On a night where a Seattle Sounders soccer match against the Columbus Crew shared headlines with a city's mass concern over coronavirus, for two hours, the action on the field, which featured a back-and-forth second half, out-shined any panic throughout CenturyLink Field.
With the club and King County Health Department setting recommendations for attendees, a surprisingly large crowd, announced at 33,080, still showed up to cheer on the Rave Green on Saturday evening.
And for those in attendance, after a disappointing first half where the Crew took a 1-0 lead, they were treated to a wild second 45 minutes that saw striker Raul Ruidiaz equalize the match with an 80th minute penalty kick. That goal came following a series of plays that included a Nouhou interception and ensuing cross that created a hand-ball on Columbus. Crew goalkeeper Eloy Room then saved Ruidiaz's first penalty kick, but came off his line prior to the kick, forcing a reattempted penalty. The second time, Ruidiaz didn't miss.
Seattle first saw an equalizer in the 53rd minute waved off after Jordan Morris dished a ball to Miguel Ibarra, who then chipped it past Room for what thousands in the stands thought leveled the match. Video Assistant Referee (VAR), however, reviewed the play and deemed Ibarra to be offside, overturning the goal.
The final ten minutes of action held numerous chances for both sides with Morris sending in cross after cross, yearning for the head or foot of an awaiting Ruidiaz, Cristian Roldan, or other attacking Sounder.
In the final moments, a Columbus free kick by midfielder Lucas Zelarayan roughly 25 yards from goal nearly found the inside edge of goal until Seattle keeper Stefan Frei swatted the ball away. Seconds later, Referee Jair Marrufo blew the final whistle and the match ended 1-1 with heart rates throughout CenturyLink still heightened.
Saturday's draw also saw the MLS and Seattle debut of centerback Yeimar Gomez Andrade, a 6'2 Colombian defender signed by the club earlier this year. The team's other marquee off-season signing Joao Paulo started his first game in the defensive midfield as well, alongside Gustav Svensson who returned from a calf strain that sidelined the Swedish midfielder for the first match of the 2020 MLS campaign. The club is still awaiting the return of Nicolas Lodeiro from hamstring tendinitis.
The Sounders now travel to Houston to face the 0-1-1 Dynamo on the road at BBVA Compass Stadium next Saturday at 5:30 p.m. PT. Check out highlights of Seattle's draw against Columbus, plus interviews and KJR's Post-Match Show, all below!