United bested by Seattle again, falls 2-1

WASHINGTON -- D.C. United suffered a gutwrenching case of deja vu at RFK Stadium on Saturday night, falling to a 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Seattle Sounders FC for the second time in two weeks as Sounders striker Fredy Montero produced a sublime matchwinner in the late going. Ten days ago United were robbed of their U.S. Open Cup title by an inspired performance from the Rave Green, though Saturday's setback may sting even more sharply as it not only crushed their hopes for revenge but also landed a damaging blow to their playoff prospects at a pivotal moment in the season. Arrayed in a 4-4-2 shape anchored by a central midfield partnership of Ben Olsen and Rodney Wallace, United surged out of the gates with several promising possessions in the opening moments. But the visitors killed that early momentum in the fifth minute with a dagger of a goal off the foot of Steve Zakuani. The rookie winger's battle with D.C. right back Bryan Namoff had been one of the most intriguing matchups in the U.S. Open Cup final on Sept. 2 and while Zakuani had largely been unable to exploit his speed advantage on that occasion, he used it to full effect this time. A perceptive through ball from Pete Vagenas released his pacey teammate behind Namoff and Zakuani did even better with the final touch, slotting a cool finish between the legs of Josh Wicks as the United goalkeeper raced off his line - and in a flash, Sounders FC owned a 1-0 lead.United was gifted a decent chance in the 10th minute when a Santino Quaranta cross nicked the top of Patrick Ianniís head before caroming off James Riley's chest and falling right to striker Luciano Emilio inside the Seattle 6-yard box. But the Brazilian's poaching instincts let him down as he flicked his header well wide of goal. Seven minutes later, it was Fred's turn to spurn a good look as he ghosted in behind Leo Gonzalez to receive a long diagonal ball from Quaranta at the far post, only to be dispossessed by Kasey Keller before he could unleash a shot. The game settled into a study of contrasts as the half played out, with United owning plenty of possession that usually fizzled in the final third of the field while Seattle ventured forward judiciously, but looked dangerous almost every time. Eight minutes before the break, Wicks had to charge off his line to block at the feet of Sebastien Le Toux as the Frenchman surged into the box, and the loose ball was nearly drilled into an unguarded net by Montero only to skim a few inches over the crossbar. Both sides remained unchanged for the start of the second period and matters unfolded in similar fashion as the half began, only for the game to take another sudden turn in the 54th minute when Wallace roamed forward from his holding midfield spot to combine with Emilio.United's Costa Rican-born rookie had often struggled with his first touch up to that point. But when Emilio's turn towards goal was interrupted by Riley and the ball popped loose at the top of the Sounders FC box, he settled it immaculately and stepped forward to lash a shot into the top left corner to level the score - and breathe new life into the home supporters. Zakuani seemed to have strayed offside as he broke clear of the D.C. defense again in the 65th minute, but referee Silviu Petrescu allowed play to continue and it took another sliding intervention from Wicks to keep Seattleís left winger from doubling his goalscoring tally.Olsen had been finding his range with a series of speculative shots from distance and he finally drew a strong save from Keller in the 72nd minute, hammering a low drive that the Sounders netminder palmed wide of his left-hand post. Emilio was soon presented with two excellent chances to grab the lead for his team. First he shrugged off Riley in pursuit of Jaime Morenoís flick-on and broke in alone on Keller, only to dribble a soft effort right at the veteran netminder. Moments later he muscled past Jhon Kennedy Hurtado - losing a shoe in the process - but could not steer his first-touch shot inside the right-hand post as Keller came out to cut down the angle. Time continued to tick away and six minutes from full time, the Black-and-Red were punished cruelly for those misses when Montero materialized in the United box and produced a flash of attacking magic. D.C. boss Tom Soehn had just made a double substitution, bringing on midfielders Christian Gomez and Andrew Jacobson in place of Moreno and Olsen. But the crowd's loud ovation of their longest-serving veterans was cut short when Seattle's diminutive Colombian ran onto a pass from Riley, then used a subtle half-turn to zip a bullet of a shot just inside the near post, rippling the top corner of the net. The quick release and rising trajectory of the bid seemed to surprise Wicks, as he simply could not get his hands up quickly enough to make the save. His teammates and their vocal fans were left equally stunned by Montero's play, which proved too much to overcome. United huffed and puffed in vain for an equalizer in the dying moments, but could not head off their first home loss of the season in league play. Seattle Sounders FC (9-6-10) vs. D.C. United (8-6-12) September 12, 2009 -- RFK Stadium Scoring Summary: SEA -- Steve Zakuani 4 (Peter Vagenas 2) 5DC -- Rodney Wallace 3 (unassisted) 54SEA -- Fredy Montero 11 (James Riley 4) 84Seattle Sounders FC -- Kasey Keller, James Riley, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Patrick Ianni, Leo Gonzalez, Sebastien Le Toux, Osvaldo Alonso, Peter Vagenas (Brad Evans 62), Steve Zakuani (Tyrone Marshall 86), Nate Jaqua (Roger Levesque 77), Fredy Montero,Substitutes Not Used: Terry Boss, Zach Scott, Nathan Sturgis, Tyson WahlD.C. United -- Josh Wicks, Bryan Namoff, Julius James, Avery John, Fred (Chris Pontius 53), Ben Olsen (Andrew Jacobson 83), Clyde Simms, Rodney Wallace, Jaime Moreno (Christian Gomez 83), Santino Quaranta, Luciano Emilio,Substitutes Not Used: David Habarugira, Milos Kocic, Devon McTavish, Tiyiselani ShipalaneMisconduct Summary: DC -- Rodney Wallace (caution; Reckless Tackle) 57DC -- Santino Quaranta (caution; Simulation) 62DC -- Avery John (caution; Reckless Foul) 93+Referee: Silviu PetrescuReferee's Assistants: Kermit Quisenberry; Nate Clement4th official: Terry VaughnTime of game: 1:51Attendance: 19,592Weather: Cloudy -and- 70 degreesAll statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial