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A View From the Upper Deck a DC United vs Seattle Sounders Game Review


Like most United matches this season, the Black & Red started strong. They were in the front foot, and looking to put Seattle down quickly. Their press was lively, they were getting chances, even Jacob Murrell who was getting his first MLS start made Seattle’s goalkeeper make a couple saves.

It was a shock for DC fans to be behind in the 14th minute, because prior to that, United had been controlling the game. When Leo Chu headed a goal past Alex Bono, off of a Jordan Morris cross, it momentarily silenced the boisterous crowd. It was a beautiful goal, but the real issue was DC United could not clear the ball, despite making a number of individual defensive plays. This would be an issue throughout the second half, 

This game felt a bit like the 2024 season so far in microcosm. DC United started strong, and created opportunities, but the inability for the Black & Red to turn chances into goals left United hanging on in a nail biter right until the final whistle

First Half

The Black & Red started strong, with the tenacious energy and enthusiasm which has become the hallmark of Troy Lesesne’s DC United. The team was on the front foot, and their press was doing an excellent job pinning the Sounders in their half.

The press started to create scoring opportunities, the 

first of  which was created by Mateusz Klich, who drew a free kick from about 20 yards out. Aaron Herrera took the shot and was just wide of the post.

Seattle absorbed the pressure, kept a good defensive shape, and looked to take a page from Orlando’s playbook two weeks ago. They waited for the opportunity to catch the Black & Red’s defenders to far up field and hit a fast counter. When the opportunity came the Sounders capitalized. Quick passing down the right wing between Josh Atencio, Danny Musovski and Jordan Morris sprung the Morris into space where he spotted Albert Rusnak for a cutback at the top of the box. Rusnak's initial shot was blocked by McVey, but United was unable to properly clear the Sounders did well to keep the play alive as Atencio got a blocked shot and eventually the ball found its way back to Morris who found Léo Chú with a cross and Chú put it 

After Seattle’s goal, things swung back in the Black & Red’s favor.

The first real opportunity came when Jacob Murrell, making his first start for DC United, took an open header at the six-yard box off of a cross from Aaron Herrera, but he put it over the bar. This would not be the last time Murrell made himself available for a dangerous scoring opportunity. Just a few minutes later Stefan Frei had to come up with a big save, to again deny Muller his first goal, when the 19-year old put a one-time shot from near the penalty spot.

With Seattle playing a deep defensive shape, looking to counter, United was having difficulty breaking down the Sounders. It wasn’t until the 28th minute when Jared Stroud did an incredible job controlling a beautiful long pass that McVey lobbed over defense. If Stroud had scored, the pass from McVey would have been up for assist of the week, and probably for the season, it was that good. Seriously, check it out. 

In trying to stop a goal, Seattle defender Cody Baker most likely fouled Stroud who was behind him. He desperately tried to throw Stroud off balance as he clattered into the back of his legs. Stroud was able to keep his feet and the ball, and tapped it past Stefan Frei, the Seattle Goalkeeper, who in a last desperate move swept Stroud off his feet with his right hand.

The referee was decisive in calling for a penalty, and showing Frei a red card. After a lengthy VAR review that was way too long, the penalty was upheld and Christian Benteke stepped up to the penalty spot where he smashed the ball into the top left corner past newly installed goalkeeper Andrew Thomas.

 And with that the game was tied.

As the first half wound down, the Black & Red kept up the pressure, and created a couple of real chances. A reflex save again kept Jacob Murrell from scoring, but it was a good sign that United was creating chances.

It was in stoppage time that Benteke would pop up again with a towering header over the back of Cristian Roldan that flew over Thomas and put the Black & Red in front. 

Score at the first half whistle - DC United 2 - Seattle Sounders 1

Second Half

The second half was not a good outing for DC United. Seattle was more aggressive and better at the press. They made some changes to their formation and made it difficult for United to get any control, despite playing a man up. Throughout the second 45 minutes, the Sounder’s pushed hard in for the equalizer, creating plenty of chances throughout. Only some amazing saves by Alex Bono and the right post kept Seattle from equalizing.

It was not that United wasn’t threatening, they did create chances. At one point United had a dangerous push up the right, in a similar spot from which Herrera had assisted Benteke’s second goal. However this time, Obed Vargas was called for a handball when he blocked the cross at the edge of the box. This set up another dangerous free kick for United. The free kick reached Benteke but his acrobatic shot went wide.

Not long later, Seattle almost tied the game when Josh Atencio placed a great header off a free kick right in front of goal. It went past a diving Bono, but ricocheted off the post.

The Black & Red were hanging on by their fingernails as the Sounders kept up the pressure. Another set piece was perfectly passed to Josh Atencio, who put it on goal this time but Bono came up with one of his many saves.

Albert Rusnak and Cristian Roldan seemed to effortlessly put United under pressure by themselves. They seemed to be everywhere. Rusnak was close with a header and Bono once again made a reflex save. Then Roldan had a golden chance at the top of the six-yard box on a feed from Vargas, but he couldn’t make good contact and the ball was easily collected by Bono.

It was tight, and Seattle may have felt they were due better, but the Black & Red were able to get the win and end their winless streak.

Full Time 

DC United 2 - Seattle Sounders 1

Man of the Match: Alex Bono

Understand why many would give this to Benteke, as he scored a brace, and keeps his name in the race for the Golden Boot, but the Black & Red earned this victory thanks to the incredible saves that Bono made while under constant pressure from Seattle.

Up Next: Back home at Audi Field to play the Philadelphia Union.

Written by: RJ Rolsen 


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