Cooper’s late goal gives Sounders a 2-1 win over FC Dallas


SEATTLE — More late-game excitement. More franchise records to update.

For Sounders FC fans, it never gets old.

Seattle rallied for yet another astonishing comeback, getting two second-half goals set up masterfully by star forward Obafemi Martins to stun visiting FC Dallas, 2-1, and cap a perfect three-game homestand in front of 38,489 at CenturyLink Field on Wednesday night.

The first-place Sounders, after an 88th-minute winner from Kenny Cooper, matched a pair of team records with a fifth straight win and the best 10-game start to a season at 7-2-1.

After the latest drama, coach Sigi Schmid said, “It’s probably more nerve-wracking for us on the bench than it is for them on the field, but they have the great belief in themselves.”

Trailing 1-0, Seattle equalized in the 62nd minute when Martins perfectly timed a pass to Lamar Neagle for a nice right-footed finish in the penalty box. Neagle, who turned 27 Saturday, collected his fourth goal of the season.

The Sounders then pressed relentlessly for a winner, but it looked like it might not come against goalkeeper Raul Fernandez, who made a number of dazzling saves. The first series came in the 68th minute, when Fernandez dived to deflect an Osvaldo Alonso shot off the post and then came up huge to block a rebound attempt by Clint Dempsey.

In the 81st minute, Fernandez stopped Neagle from just a few feet in front of goal after a skillful, weaving run by Chad Barrett.

Fernandez could do nothing seven minutes later, though, when Martins played a pinpoint pass to Cooper for a wide-open chance in front of goal the substitute buried.

Martins, who learned Tuesday he wouldn’t be part of Nigeria’s World Cup team, has a league-leading six assists and has directly factored into 10 goals this season, second in MLS only to Dempsey’s 11.

“We just kept going,” said Martins. “We knew we could get a point, but now we’re happy with three.”

Cooper has 75 career goals, 18th in league history and seventh among active players, but he didn’t celebrate the winner so not to disrespect his former and hometown team.

“It was a really great ball from Oba,” said Cooper. “He has so much quality and just great vision and really put it on a platter for me.”

Dallas fell to 5-4-1 on the season having lost four of five. Seattle has earned at least a tie in the last five games when trailing, earning wins in the last four such instances.

“It’s a credit to our team and the way in which we play,” said Dempsey. “We’re always on front foot, we always try to play the right way, and I think we get rewarded for that.”

The Sounders started the game out strong, nearly scoring in the second minute on a header by Chad Marshall that went into the side netting, but then a disturbing trend continued.

Seattle conceded a penalty kick in the 15th minute, when defender Brad Evans inadvertently tripped up Dallas forward Blas Perez in the penalty box. It was the fourth PK allowed in seven games, equaling the amount given up by the Sounders in the 2012 and 2013 seasons combined.

“It was Blas Perez, pretty standard; that’s what he’s looking for,” said Evans, who started at left back. “No intention of fouling him in any way. … He just falls … on the ground. That’s pretty typical of him. That’s how he plays. I don’t expect anything else. I should’ve known better.”

FCD’s Michel converted the spot kick a minute later to give the visitors a 1-0 lead, but it was just the latest in a series of leads that hasn’t been safe against Seattle.

“I wished for three points,” the birthday boy Neagle said, “and I got it.”

Notes

• Sounders FC’s next plays Sunday at New England, which is set to be Seattle’s last game for a while at full strength with Dempsey, Evans and possibly DeAndre Yedlin set to be called into a pre-World Cup training camp with the U.S. national team.

• Ex-Sounder Adam Moffat, who was involved in the trade that brought Cooper to Seattle, started for the visitors.

• The 115,587 fans drawn the past 12 days are more than any other MLS team has drawn all season.

 

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