In the jumbled MLS Western Conference, the Seattle Sounders know they can't afford to drop points at home. On Sunday, they found a way to pull out all three.
A shot by Victor Rodriguez that was knocked in for an own goal in the 83rd minute put Seattle ahead, and Nico Lodeiro's goal in stoppage time secured a 4-2 victory over the New York Red Bulls.
The Sounders (14-9-7), with 49 points, have sole possession of second place in the West, a point ahead of Minnesota and three ahead of Real Salt Lake. All three of those teams have four games left.
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"We've been looking at the standings and watching teams that are fighting for playoff position lose games," Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer said. "The challenge for this group today was to take that into their own hands and come out with a good performance and three points - and that was the case. They did everything we asked them to do."
The go-ahead goal came when Rodriguez, playing outside the penalty area on the left side, lofted the ball toward the goal, and New York midfielder Sean Davis leaped toward it. The ball deflected off Davis' right leg into the back right corner of the net.
Lodeiro scored on a breakaway in the third minute of stoppage time. The goal was initially waved off by an offside call. But after a video review by referee Allen Chapman, it was put back onto the scoreboard.
All of that happened in front of two noticeably quiet sections of CenturyLink Field.
The normally vocal atmosphere changed at halftime when the vast majority of fans from one of the Sounders supporters groups walked out, leaving two seating sections at the south end of the stadium largely empty. It was related to the ongoing issue between the MLS and fan groups concerning the Iron Front symbol and whether displays of the symbol are political.
"I understand the conflict and I don't want that to affect the performance of the team," Schmetzer said. "This is an issue that I hope both sides can find a solution. I don't like to see that end of the stadium empty. ... We won, 4-2. Too bad that everybody in the family, our family, our fans, didn't get to enjoy all of it."
New York (12-13-5) had come back from an early 2-0 deficit, getting the equalizer from Kaku in the 67th minute.
Jordan Morris and Lodeiro gave Seattle a 2-0 lead in the first 23 minutes of the game before Aaron Long got the Red Bulls on the board in the 27th.
Morris' goal was his ninth of the season. It came after an initial shot by Gustav Svensson was deflected. The ball landed on Morris' right leg and went into the net. The Red Bulls wanted a hand ball called, but after a video review, the goal was ruled good.
"Some things are bouncing my way," Morris said. "I feel like there have been times in the past where I've been doing things and it just hasn't quite bounced the same way. In the past, Gustav had a great header that might have hit off my leg and went wide. Today, it ended up hitting off my leg and going in."
Morris then had the assist on Lodeiro's 23rd-minute goal. Along with his stoppage-time score, Lodeiro now has seven for the year.
Kaku's goal was his fifth, and Long's was his second.
© 2020 Associated Press