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It sure would be nice if they would start playing like this earlier in the year, but the Seattle Sounders appear to be on what is becoming another trademark late-season run.
With their 3-1 win over New York City FC on Sunday, the Sounders pushed their unbeaten streak to six games (4-0-2) and have improved to 7-0-3 in their last two Julys. By beating NYCFC, who came into the match with the best points per game in the league, the Sounders also have their first win over a team in playoff position.
Who knows how this game goes if NYCFC score first? Through the first 35 minutes, NYCFC was the better team, and Maxi Moralez’s 22nd minute free kick nearly gave them an early 1-0 lead. Despite the ball beating Stefan Frei, it struck harmlessly off the crossbar.
The Sounders finally started to turn around the game around the 35th minute and shortly thereafter grabbed a lead they’d never relinquish. Kelvin Leerdam sent in a cross that deflected in the box to Cristian Roldan, whose first touch took him into space. Sean Johnson was able to get a hand on the close range shot, but not enough of one to keep it out.
The Sounders didn’t exactly carry that momentum into the second half, but that didn’t stop them from extending their lead to 2-0. Gustav Svensson’s 52nd minute shot from about 30 yards was the Sounders’ first attempt of the second half, but he hit it well enough to beat Johnson.
NYCFC turned up the pressure at that point, and although Raúl Ruidíaz nearly extended the Sounders’ lead to 3-0, it was the Pigeons who struck next. The sequence started with Osvaldo Alonso putting Chad Marshall in an awkward position deep in the defensive end. Marshall’s clearing pass was easily intercepted, which got NYCFC rushing toward goal. Jo Inge Berget’s center pass evaded a pair of Sounders defenders and Jesus Medina easily beat Stefan Frei to snap the Seattle’s season-best 290-minute shutout streak.
At that point, it looked like the Sounders might let two points slip away as NYCFC continued to apply pressure. But in perhaps the best sign that the Sounders’ season is turning around, they were able to restore their two-goal lead courtesy of Harry Shipp, who was allowed space in the box and blasted his shot past Johnson.