It might have been the loudest cheer of the year.
When Sounders FC forward Lamar Neagle knocked home a go-ahead goal in the 81st minute against the rival Vancouver Whitecaps, a season-high crowd of 53,679 at CenturyLink Field burst into a frenzy.
The late goal allowed Seattle to escape with an exhilarating 3-2 win Saturday despite blowing an early 1-0 lead. The Sounders (6-4-3) have won five of their last six MLS games and boast the league’s best record over the past eight games at 6-1-1.
“Maybe a little more exciting than what we wanted to make it,” Neagle said, “but it was great to be able to come back and get a win for the fans.”
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Vancouver (4-5-4) still has not beaten a Pacific Northwest rival — Seattle or Portland — in 12 games since joining MLS, with seven losses and five ties.
Neagle, sometimes overlooked nationally in the Sounders’ talent-rich attack, was the reason why Saturday.
The Federal Way product played a vital role in all three goals by setting up midfielder Andy Rose for the game opener, drawing a penalty kick that would tie the game in the 70th minute after the Whitecaps took the lead, and finishing the comeback himself. He is tied for the team lead in goals with four, and in assists with three.
“You can’t ask much more of a forward than that,” coach Sigi Schmid said.
Trailing 2-1 in the second half, the Sounders were consistently dangerous in pursuit of an equalizer.
A great chance to pull level came in the 54th minute, when forward Obafemi Martins appeared to be fouled just inside the penalty box. Referee Hilario Grajeda, however, judged the infraction to have occurred inches outside the box — much to the dismay of the home team and fans — and the ensuing free kick from midfielder Servando Carrasco was deflected away.
Seattle would get the PK later, when Neagle was hacked down near the goal by defender Jordan Harvey.
“It was Wal-Mart day today,” Schmid joked. “It was two-for-one: two fouls in the box give you one penalty.”
Carrasco, making his seventh straight start, finished confidently for the first MLS goal of his three-year career.
“I knew that I had to step up and score,” he said. “It was an important time in the game and there was only one thought on my mind — put it in the back of the net.”
Neagle added the winner later as the Sounders improved to 5-0 in front of home crowds larger than 50,000 with a 14-3 goal differential in those game. Saturday’s turnout was fifth largest in team history for an MLS game.
“There were so many fans who came to watch the game today and we didn’t disappoint them,” Martins said.
Seattle has scored 11 times in its past three home games, and it started early on Saturday when Neagle set up Rose’s first goal of the season in the ninth minute.
But the lead was short-lived.
Vancouver answered a minute later, when forward Camilo assertively finished a header on a cross from Russell Teibert. Then the visitors took the lead in the 26th minute through that same combination.
The deficit, after scoring first, was a unique position for the Sounders.
Seattle came into the game on a 30-0-8 unbeaten streak when scoring the game’s first goal — the longest active run in MLS and second-longest in league history to New York’s 58 games.
Make it 31-0-8.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @joshuamayers.