At the end of their three-match road trip, the Seattle Sounders took aim at the Supporters Shield leading Atlanta United, on the road at Mercedes Benz Stadium. With 40 points and 42 goals, including MLS leader Josef Martinez, who came into the match with 18 goals on season, seven more than the next highest player in the league, Atlanta stood as the heavy favorite in Sunday's contest.
Factor in Clint Dempsey and Roman Torres staying back in Seattle due to injuries, Kelvin Leerdam starting on the bench while recovering from a hamstring strain, and neither Gustav Svensson, returning from the World Cup, nor Raul Ruidiaz, Seattle's new Designated Player, ready to start yet, odds fell further in favor of the home squad.
And yet, despite all of this, the Seattle Sounders took a first half lead and held on for a 1-1 draw on Sunday afternoon. Watch highlights from the match below.
In a first half littered with fouls and yellow cards, the opening 45 minutes concluded with referee Baldomero Toledo awarding Seattle a penalty kick due to an Atlanta hand-ball inside the 18-yard box. Nico Lodeiro stepped up and hit from the spot to give Seattle a 1-0 lead.
Lodeiro's goal was his second of the year in MLS play and the Sounders' first penalty kick of the season.
Early in the second half, Atlanta midfielder Julian Gressel lofted a ball into the box for forward Josef Martinez, who shouldered it above Stefan Frei and into the net, equalizing the match and scoring his 19th goal of the year.
Jordan McCrary saw his second yellow card of the match in 63rd minute, leaving the Sounders with 10 men for the final 37 minutes, plus seven minutes of stoppage time. Brian Schmetzer combated the issue with defensive substitutes throughout the second half: Kelvin Leerdam for Harry Shipp, Gustav Svensson for Chad Marshall, and Osvaldo Alonso for Victor Rodriguez.
Leerdam made his first appearance since June 9, when he injured his right hamstring against D.C. United. Svensson returned to the team as well for his first action since joining Sweden at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Seattle's Man of the Match Stefan Frei finished the game with six saves, most of which came in the final 37 minutes plus stoppage time.
Facing an endless barrage of attacks in the closing minutes, the Sounders' defense and Frei held firm, keeping Atlanta from scoring. The 1-1 draw and point for Seattle gives the club 17 on the season and 11 points behind sixth place Los Angeles at the red line. Next up for Seattle is eighth place Vancouver with 26 points on the season so far.
Seattle takes on the Whitecaps at CenturyLink Field next Saturday, July 21st, at 1:00 p.m. New Designated Player Raul Ruidiaz, who sat on the bench in Sunday's draw, will likely make his debut in Rave Green next week as well.
Listen to 950 KJR's Sounders FC Postgame Show with Jackson Felts and James Riley below.