D.C. United was good, but not good enough. Back from the World Cup break, United was threatening against Seattle and even dominated in several statistical categories. It didn’t prevent the Sounders from escaping with a 1-0 win to deliver United its first loss at home since the opening week of the season.
It was a match that offered proof positive that soccer is not a game of numbers. United had a demonstrative 65.9 to 34.1 percent advantage in possession. In passing accuracy and attempts on goal United was also the better team, but the Sounders showed their quality when Gonzalo Pineda linked up with Chad Barrett for the game’s only goal.
The Sounders’ goal occured in the 39th minute and it happened right after one of the Sounders nine corner kicks. United was able to clear the corner, but Pineda was able to deliver the always dangerous second ball in from 25 yards out on the right flank and he placed it perfectly on Barrett’s forehead for the clinical finish.
Bobby Boswell: “I just thought we kind of knew it was going to be one of those, if we can score the early goal we can control the pace of the game. And, unfortunately, they scored the first goal. It was just one of those nights where it wouldn’t go in. I thought we took the game to them for a good stretch of it, but anytime we play at home we play to win. And to lose, in my opinion, is a bit unacceptable and we kind of thought that.”
1. Eddie Johnson had his best game. I know he is paid to score. Still as United embarked on its five to six week stretch without the injured Fabian Espindola, Johnson brought the proper response. He was active from the start and in the first half hour delivered two early crosses from inside the penalty area that begged for a finish. Johnson’s runs gave the Sounders defense cause for concern all night, but despite all the promise the right connection was never made.
2. Steve Birnbaum continues to be the real deal. Drafted number two overall in this past January’s SuperDraft, Birnbaum has been flawless. In his third consecutive start for the injured Jeff Parke, Birnbaum has demonstrated a tactical awareness beyond his years. Whether it is tracking late runs by players on set pieces or locking the middle of United’s defense, Birnbaum does it all. He even threatened on two corners with headed balls, but failed to hit the frame.