The U.S. national team forward's goal gave the visitors a win despite being a man down for 83 minutes.
Eddie Johnson's seventh goal of the season was all the Sounders needed in a match delayed nearly two hours by storms in the Columbus area. It was the fifth win in six matches for Seattle (12-8-4), while Columbus (8-13-5) dropped its second straight.
The Sounders were reduced to 10 men before they knew it. After a bad giveaway set up Crew forward Ryan Finley with a breakaway, Seattle left back Leo Gonzalez was given his marching orders for tugging the attacker to the ground some 40 yards from goal.
But seven minutes later, it was Seattle that took the lead. As Mauro Rosales hit a free kick into the box, Johnson beat Josh Williams to the service and headed a shot past Matt Lampson.
Seattle was dealt another blow in the 19th minute when midfielder Brad Evans exited with an apparent calf injury — a development that puts his status for the U.S. national team's upcoming World Cup qualifiers in doubt.
Columbus had myriad opportunities to draw even. In the 76th minute, a Konrad Warzycha header struck the crossbar. And four minutes later, Dominic Oduro rounded Seattle goalkeeper Michael Gspurning, only to see his shot float wide.