D.C. United's final trip to the Pacific Northwest this season was a night to forgot, as the Supporters' Shield leaders fell to a late Tyrone Mears goal in a 1-0 loss to the Seattle Sounders. After playing with just ten men for much of the match after Fabian Espindola saw red, United were minutes away from escaping Seattle with a point, before Mears took all three points for the Rave Green.
United's meeting with Seattle came at a great time, with the Sounders missing Clint Dempsey, Brad Evans, and Marco Pappa due to international duty, with Obafemi Martins still out with injury. But Luis Silva was lost early to a groin injury, and coupled with Espindola's red, the combination drained much of D.C.'s hope for three points before 30 minutes were gone.
Lamar Neagle had an early chance for Seattle, as he got on to the end of a ball that was beyond United's back line. Neagle moved into the box, before rifling a shot off the post. The resulting throw in was delayed though, as Silva was down on the ground, and before the clock struck 5 minutes, he had to come off with a groin injury, with Conor Doyle coming on to replace him.
Cristian Roldan then played a perfectly weighted ball out wide for fellow midfielder Thomas, but the Brazilian wasted the effort from a good spot, rolling a shot right at Andrew Dykstra.
United applied some high pressure in order to earn some possession, and the effort turned into a couple of chances going forward. Perry Kitchen had a shot from range that was wide of the goal, before Doyle had a well hit shot from Espindola's corner blocked before Stefan Frei could make a save.
The pressure then forced a bad turnover moments later, but Nick DeLeon's shot from outside of the box was easily held by Frei.
Chad Barrett, filling in for Dempsey and Martins, was the recipient of a neat move from Seattle, as Thomas and Gonzalo Pineda combined to create a chance in the 24th minute. Barrett received the ball outside of the box, and aimed a shot that was held by Dysktra.
Three minutes later Espindola saw red, the first time a player has seen their marching orders in any competition for United this season. Earlier in the match, Espindola had been knocked in the back of the head by Zach Scott, who received a yellow card for his troubles. But as Espindola and Scott battled for a ball, Espindola seemed to have revenge on his mind, as he swung his arm at Scott, resulting in the straight red.
The Black-and-Red did well to manage the rest of the half playing down a man, preventing any genuine scoring opportunities for the Sounders. Neagle did have a chance go close following a deflection from Bobby Boswell, but the shot went just wide, and United dealt with the following two corners to end the half.
Sounders unsurprisingly had the majority of the chances in the second half, given their man advantage, but did little to make the most of them. A quick switch of play from right to left ended with Thomas receiving the ball in the box, but his shot was wide of the goal, though Dysktra got a had to it despite being ruled a goal kick.
Barrett beat Boswell to a header in the 53rd minute from a Mears cross, but the striker was put off by the presence of Boswell, and the header fell onto the top of the net, with Dysktra primed to make a save.
Doyle then received a yellow and conceded a free kick from a dangerous spot as he took down a streaking Neagle in the 58th minute. The free kick was correctly given just outside the box despite protests for a penalty kick, and Neagle's effort hit the side netting.
Chris Korb won United their own dangerous free kick in the 68th minute, as his run deep in Seattle's half was stopped by a tackle from Thomas. Taylor Kemp, who had spent most of the game sending long free kicks into the box, found the cross bar with his effort from 25 yards out, just missing out on giving United the lead.
Thomas and Neagle, Seattle's most dangerous threats going forward, combined for another chance moments later. Thomas' dinked a pass into the box for Neagle, but the striker's shot on the half volley was weakly hit, and right at Dykstra, who easily held.
Chris Rolfe, who had solid shift without much end product, was removed by Ben Olsen for Jairo Arrieta, who carved out a chance to score almost immediately after entering the match. Collecting a pass from Korb, Arrieta turned on Scott, and cut inside of Chad Marshall, before lashing a shot from the top of the box well over the goal.
United seemed on course to hold on to the valuable road point, only to be undone by Mears in the closing stages of the game. A cross into the box wasn't completely dealt with by United, and the ball bounced out to Mears near the corner of the box. With only a sight for goal, Mears one-timed a laser home for the decisive goal in the 88th minute.
DeLeon had one final chance, but his effort met the same fate as Kemp's free kick. Kemp served in a free kick that was poorly dealt with by Seattle, with DeLeon picking up the loose ball. A quick cut back towards the middle of the box opened up some shooting space for the midfielder, but his shot grazed the crossbar as it flew over the goal.
United (10-6-5) have a week off before heading to Texas for a game against FC Dallas on July 18.