COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Eddie Johnson scored in the 14th minute to lift the Seattle Sounders to a 1-0 win against the Columbus Crew on Saturday night despite playing down a man for 83 minutes.
"One of our team goals is defending top to bottom and getting something on the road," he said. "If we can defend good for 90 minutes-plus we know one goal can get us a victory on the road."
Johnson gave Seattle (12-8-4) the lead on a header off a 35-yard free kick by Mauro Rosales for his seventh goal. Morales lofted a service to Johnson between two defenders in the middle of the box in a match delayed 94 minutes at the start because of inclement weather.
"One of my strengths is being dangerous in the box," Johnson said. "Mauro Rosales and I have a good relationship. Four of the seven goals I have, I think, he assisted."
Seattle has not lost the last 44 times (36-0-8) it has scored first. Meanwhile the Crew fell to 0-10-3 this season when yielding the opening goal.
The Sounders' Leonardo Gonzales was sent off in the 7th minute when, as the last defender, he pulled down Ryan Finley 40 yards from goal.
"Technically it was a red card on Leo but I thought Finley was barely touched and he fell over," Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said.
The Crew (8-13-5) had a header by Konrad Warzycha hit the crossbar in the 79th minute and moments later Seattle's Michael Gspurning made a stretching stop of Dominic Oduro's breakaway.
"These chances we need to score. Simple as that," Crew coach Robert Warzycha said.
Johnson is expected to return to Crew Stadium on Sept. 10 with the U.S. national team in its World Cup qualifier against Mexico.
Seattle teammates Clint Dempsey and Brad Evans are also on the roster but Evans left the match in the 19th minute with a pulled calf muscle and said a decision on whether he will join the U.S. for training in Miami on Sunday in preparation for Friday's qualifier at Costa Rica has not been made.
Johnson was removed in the 61st minute with tightness in his hamstrings but said he will be OK.
"It was smart of the coach to bring me out," he said.
Dempsey's back tightened in the second half but he finished the match and is expected to be ready to face Costa Rica as well.