D.C. United heads west to face Seattle Sounders FC tonight at 10:00 p.m. ET (Comcast SportsNet). United hasn’t played in Seattle since 2011, a season that saw the Black-and-Red split its two games against the Western Conference side. All-time, D.C. is 2-3-2 against Sounders FC, with its best result coming in a 3-2 victory at CenturyLink Field in 2010.
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This season, Seattle has recovered from a poor start to go 6-2-2 in its last ten games and move into seventh place. With an overall record of 6-3-5, Sounders FC has played the fewest games of any MLS side and most recently lost at Real Salt Lake 2-0 on June 22. However, Seattle has one of the best home defensive records in the league and goalkeeper Michael Gspurning has picked up five clean sheets on the season. Up front, Seattle relies on a balanced attack of Obafemi Martins, Lamar Neagle and U.S. international Eddie Johnson—each player has four goals to lead the team.
After winning consecutive games for the first time this season, United dropped Saturday’s match against Vancouver despite controlling 60 percent of the possession and taking 23 shots. Camilo Sanvezzo scored the only goal of the game following a contentious penalty call against Bill Hamid early in the second half. Still, there were plenty of positives to carry into D.C.’s tour of the Western Conference, according to head coach Ben Olsen.
“Yeah, we didn’t score. In the final third, we have to be cleaner. But overall, I thought there was some good stuff – the way we played, the way we attacked, the way we moved the ball. We fell asleep a little bit on a play, but Bill [Hamid] bailed us out.”
Chris Pontius, who has scored twice in the last three games while starting at the forward position, also noted the team’s improved all-around performance but stressed the importance of finishing chances.
“[There were] plenty of opportunities. These are things that some nights they are clicking and you are going to put every chance away, and the other nights it seems like nothing is bouncing or falling your way. Definitely tonight was one of those nights. That is on us. We have to be a lot cleaner. You have to pick out a man in the box, then it has to be a clean finish.”
Pontius added that D.C.’s missed chances won’t affect his mentality as the team looks ahead to Wednesday’s game in Seattle.
“It happens in any sport. That doesn’t weigh on my mind. You have to have short-term memory on the field and go for the next one. It doesn’t weigh on my mind.”
The Black-and-Red will also be without Hamid, who was called up to the U.S. Men’s National Team for the CONCACAF Gold Cup and will miss games against Seattle, Colorado and Chivas de Guadalajara at the very least. On Wednesday, backup goalkeeper Joe Willis will take over the starting role, but he’s viewing the opportunity like any other game.
“I’m trying not to treat it any differently. I’m still just going out every day and working as hard as I can and trying not to make too much of it.”
D.C. United returns to RFK on Friday, July 12 to host Chivas de Guadalajara in an international friendly. BUY TICKETS.