SEATTLE — Two of MLS’s hottest teams traded blows in a wildly entertaining bout Saturday.
Goals were flying back and forth between Sounders FC and FC Dallas in front of 38,979 at CenturyLink Field, as Seattle took an early two-goal lead, saw it slip away in the second half and then rallied for a 4-2 win behind forwards Eddie Johnson and Obafemi Martins.
“It was a crazy soccer night — a good, awesome soccer night,” said goalkeeper Michael Gspurning. “A great victory again, and a great sign to the league that we are back in business.”
Seattle (4-3-3) handed league-leading Dallas its first loss since March 10, ending the visitors’ nine-game unbeaten run, and also extended its streak to six games without a loss after its last-place start.
The Sounders continued their dominance in the series, improving to 5-1-4, including wins in four of the last five games.
“We wouldn’t be where we are right now if we didn’t want to play the best and be the best,” said Johnson. “We couldn’t have asked for a better team, who’s been hot all year, to come here and really challenge us as a team and see where we are. Tonight we showed our true character.”
FC Dallas (7-2-3) was down to 10 men for the final 22 minutes of the game after forward Blas Perez was controversially ejected for an errant elbow to the face of Seattle’s Leo Gonzalez, who left the game bloodied.
Coach Sigi Schmid said Gonzalez’ face was evidence enough that the red card was justified, and the decision by referee Mark Geiger put an end to Dallas’ comeback spirit.
Trailing 2-0 at halftime, the visitors cut Seattle’s lead to 2-1 in the 54th minute when forward Kenny Cooper finished a cross from midfielder Michel. It was the first goal allowed by the Sounders in 272 minutes, the fifth-longest shutout streak in MLS this season.
Dallas tied the game in improbable fashion seven minutes later, when Michel scored a likely Goal of the Year candidate, bending a left-footed corner kick directly into the goal.
Seattle quickly answered, though, as Johnson collected a pass from forward partner Lamar Neagle in the 63rd minute, rounded goalkeeper Raul Fernandez and fired home the winner for his second goal of the game and team-high fourth of the season.
Martins capped the win with a rebound chance in the 83rd minute, his third goal in as many games.
Along with the Sounders’ 4-0 win over San Jose last week, the eight goals in back-to-back games matched a team record; 11 shots on goals were a new franchise best.
“I’m not going to say (it has come) easy, because we’ve worked hard for it,” Martins said. “It’s a good win, and we hope to continue like this, because we have a long ways to go.”
Seattle raced to a 2-0 lead in the first half off goals by Johnson and Neagle, who got behind the Dallas defense in the 16th and 30th minutes, respectively. The first-half goals were the two earliest allowed this season by Dallas, which hadn’t trailed at halftime in any of its first 11 games.
The Sounders are on a 29-0-8 streak when scoring the game’s first goal dating to the end of 2010 — the longest active unbeaten streak in MLS.
Would they call it a statement victory?
“No,” said midfielder Brad Evans.
“For us, it’s just another win under our belt. We’re still trying to get to where we want to be, and we’re not there yet.”