MLS MATCH RECAP: Crew 0 - Seattle Sounders FC 1
After a severe thunderstorm delayed the match nearly two hours, the sellout crowd of 20,392 in attendance at Columbus Crew Stadium saw the home team fall 1-0 to a Seattle Sounders squad that played more than 83 minutes of the game with ten men.
While Crew captain and designated player Federico Higuain served the first match of his two-game suspension, rookie forward Ryan Finley earned his first MLS start for Columbus. Recently-acquired forward Clint Dempsey started the match at forward for Seattle alongside his US men's national team colleague Eddie Johnson.
The drama started early in the match, when Seattle defender Leonardo Gonzalez was issued a red card in the seventh minute.
A deflection gave Crew forward Ryan Finley a breakaway toward goal just past the halfway line, and as the rookie accelerated past the last Seattle defender, Gonzalez yanked him to the wet turf, forcing referee Ismail Elfath to reach into his back pocket and give Columbus a man advantage for the remainder of the match.
Despite that disadvantage, the Sounders were the first to find the net only eight minutes later, when a Mauro Rosales free kick found the head of Johnson. The Seattle striker found a seam in the Columbus defense and easily headed home the opener.
As Seattle played with ten men, the match seemed to open up for both teams, and the half played out with a plethora of chances in both directions. A sliding block by Jhon Kennedy Hurtado prevented Jairo Arrieta from equalizing on a Dominic Oduro cross in the 33rd minute, and Crew goalkeeper Matt Lampson got a toe on a Lamar Neagle shot just before the half to redirect a shot that would have given Seattle a 2-0 lead.
The Sounders tired down the stretch and spent much of the second half bunkering in their own end of the field. But despite numerous Columbus crosses and passes into dangerous areas, the Crew could not break through a Seattle side that was clearly focused on defense as Higuain's creative influence was clearly missed.
Columbus's best chance came in the 80th minute, when Oduro broke through the Seattle defense, outran the last defender and cut to his left past goalkeeper Michael Gspurning. With a nearly open net, Oduro's shot was too close to the 'keeper, and Gspurning got a finger on the attempt, pushing it wide to secure the victory for the Sounders.
With the win, Seattle improves to 43 points on the season, good enough for second place in the Western Conference with four games in hand on leaders Real Salt Lake. Columbus stays in eighth place in the East with 29 points, eight back of fifth-place New England.