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D.C. United once again throw away lead against Seattle Sounders, lose 2-1

Darren Mattocks put the visitors on top in the second half, but the Black-and-Red leave pointless in Seattle

It was not quite as dramatic as last year’s affair, but D.C. United failed again to maintain a second half lead against the Seattle Sounders, falling 2-1 to the Rave Green on Saturday night. Darren Mattocks put the Black-and-Red ahead in the second half with his team-leading 6th goal of the season. However, that lead lasted just four minutes, as Nicolas Lodeiro equalized on his return.

Substitute Magnus Wolff Eikrem was all alone in the box to head home the winner in the 83rd minute, as United continued a rough history at CenturyLink Field. Their only win came back in 2010, and the only other point came from a draw in 2012.

After a midweek clash in the U.S. Open Cup, head coach Ben Olsen went with an unsurprising starting lineup. David Ousted got the start in goal, with Steve Birnbaum, Frederic Brillant, Joseph Mora, and Oniel Fisher in defense. Junior Moreno got the nod over Chris Durkin in midfield, with Luciano Acosta, Paul Arriola, Yamil Asad, and Zoltan Stieber rounding out the midfield. The team’s leading scorer, Darren Mattocks, got the start up top.

In last year’s visit to Seattle, United raced out to a three-goal lead early in the second half, only to manage to lose 4-3. It was the first time an MLS team had ever had won a game while trailing by three goals.

Having not played a league game in 14 days, but fresh off 120 minutes in the U.S Open Cup on Tuesday, United got off to a sluggish start on the West Coast. An early look from Clint Dempsey bounced wide of the mark in the 2nd minute, with the American forward then heading gently into the hands of Ousted from a corner in the 13th minute.

United’s first opportunity came in the 16th minute, as Mattocks challenged Stefan Frei for a ball, which had been deflected on Fisher’s cross. The ball fell kindly to Arriola in the box, but the midfielder couldn’t connect cleanly with a shot, and his effort bounced harmlessly wide of the mark.

Ousted was tested again by Dempsey in the 22nd minute. Dempsey’s awkward backheel found its way to Kevin Leerdam, who centered the ball. United couldn’t deal, and the ball fell to Dempsey, who tried to beat Ousted with another backheel, but the keeper had raced off his line to make the save.

Mattocks had a look in the 27th minute, after a pass from Asad found its way through the Seattle backline. The ball took Mattocks just a bit wide of where he wanted to go, and with defenders blocking his passing options, Mattocks cut back and fired a left footed shot that was saved by Frei.

The best chance for either side in the first half came to Mattocks in the 35th minute. United did well to break a press from the Sounders, and they quickly got the ball into the attacking half. After connecting several passes, Fisher delivered a cross into the box, where Mattocks out-jumped two defenders, but put his header wide of the goal.

United came out stronger in the second half, as Arriola and Asad exchanged passes to set up an opportunity for Stieber. The Hungarian international got into the box, but had his left-footed shot saved by Frei, who did well to knock the ball away from danger.

Stieber’s excellent 53rd minute service was the genesis of Mattocks’ 6th goal of the season. Collecting a pass from Asad, Stieber laced a cross into the box, where Arriola won a header, but was denied by a fantastic save from Frei. However, Mattocks was quickest to the rebound, and he stabbed a shot home for the 1-0 lead.

United couldn’t last five minutes with a lead. A 57th minute long throw-in from the right by Leerdam was headed out by Asad, but the ball fell right into the path of Lodeiro, alone at the top of the box. The Uruguayan international did not need an invitation, and smacked the ball first time through traffic, with the ball eluding Ousted on the way into the goal.

Asad hit a shot over in the 62nd minute, but the tide quickly turned in favor of the hosts. Eikram came on for an injured Leerdam in the 69th minute, as the Sounders started to get numbers forward, finding space that was not available to them earlier in the game. But several close calls didn’t result in goals, as United seemed to ride a bit of luck for a stretch.

But when United got numbers forward for a corner late, disaster struck. Frei made the catch on the corner, and quickly threw the ball out the other way. United struggled to get back defensively, and when the ball went out wide right to Christian Roldan, there was no one around to close him down. And no one had tracked the run of Wolff Eikrem, and so when Roldan’s cross found it’s way to the penalty spot, Wolff Eikrem was free to power a header home for what turned out to be the game winner.

Olsen then made his only change of the game, bringing in Bruno Miranda for Mora in the 85th minute. As United got numbers forward, opportunities opened up for Seattle, though they were never able to take advantage. In fact, Acosta came close to an equalizer in the 89th minute, as his well-struck shot from outside the box was goalbound, until an intervention from Frei denied United an equalizer.

Ousted got up late in the box for a free kick, but it was for naught as the Black-and-Red lost for the first time in three league games.

With 9 points from 11 games, United are back on the road on Wednesday, as they travel to Canada to take on Toronto FC, a game that was originally scheduled for April 7th.