Absent suspended Clint Dempsey for a second game, the Sounders lost a second match in three games in their Clink fortress when Justin Meram scored at the end of stoppage time to give the Columbus a 2-1 win on a rainy Saturday night.
The Sounders finished the match with 10 men after Djimi Traore was red-carded and ejected in the 58th minute following a tackle from behind of Crew forward Dominic Oduro. The subsequent penalty kick by Federico Higuain blasted past goalie Stefan Frei to level the match at one.
The decider came in the 94th minute after the Crew had a short corner kick amid confusion about the start of play. Higuain spotted Meram unmarked at the top of the area and he pounded home a shot from 18 yards inside the far post.
Sounders coach Sigi Schmid thought referee Allen Chapman mishandled the set piece.
“Usually the referee positions himself outside the 18 when a corner kick is taken, I rarely see a referee’s position almost inside the six-yard box,” he said. “So it looked like he was talking to our players. If you’re talking to our players, why do you let the ball get played? Then he’s backpedaling. If the ball had been swung in, he was in no position to make the call in the melee.
“He had done that earlier in the game as well, where he talked to one of our players and he let the quick free kick. You can’t do that. If you’re going to talk to one of our players, then you got to stop the play. But that doesn’t make an excuse for us for falling asleep.”
The loss ended a 51-match unbeaten run when the Sounders scored the first goal. The opener came in the 23rd minute after Lamar Neagle intercepted a pass in the Sounders’ end. He forwarded the ball to Obafemi Martins, who headed to Kenny Cooper behind the defense. Cooper and Neagle had a two on one that Cooper converted for his first goal of the season.
It was the lone shot Crew GK Steve Clark couldn’t stop in an otherwise stout effort. He stopped Neagle three times in the first half, one on a diving stop of a header in the 19th minute, a minute later when Clark pushed Neagle’s shot over the crossbar, and a final denial in the 39th minute when Clark dove and made a stop from 10 yards.
The Crew improved to 3-0-0 for the first time in franchise history. The Sounders fell to 2-2-0 and will face the Timbers in Portland Saturday. Three Sounders, Dempsey, Brad Evans and DeAndre Yedlin, are booked to play in the the U.S. Men’s National Team against Mexico in Phoenix Wednesday.
However, Evans sat out the Crew match with a calf still sore from a blow he took in the Toronto game.
he Sounders lack sufridient firepower thMissed opportunities early made the Sounders pay for a crucial error late.
Seattle took a first-half lead through Kenny Cooper’s first goal of the season, but a red-card tackle by Djimi Traore changed the whole course of Saturday’s game against the Columbus Crew, allowing the visitors to score twice in the second-half — including a winner in the final seconds — to steal a 2-1 win at a rainy CenturyLink Field.
The Sounders had been on a 51-game unbeaten streak when scoring the game’s first goal, the longest active run in MLS that dated to the end of 2010. Crew forward Justin Meram changed that when he collected a short corner-kick and curled in a right-footed shot into the far corner of the net.
Columbus is off to its first 3-0 start in the franchise’s 19-year history. Seattle, which played the final 30 minutes with 10 men, dropped to 2-2 in front of 38,469 drenched fans.
The Sounders fell to 3-8-7 all-time when playing down a man and 5-10-10 in any game they receive a red card.
Trailing 1-0 in the second half, Columbus pulled even on a wild sequence that started in the 58th minute. Forward Dominic Oduro got behind the Sounders’ defense and was tackled from behind by Traore as his shot was blocked away by goalkeeper Stefan Frei.
Referee Allen Chapman, though, awarded a penalty kick for the contract from Traore and issued a red card to the veteran defender. Crew star Federico Higuain powerfully finished the PK a minute later for his third goal of the year.
Frei’s shutout streak ended at 214 minutes, the longest in MLS this season.
In the first half, the Sounders had a flurry of chances in up-and-down action and might have been unlucky to only take a 1-0 lead into the break.
The goal came in the 22nd minute, when a flick-on pass by Obafemi Martins led to a two-on-one breakaway for Seattle. Cooper, who had Lamar Neagle as a passing option to his right, elected to take the shot himself, curling a picture-perfect right-footed effort past goalkeeper Steve Clark.
Martins has either a goal or assist in his last three games. The Sounders have outscored the Crew 12-3 in the first halves of nine meetings all-time, and it could’ve been worse.
Neagle, a Federal Way native, had four shots before halftime by himself, in particular a 21st-minute header and then 39th-minute shot from the top of the penalty box that resulted in two of Clark’s three first-half saves.
Columbus had its share of chances, as well, none closer than in the 43rd minute when Higuain beat Frei to the ball but his chip shot was denied by the crossbar. Crew midfielder Bernardo Anor was there for the rebound toward an open goal, but his header bounced wide.
The Sounders were without Clint Dempsey, who was completing a two-game suspension.
The offense was aggressive but their timing isn’t there yet. The defense looked okay but obviously has a few lapses. There’s still some good that can come from this as it was a winnable match.