 1-0.
In the 45th minute, Neagle nearly added to the lead on a run up the left side. On the run, he played a one-two with Dempsey to get into the box, but his shot for the far post was deflected just wide for a corner kick.
Seattle went into the half toting a 1-0 lead despite being outshot 12-2, limiting the Crew to just one shot on goal in the first half.
“It was great organization from everybody,” said center back Zach Scott. “It wasn’t just the back four by any means.”
Columbus wasn’t able to get its next scoring chance until the 59th minute, but Oduro made it a tough task for Gspurning as he got in up the right side and forced the Seattle goalkeeper into a save from close range.
As solid as Gspurning was on that stop, he also was on the receiving end of some lucky bounces, too.
In the 76th minute, Konrad Warzycha got his head to a free kick, but clanged the shot off the crossbar. Four minutes later, Oduro cut in behind the Seattle defense and got around Gspurning at the top of the box, but put his contested left-footed effort bounced wide of the far post.
In the end, Seattle held off 24 shots from the Crew to earn the victory, and Gspurning registered his second consecutive shutout and eighth clean sheet of the season.
“I thought we did a good job of getting people in front,” Schmid said. “I thought the guys did a good job of stepping up, crowding the goal, making sure we blocked shots, try to get in and block crosses as well. We did what we needed to do.”
Sounders FC won’t have time to rest, returning to Seattle to host Chivas USA on Wednesday. The team will conclude its busy eight-day stretch on September 7 against the Chicago Fire.
Sounders FC – Eddie Johnson (Mauro Rosales) 14.
Crew – None.
Sounders FC – Leo Gonzalez (ejection) 7; Djimi Traore (caution) 76.
Crew – Danny O’Rourke (caution) 21; Agustin Viana (caution) 36.
LineupsSounders FC – Michael Gspurning, DeAndre Yedlin, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez, Mauro Rosales (Marc Burch 74), Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans (Servando Carrasco 19), Lamar Neagle, Eddie Johnson (Djimi Traore 61), Clint Dempsey.
Crew – Matt Lampson, Josh Williams, Danny O’Rourke, Chad Marshall, Agustin Viana (Konrad Warzycha 61), Dominic Oduro, Wil Trapp, Bernardo Anor, Justin Meram (Ethan Finlay 73), Jairo Arrieta, Ryan Finley.