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Second-half rally lifts Sounders over Union


Photo by Jane Gershovich/JaneG. Photography


SEATTLE– The Seattle Sounders keep finding themselves trailing early, and they keep finding ways to salvage a result.

Saturday night was no different.

Defender Chad Marshall, signed in the offseason at least partially due to his aerial prowess, put the Sounders ahead in the 84th minute, powerfully heading a Marco Pappa corner kick into the far netting for a 2-1 lead in front of 38,516 at a soggy CenturyLink Field.

Marshall was also strong in defense throughout the match, snuffing out counterattacks and blocking six shots to prevent the Union from adding a second goal.

“I’m a big guy, and I’m just trying to get in the way,” Marshall said when asked about deflecting so many shots. “I think I have a nice Adidas tattoo on my back from one of them.”

The Union couldn’t mount a serious response down the stretch despite some shaky Seattle defending.

Trailing most of the night after allowing an early goal for the fifth time this season, Seattle found the equalizer just after the hour-mark.

In the 61st minute, Brad Evans headed a loose ball into the area that found Obafemi Martins near the penalty spot as he charged past defender Amobi Okugo. Martins chested the ball to his left foot and buried a one-touch shot past goalkeeper Zac MacMath, tying the match at 1-1 with his fourth goal of the season.

“I’m proud of our team, our character, our willingness and ability to fight back again,” said Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid.

The assist was a bit of redemption for Evans, whose own goal gave the Union the early lead.

Philadelphia got on the scoreboard in just the 13th minute on a 35-yard Cristian Maidana free kick that skimmed off Evans’ head before finding the back of the net for the 1-0 Union lead.

“It just skipped off my head,” Evans said. “First time I’ve ever had one of those, but, yeah, [it] definitely feels better helping the team tie the game.”

Seattle nearly scored on multiple occasions in the first half.

In just the seventh minute, Lamar Neagle one-touched a wide open shot off the crossbar from 15 yards out.

In the 39th minute, referee Silviu Petrescu awarded a penalty for an Okugo handball in the area. MacMath dove to his left on the ensuing penalty kick, getting just enough glove on Osvaldo Alonso’s driving low shot to deflect it off the post.

It was the third straight penalty MacMath has saved this season.

Seattle tweaked its formation in the second half, pinching its wide midfielders to clog the center of the park and to open up space for overlapping fullback runs. The effect was almost immediately obvious, especially after Schmid inserted Pappa into the match for the injured Dylan Remick and shifted Brad Evans from midfield to left back.

Philadelphia (1-3-5, 8 points) is now winless in its last eight matches, tying a club record set in both 2010 and 2012. The Union were shut out in their previous two games; only Evans’ own goal ended Philadelphia’s 203 minute scoreless streak.

With an overhauled midfield featuring Maurice Edu and Maidana—both Designated Players—as well as Vincent Noguira and his Ligue 1 pedigree, many expected the Union to climb the Eastern Conference ladder this season.

It isn’t happening so far.

“Disappointment was the feeling right after the game,” said former Sounder Sebastien Le Toux. “It’s just very frustrating. I thought we played well but a mistake here and there cost us the game. There’s a little bit of frustration and disappointment, but we have to move forward.”

“It’s a difficult one to take,” said Philadelphia head coach John Hackworth, “because [we] came in and played well in the first half and we got up a goal.”

“I feel like the defense has a good game and the offense struggles,” added Okugu, “or the offense has a good game and the defense struggles. We just have to have a complete performance from both sides and hopefully we can get a win.”

Seattle (6-2-1, 19 points) has won four straight and sits perched atop the league, led by Clint Dempsey’s dominating start to the season and an offense capable of overwhelming opponents. Coming into Saturday’s slate of matches, the Sounders were tied for the league lead in goals, and also led MLS in assists, road goals, shots-on-goal, and goal differential.

It wasn’t all good news for the Sounders, though. Remick left the match in the 51st minute with an injured ankle. The Sounders were already shorthanded at the position, with usual starter Leo Gonzalez missing the match with a hamstring injury. Evans and late substitute Zach Scott split duty at left back for the remainder of Saturday’s match.

