Nicolás Lodeiro scored a penalty kick in the first half, but Josef Martinez found an equalizer, and the Seattle Sounders survived a second-half red card to escape with a 1-1 draw against Atlanta United at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday.
The Sounders bagged the lead on the stroke of halftime after referee Baldomero Toledo awarded a penalty kick following Video Review for a handball in the Atlanta penalty box. Lodeiro stepped up and slotted home the ensuing look from the spot, affording Seattle the 1-0 lead that they would hold into the halftime break.
Martinez would find the leveler just after second-half kickoff, however, lofting a perfectly weighted header over Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei off a feed from Julian Gressel, knotting the contest at one apiece.
The Sounders were dealt a crucial blow in the 63rd minute after defender Jordan McCrary was issued a second yellow card and sent off by Toledo, putting Seattle down a man for the rest of the match. Atlanta would apply a flurry of pressure following the red card, but the Sounders defense managed to see the game out and escape with the 1-1 draw.
The Sounders depth has been stretched a bit in recent games thanks to World Cup call-ups and some injuries but a few of those recently-absent faces made their return to the pitch on Sunday. The first was Kelvin Leerdam, who made his first league appearance since June 9 as a he’s been recovering from an ankle injury. Midfielder Gustav Svensson also made a second-half cameo fresh off World Cup duty with Sweden, while captain Ozzie Alonso came on late after missing Seattle’s last two games against New England and Colorado.
This was easily the biggest game of Seattle’s season so far when taking into account all the variables that came with it. There was the time slot, which saw the match aired on FOX directly after the 2018 FIFA World Cup final between France and Croatia. There was also an Atlanta United opponent that is currently playing like the best team in MLS and a league-record crowd of 72,243 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. All things considered, Head Coach Brian Schmetzer will probably feel like this could have been a three-point game given Seattle found the first goal, but it’s also doubtful he’ll be complaining too much about a road point in a hostile environment, playing down a man for much of the second half.
Sounders fans were clamoring for the debut of new striker Raúl Ruidíaz, who was eligible to play an MLS match for the first time on Sunday. Unfortunately, after McCrary’s red card, the Sounders focused more on weathering Atlanta’s star-studded attack and Ruidíaz didn’t end up seeing the field. Expect the Peruvian to be on the field for Seattle’s next game, which will see them take on the Vancouver Whitecaps at CenturyLink Field next Saturday, July 21.
SEA - Nicolás Lodeiro 45'
ATL - Josef Martínez (Julian Gressel) 48'
ATL - Leandro González Pirez (Unsporting Behavior) 15'
SEA - Jordan McCrary (Unsporting Behavior) 26'
ATL - Franco Escobar (Dissent) 44'
ATL - Michael Parkhurst (Unsporting Behavior) 56'
SEA - Jordan McCrary (Unsporting Behavior) 63'
SEA - Nicolás Lodeiro (Handball) 90'+4'