D.C. United couldn't take advantage of a weakened Seattle Sounders side at home on Wednesday night, falling 2-0 to the Western Conference side thanks to goals from Jordan Morris and Joevin Jones. After an action packed first half finished scoreless, it was the Sounders who found the break through in the second half, scoring twice in a four-minute span to hand United their sixth loss of the season.
United, looking to win consecutive games for the first time on the season, fielded an unchanged side from the team that escaped with a 1-0 win over Sporting Kansas City. Unfortunately, United failed to take advantage of their chances in the first half, and then couldn't haul themselves back into the game after conceding Morris' fifth goal of the season.
The Sounders were without forwards Clint Dempsey and Nelson Valdez, both away on international duty for the upcoming Copa America. And in the back, Chad Marshall was absent with a hamstring strain, with Zach Scott partnering Brad Evans as the second center back.
Five days after the win on the road against SKC, United were slow to get into the game, as Morris found openings early in the game. Within seconds of kick off, Morris was racing into the box to get onto a long ball, but was bodied off the ball by center back Kofi Opare, who filled in once again for Steve Birnbaum, who is on international duty.
Speedy right back Tyrone Mears got the ball in space on the right hand side in the 2nd minute, and quickly fired a cross in looking for Morris. Opare was again perfectly placed to cut the chance out, touching the ball back to keeper Bill Hamid to clear the danger in front of goal.
Lamar Neagle came close to opening the scoring in the 4th minute, just missing with a header against his former club. Luciano Acosta forced a turnover in the Seattle half, and quickly played a pass out to the right for Fabian Espindola. Espindola's cross was to the near post where Neagle was able to win the header, but put the effort wide of the goal.
Acosta forced another turnover five minutes later to again set up his fellow Argentine. United briefly had a two-on-one going forward, but after Espindola collected the pass from Acosta, he settled for a shot from outside of the box that skipped harmlessly wide of Stefan Frei's goal.
At the other end, Cristian Roldan had Hamid beat in the 15th minute, but the midfielder's effort was just off target. Getting onto a pass in the box from Erik Friberg, Roldan's snap shot got past the diving Hamid, and bounced just wide of the far post, letting United escape further danger with numbers in the box waiting to pounce for Seattle.
Morris and Opare were back battling again in the 24th minute, as Morris raced to get onto a bouncing ball in the box from Friberg. With Opare draped all over him, the US striker got a shot on target, but the sharp angle meant a routine save for Hamid.
In the 27th minute Opare almost put United in the lead, but a header from a corner was saved off the line by Dylan Remick's arm. Opare rose up highest to win Espindola's inswinging corner, and with Frei out of goal challenging for the ball, the header bounced towards goal. The ball deflected off of Remick's arm before going wide of goal. Both teams protested portions of the play - the Sounders felt Frei was fouled - but referee Jose Carlos Rivero ignored all complaints, instead giving United another corner kick.
Taylor Kemp then found Jared Jeffrey with a cross at the back post in the 29th minute, but the center midfielder failed to guide his header on target. Espindola test Frei from long range a minute later, with the former Toronto FC keeper diving to his left to make the save.
In quick succession in the 38th minute, the Sounders had two opportunities to get ahead, only to be denied by a goal line clearance and the woodwork. Morris was again chasing down a long ball in the box after Kemp didn't join the rest of the defense in an offside trap, and Seattle's young star got a shot off. Hamid slowed the shot, but it still had enough power to get over the line. Kemp recovered, though, and managed to clear the goal-bound shot away.
That clearance attempt wasn't the best, though, as Kemp fired the ball low and up the middle. Andreas Ivanschitz corralled the loose ball just outside the box and fired. Hamid was beat at full stretch, but the ball smacked the upper corner of the woodwork before going out for a goal kick.
After an eventful first half, the second half was almost the complete antithesis as both teams tightened up defensively to limit each other in front of goal. Morris worked himself an opening in the 53rd minute, but his shot from the top of the box was deflected harmlessly into the arms of Hamid.
The Black-and-Red could only half-clear a free kick in the 57th minute, as the ball rolled out to Osvaldo Alonso at the top of the box. The Cuban midfielder didn't need an invitation to shoot, but his perfectly-struck rocket was palmed away by Hamid - who saw the ferocious shot late - allowing United to clear the danger.
A rare opportunity arose for United in the 60th minute as Acosta played up towards Espindola, who just stayed onside at the midfield stripe. Espindola was able to chase the ball down and played back towards Acosta in the middle of the field, but United's little wizard was dispossessed waiting for reinforcements to arrive. Ten minutes later, Acosta was quickest to react to a poor pass near Seattle's box, but once again the Argentine failed to guide his shot on target.
Both managers then made subs in an attempt to change the course of the game, but it was Sigi Schmid's change on the left that made the ultimate difference. Bringing in Jones for Ivanschitz was the game breaker, as the former Chicago Fire man helped create the first goal minutes after coming on.
Playing a give and go with Morris, Jones found himself in the box with space to shoot. His shot from the left was saved by Hamid, but United failed to clear the ball, allowing Morris to collect, and fire home in the 79th minute, as Hamid scrambled to get back into position.
Olsen then brought on Alhaji Kamara in hopes of some magic similar to last Friday, but four minutes later the Sounders killed the game off. A turnover deep in the midfield from Marcelo Sarvas gifted Alonso the ball, allowing the Cuban to quickly play Jones through a channel. Jones made his way towards goal, before clipping a delicate shot over Hamid for the 2-0 advantage.
Jeffrey had one last chance for United in the final minute of regulation time, but his lunging effort from substitute Miguel Aguilar's cross was off the mark.
United now have a two week break in action, before playing the Fort Lauderdale Strikers at the Maryland SoccerPlex in the US Open Cup.