After 363 minutes without a goal in MLS play, Seattle Sounders FC finally found the breakthrough against D.C. United on Saturday night as Nicolas Lodeiro scored in his first game back from injury and international duty to bring his side level in the 57th minute.
Five minutes later Magnus Wolff Eikrem would give Seattle a second as the CenturyLink Field crowd erupted with a cathartic roar that echoed through the building as Sounders took their first lead in exactly a month.
The two goals would be enough for Seattle to secure three points on the night and move them up to 10th in the West but more importantly showcased the Sounders ability to play positive, attacking football.
Contrary to the matches against Real Salt Lake, Seattle was able to out-possess their opponents and connect passes in the final third. Compared to the 60% and 58% against RSL, Sounders completed 77% of their passes in the attacking third on Saturday.
Having Lodeiro back is definitely a big boost to the team as Sounders are at their best when play runs through the Uruguayan midfielder. Lodeiro led all players in touches and total passes with 105 and 84 respectively while completing a staggering 93% of those passes. It’s also a benefit when that same player can hit a half-volley from the top of the box perfectly into the bottom corner of the goal to end the clubs longest goalless drought (also 363 minutes from July 3rd to August 9th in 2015).
There’s also some concerns to be had with Seattle’s continued injury woes as Kelvin Leerdam had to be subbed out making it eight straight matches (including the 2-1 loss in the U.S. Open Cup in Sacramento) where coach Brian Schmetzer has been forced to use a sub due to an injury.
The silver lining to the Leerdam substitution was that Cristian Roldan played extremely well filling in at right back, eventually assisting on the game winner from Eikrem, the man who replaced Leerdam on the field. Brian Schmetzer complimented Roldan on his work rate and his ability to push up the field but then quickly get back to defend when possession was lost.
Although it was a much better performance from Seattle than of late, it was against a D.C. team that currently sits at the bottom of the Eastern Conference with just two wins and 9 points.
The real test comes on Wednesday when Sounders make a cross-continent trip to face New York Red Bulls who are 4-1-1 at home so far and have a Eastern Conference best +13 goal differential. Seattle will need another strong performance on short rest from the likes of Lodeiro, Roldan, Clint Dempsey, and Osvaldo Alonso if they plan to leave Red Bull Arena with a result.