CARSON, Calif. — The Sounders fell behind in all three games of a long April road trip, yet they will return home having earned two wins and a tie after a wild stretch of dramatic comebacks.
The latest excitement came Saturday as Seattle fell behind early to Chivas USA, only to rally for a 2-1 win, aided by a late red card to the hosts and fueled by two Clint Dempsey assists in front of 7,499 at StubHub Center.
“We know our quality,” said Dempsey, “and if we do concede, we have players that can create chances and get goals and will fight to the end. We have a lot of character on this team.”
The Sounders (4-2-1) also continued their dominance in the series, having gone 8-0-4 in MLS against the Goats with six straight wins. When including the U.S. Open Cup, the unbeaten run is 10-0-4, having prevailed in the past seven.
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With the score tied 1-1 in the second half, Seattle got a huge boost in the 73rd minute when Chivas midfielder Marco Delgado was ejected for a dangerous slide tackle on Gonzalo Pineda.
The Sounders, fouled a franchise-most 26 times, made the man advantage count eight minutes later when Dempsey set up forward Obafemi Martins behind the Chivas USA defense. Martins calmly chipped in a shot over sliding goalkeeper Dan Kennedy for Martin’s second goal of the season, followed by his trademark back-flip celebration.
“I’m happy for the team,” Martins said after ending his 373-minute scoring drought. “We worked so hard to get the three points.”
All of the Sounders’ past three road games — including a 4-4 tie April 5 in Portland and a 3-2 win April 12 in Dallas — had a result-changing goal in the final 10 minutes of the game.
Seattle is an MLS-best 3-0-1 away from home this season after going 5-10-2 in 2013.
Chivas USA (1-3-3) opened the scoring on a fifth-minute penalty kick when Seattle’s Osvaldo Alonso was whistled for a foul just at the edge of the penalty box, a debatable call after a slide tackle from behind on Leandro Barrera.
“It looked soft,” said coach Sigi Schmid, “but it is what it is.”
Erick Torres, who appeared to get away with completely stopping on the run-up before the shot, converted the spot kick to the left of goalkeeper Stefan Frei for Torres’ sixth goal of the season, which tied Dempsey for the league lead.
The Sounders equalized in the 24th minute when the normally surehanded Kennedy spilled a routine ball in the penalty box. It eventually fell to the feet of Federal Way native Lamar Neagle for the gift of a goal, his second of the year.
Neagle described it as “one of those where it lands in front of you and you’re fortunate. Those are ones that players like me love just cleaning up. Three yards out, and you smash it. Goal.”
Dempsey helped set up Neagle to increase Dempsey’s streak to six straight regular-season games with either a goal or assist. Dempsey has played an important role in 10 of the 11 Sounders’ goals when he has been on the field.
Seattle, tied for second in the Western Conference, has scored in all seven games, its longest streak to start a season.
“It’s always good to win and move up the table to where we should be,” said Dempsey. “We put in a good performance, so we’re happy.”
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @joshuamayers.