Seattle Sounders "bend but don't break" in absence of stars in gritty win over DC United

One lingering doubt about the Seattle Sounders during their run to the top of the Supporters’ Shield race has been their ability to win low-scoring games.

By winning 1-0 at D.C. United on Saturday, the Sounders showed they are capable of winning even when the chances are coming few and far between.

“I thought we were solid,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid told reporters after the game. “We played 120 minutes on Tuesday [a penalty shootout win over the San Jose Earthquakes in the US Open Cup], and I thought our performance was one of those where we bent a little bit but we didn’t break. I thought our defense held together well.”

The Sounders got the only goal they needed in the 39th minute when Chad Barrett continued his recent run of good form with his third goal in four games – all starts. Barrett was able to rise above the defense and beat D.C. goalkeeper Bill Hamid on a header from a perfect Gonzalo Pineda cross.

From there, the Sounders were mostly content to sit back and absorb whatever pressure United were able to generate. The Sounders were out-possessed and out shot 14-5, including 9-1 in the second half.

“I feel like our defense is really coming around,” Barrett said. “We put out a lot of different lineups at the beginning [of the season]. Now, everybody is getting used to each other, but the big thing is we fight for each other until the very end.”

To some degree, the Sounders were forced into their conservative game plan. Not only were they missing Clint Dempsey and DeAndre Yedlin, who are with the United States World Cup team, forward Obafemi Martins was also out while serving his suspension from the red card he received in the Sounders’ previous match.

The Sounders continued to prove they are among the deepest teams in the league, though, improving to 4-0-1 since their World Cup players left for national-team duty. In all, the Sounders are 5-1-1 in matches Dempsey has missed.

“We’re a very close team,” Barrett said. “A lot of these guys are like our brothers on the team. Nobody’s going to disrupt that. I know that when Clint and Obafemi Martins get back, they’re the frontrunners, this is their team, but hopefully what I’ve done so far will get me more minutes afterwards.”