Looking forward, the Sounders host FC Dallas (5-2-1, 16 points) Wednesday before traveling to New England for a weekend match against the Revolution (4-3-2, 14 points). Philadelphia hosts DC United (3-2-2, 11 points) next weekend.

Here are the match highlights:


  1. Glad to see Marshall get comments…that guy can play.

    What was Columbus thinking trading him for AM and a 3rd round pick. 3rd round ? Are we sure there really is a third round ? I assume Columbus needed to get rid of his salary…but man that guy can play.

  2. Berry sits on the bench and Hoppenot comes in. There’s Sigi an actual professional manager. Then there’s John Hackworth, a bottom feeding buffoon!

  3. I don’t think I’ve ever been so frustrated with a Union team in my life. The talent is there but week after week I must watch us take a lead and in the back of my mind know this lead will not last. We would be getting blown out week after week if it was not for MacMath.

    • I’m with ya Man. It is absolutely driving me crazy. The Union finally have a team that’s not filled with grinders but they can’t get anyone to hit net and they get scored on after the 80th minute every games.

      • You should take all of that as good news. Look, the Union has a very talented group…this season. They need time to gel—perfect example is Martins + Dempsey last season versus this season. The fact that the Union hold it together until the 80th minute is proof of this: soccer leans toward an individual, physical game for the for first 70-80 minutes and a group, mental game thereafter. So your roster clearly has the skills and talent and just need a season to become a team.

  4. Good recap, King, how’d Deuce look on the day? After Omar’s knock we may very well be shopping for CBs (and yeah, even before the knock we shoulda been shopping )

    • I thought he looked pretty good. He had some nice individual play & linked well with Martins, but there was just something lacking in that final pass/touch that prevented a big scoring spree like vs Colorado. The team seemed off in the first half. Dempsey also had a nice free kick from 20 yards out that was parried away for a corner.

    • I agree with bb. Dempsey’s first touch was perfect, but he and others seemed to get the ball caught under their feet in the final third. Not sure why since I’d expect a slippery ball with the rain pouring down, but maybe they tried overcompensating? His free kick was great but should have been awarded right on the edge of the box instead of ten yards out where the ref placed it. Crazy that Traore of all people won the kick.

      Deuce and Martins are a scary duo for defenses. Martins clearly used to be a lot faster when younger and able to outrun defenses. Seems that he hasn’t quite come to grips with aging….

  5. Evans played very well—no sign of lingering injury or loss of fitness. His leaping was bested only by Marshall.

    Marshall definitely merits a call-up to camp. I know, I know: it’s really last-minute, but the guy is an error-free CB and wins every header.

    Edu looked threatening and often found himself in wide open space but wasn’t passed the ball.

    • The article mentions ‘shaky defending’ Was it just me, or was Yedlin caught out of position a number of times in the first half? A lot of them were probably during counterattacks, but I didn’t think it was one of Deandre’s better games.

      • I thought it was one of Yedlin’s better games recently. He only got caught out because he pushed forward—which is his role of course. Can’t blame him for taking a second longer than the ball to cover the entire field when Philly countered 🙂

        But when he defended, he didn’t make naive errors like we’ve seen in recent matches.

        So, the shaky defending mostly comes down to:
        1. The tradeoff of having wingbacks who bomb forward often
        2. Traore giving up some bad passes
        3. Remick leaving, forcing a substitution that brought Pappa into midfield and pushed Evans to left back. Evans was solid, but Pappa is not a defender.

      • The Sounders do ask Yedlin to push high up the pitch, so a lot of the time what looks like Yedlin just being out of position is, in fact, the place the Sounders want him to be.

    • Evans played very well? What game were you watching? I was there, and I saw Evans score an own goal, take several terrible touches in which he lost possession, bad passes, slow movement, not to mention an awful beard. If Jurgen takes him to the World Cup, we’re in trouble.

      • Since you were watching in person, I would rec. watching a replay of it. Other than the own goal he had a good game and did not miss a beat playing LB.

      • Hopper: I was there too. Apparently, I was standing in front of you, obscuring your view of the field.

      • haha. this. while evans wasn’t perfect on the night, he played well and even held his own as an emergency left back.

        good, solid performance. something to build on.

      • I thought he played pretty well at LB. Many disagree, but I think he is out of position in mid.

        And I love the beard, so there.

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