Seattle Sounders 0, NYCFC 2: Frank Lampard scores, Sounders struggle to answer in second straight loss

SEATTLE - Frank Lampard scored a controversial goal in the first half and a typically porous NYCFC defense surprisingly did the rest at CenturyLink Field on Saturday, as the Seattle Sounders dropped their second straight game at home in a 2-0 loss.

Lampard’s 38th-minute goal silenced an otherwise raucous crowd of more than 47,537 fans for the Sounders’ second annual Pride Day, and the club’s first of five full-stadium matches this season.

Lampard redirected a cross from defender Ronaldo Matarrita past Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei and into the back of the net, even as Sounders players howled for a handball on the former English international midfielder. Head referee Alan Kelly consulted with his assistant referee after the play but ultimately ruled the goal would stand, putting the Sounders in a hole from which they could never escape, despite a wealth of chances on the offensive end.

Matarrita added an insurance goal in the 87th minute after a scramble inside the Sounders box, blasting a right-footed shot into an open net after NYCFC striker David Villa drew Frei off his line. Substitute midfielder Mikey Lopez picked up the assist.

The Sounders’ best opportunities came in the early going. Forward Aaron Kovar drifted a cross into the box in the 5th minute that narrowly missed the sliding foot of forward Jordan Morris in front of the goal, and Morris skipped a shot just wide of the post in the 16th minute after a ball over the top from midfielder Erik Friberg.

Morris also hammered a shot wide in the 50th minute after a ball over the top from midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz and forward Nelson Valdez redirected an Ivanschitz free kick just wide in the 67th minute after coming off the bench.

Frei finished with four saves in the game, none better than a right-handed stab on a shot by Villa in the 10th minute after the former Spanish international cut inside on Sounders defender Tyrone Mears and scorched a shot for the far post.

NYCFC, meanwhile, came into Saturday’s game with the worst defense in MLS, having allowed 31 goals on the season. The Sounders have scored 13 goals this season, second-fewest in MLS behind the Chicago Fire.

The loss was the Sounders’ fourth in eight games at CenturyLink Field this season, and the first time the club has fallen to an Eastern Conference club at home in 2016. After a grueling three-game East Coast road swing in May and June left them with losses at New England the New York Red Bulls, the Sounders have lost five of their last six overall.

The Sounders once again played without forward Clint Dempsey, who was on duty with the U.S. national team in the Copa America Centenario consolation game on Saturday night in Phoenix. Dempsey is expected to return to the team this week and could be available for duty on the road against Toronto FC on July 2, his first action since May 21.