Western Conference leaders Seattle Sounders took on the New York Red Bulls at their home stadium of CenturyLink Field in Seattle, as both teams looked to continue their successful seasons so far. This marked the tenth meeting between the two sides, sharing three wins, three draws and three losses each in the nine before.
Seattle’s front two had 13 goals between them going into this one, so Dempsey and Martins were hungry for more. Dempsey was the first one to get a shot off, with a minute on the clock, but it went harmlessly high and wide.
Red Bulls were looking to score, having gone the last two games without finding the net. Wright-Phillips had netted a hat-trick the last time these two sides met, back in September last season. Lloyd Sam produced a mazy run through the Seattle defense but was unable to get the ball into Wright-Phillips properly.
Moments later, Luis Robles made a terrific one-handed save from a Marco Pappa free kick, with the ball looking like it was certain to hit the back of the net having met the head of Christian Roldan. The free-kick was won after a foul by Damien Perrinelle on Obafemi Martins.
Despite a number of Red Bull attacks, the Sounders defense was strong and dictated play as they set off on a number of counter-attacks, with play switching back and forth between the two sides. The Red Bulls did play a high-line which although a risky strategy did appear to be working.
Lloyd Sam headed the Red Bulls in front after 35′ minutes, from a Bradley Wright-Phillips free kick that was deflected slightly but could not be cleared by a panicking Seattle defense. That was Sam’s fourth of the season and ended the clean sheet streak that Seattle had been building up.
The second half began in a similar manner. New York were denied a penalty, as Wright-Phillips was brought down in the area by Brad Evan. However he, and the referee, saw nothing wrong with the challenge. Lloyd Sam found himself in the book on the hour mark after a shoulder barge, but the ensuing free-kick was dealt with by the Red Bulls defence and saw a counter-attack expertly parried away by Frei in the Sounders goal after a looping effort from Mike Grella. Both goalkeepers were in fine form.
Seattle tried to find an equalizer, using Pappa and Alonso to try and feed Martins and Dempsey in but to no avail. This meant the Red Bulls could soak up the pressure and then press themselves, much like Seattle had tried to do in the first half. Lamar Neagle was substituted on after a disappointing afternoon for young Christian Raldan.
There were an increasing number of fouls in the second half, which stopped the flow of the game and really prevented any clear-cut chances to materialize. Sam continued to get involves, a searching ball was played in across the ground that Frei managed to deal with just as Sam got to it in the box. The Red Bulls were clearly confident they could come away with the three points.
However, a moment of brilliance from Marco Pappa had the Sounders right back in it. Robles was not able to get to it, a powerful shot smashed in that looped above Robles. With 20 minutes still to go, could that goal inspire the home side to get another?
It certainly inspired the Red Bulls to have another go, but both teams were locked in a pretty much equal battle with misplaced passes being made by both teams as fatigue and pressure set in. Martins went close as he managed to keep the ball on the field, as it looked like it had gone off. He won a corner that found its way to Tyrone Mears who put Clint Dempsey in, but he could not make it happen despite getting two attempts. Robles later held onto a cross put in for Neagle, and set the Red Bulls back on the offense.
Playing for 90
With ten to go, Felipe swung in a corner for New York that was easily dealt with by Alonso. Neither team looked likely to get a winner, the game had slowed down again. Dempsey had a shot that went well over the bar, although that was quickly forgotten as a hefty challenge on Felipe by Alonso had the referee surrounded, by no action was taken. Another strong tackle was made by Perrinelle, who was already on a yellow but the home fans were calling for red. Nothing was given.
The last ten can be summed up in questionable tackles and wasted long balls by both sides. Out of nowhere, Dempsey had scored the winner in added time, from a great ball in by Tyrone Mears. Dempsey had been working hard all night despite having very few chances. He made this one count. The Sounders had snatched victory right at the end.
Seattle head to Sporting Kansas City for their next game, while New York take on Houston Dynamo.
FINAL SCORE: Seattle Sounders (Pappa 70′, Dempsey 90+1) 2 -1 New York Red Bulls (Sam 35′)