Two goals from Clint Dempsey weren’t enough Saturday as the Columbus Crew ended the Seattle Sounders’ three-game winning streak, 3-2.
“We were fortunate: Stefan Frei came up with some good saves,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said. “I thought we were a step slow, a little bit. Maybe the travel two weekends in a row going coast to coast made it a little bit tough. But we were in the game: came back and made it 3-2. … We were looking for the 3-3: We were in the doorstep for that a couple of times.”
Columbus’ Kei Kamara matched Dempsey with a pair of goals, including what proved to be the winner in the 58th minute.
The goals were the sixth and seventh of the season for each player, putting them tied atop the MLS Golden Boot race.
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“It’s good,” Schmid said. “But I’m sure Clint would trade his two goals for a win.”
The game was fast-paced with end-to-end attacking most of the way. However, the Crew seemed to find its legs first, and jumped ahead in the 10th minute when Kamara darted in front of central defender Chad Marshall and headed in the first goal.
Seattle equalized in the 24th minute as Dempsey sent in a curling shot after finding space at the top of the penalty arc.
Federico Higuain put Columbus (4-3-2) back ahead early in the second half, and then Kamara made it 3-1 in the 58th minute.
That concluded the Crew’s scoring as Frei went on to record a club record-tying 10 saves.
“The second goal — the goal Higuain scores — we didn’t defend that well at all,” Schmid said. “We didn’t step up, and that was the goal that sort of broke our back a little bit. That was early in the second half, and then everything you talk about at halftime goes out the window.”
Dempsey cut the lead back to one in the 75th minute, on a controversial goal in which he appeared to be offside before sending a rebounded shot into the net. However, referee Edvin Jurisevic told a pool reporter after the match that Dempsey was ruled even with the ball and therefore onside.
However, the Sounders (5-3-1) couldn’t find a second equalizer, and suffered their first loss since April 12.
“We tried to hold them a little bit and keep patient, but they scored early,” midfielder Gonzalo Pineda said. “... We had some struggles in the midfield with their movements. I think we never find the way to solve it. We were dangerous sometimes with Clint and Oba, but not enough.”
It was the Sounders’ first loss in five visits to Columbus’ home field, which this season has been renamed MAPFRE Stadium. The Crew has been dangerous there, scoring 10 goals over its past three home games.
“We gave them too much space,” Schmid said. “Might have got the tactics wrong a little bit, and that’s on me. So that’s something that I’ve already thought about. ... We made a decision to play one way, and that was maybe not the right decision. But on the same token, sometimes we were in position but we were just a step slow.”
The Sounders will conclude their run of three consecutive road games Saturday at Vancouver.