For the second time in eight days, the Seattle Sounders used a second-half stoppage-time goal to elevate the team to victory. Last Saturday, Kelvin Leerdam sent CenturyLink Field into a frenzy with the club's 1-0 win over Vancouver. This week, Nicolas Lodeiro silenced Mapfre Stadium in Columbus to beat the Crew, 2-1.
Despite a full-half full of struggles as Lodeiro returned from International Duty with Uruguay, Victor Rodriguez started on the left wing for the first time in almost two months, and Roman Torres made his first start in roughly a month, the squad fought to victory in the final 45, plus nine added minutes.
Lodeiro earned, then hit, a penalty kick in the 56th to equalize the match after an early Columbus penalty in the first half. Brian Schmetzer made his three substitutes with Harry Shipp, Saad Abdul-Salaam and Justin Dhillon, then both teams pushed for three points in the closing seconds. A long throw in from Abdul-Salaam reached Dhillon and the head of a Crew defender, who sent it onward to Lodeiro's head and the eventual winner.
The victory keeps the Sounders on-pace with the Los Angeles Galaxy, who won Thursday to reach 34 points on the season. Saturday's win puts Seattle at 32 points, good for third place in the MLS Western Conference. LAFC is ahead of both teams with 43 points.
Up next is Atlanta United, at CenturyLink Field next Sunday, who have seen a roller-coaster year at 9-7-2 on the season including a 4-4 record in their last eight games, entering the weekend. Atlanta faces the New York Red Bulls on Sunday before preparing to face Seattle next week. The Sounders, meanwhile, will see the return of three key starters, still away on International Duty.
Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan will feature with the United States Men's National Team as they take on Mexico on Sunday in the Gold Cup final. On the same day, Raul Ruidiaz, still with Peru, faces Brazil in the COPA America final.
If Lodeiro's form in Saturday's win is any indication of what players returning from International Duty can do, the returns of Morris, Roldan and Ruidiaz should bring Seattle success against Atlanta and in the weeks to come, where the club has five of the next six matches across all competitions at the friendly confines of CenturyLink, which recently received a new turf installation.
Check out highlights from the Sounders' 2-1 win on Saturday below as well as Sports Radio 950 KJR's Postgame Show reacting to and discussing the match in-detail with Jackson Felts and James Riley.