Sunday, May 2, 2010

SOUNDERS FC: Seattle draws Crew on controversial flop

Composed by: Galen Helmgren
All Photos by: Jane Gershovich/NSS All photos property of NSS. Do not copy or redistribute.

Honestly, the Sounders FC should have won tonight’s match against the Columbus Crew. Were it not for a late flop by Ohio’s defense, Fredy Montero would have scored the winning goal with moments left in stoppage time. Although the scoreboard read 1-1 after 93 minutes, Seattle played perhaps the best football of their entire season.

To Continue...

From the first whistle, the Sounders were obviously the better team on the pitch. Sharp passing from defense to the midfield, excellent vision and a few lucky runs gave Seattle the momentum early.

In the fourth minute, Steve Zakuani corralled a chip pass from Freddie Ljungberg and drove toward the goal. Crew defenders threw hands in the air, pleading for an offsides call, but none came. Zakuani shot a quick look at the referee’s assistant, made a move to his right, upsetting the keeper, and uncorked the first goal of the game. Ljungberg, who was at the heart of most of the Sounder’s scoring chances, almost made it 2-0 in the eighth minute of the match, but his shot failed to reach the net.

The early score gave the Sounders, who were in their lucky, blue uniforms, time to relax and execute some fantastic plays up the wings, but more impressive was how well they stayed in possession and controlled the tempo of the match.
“There was a period of time, 10 minutes where I thought [Columbus] had more control of the ball, but other than that our midfield definitely controlled them,” said Sounders Head Coach Sigi Schmid after the match.

As the game heated up, so did the player’s tempers. By halftime, Seattle had accumulated seven fouls to the opposition's five, but the Crew, like most teams visiting Qwest, came out of the gate playing rough. By the final whistle, Columbus had earned three yellow cards and one red card, while Seattle managed not to draw too much wrath from the referees. Then it happened. 30 seconds into the stoppage time in the first half, the Crew swung a pass to the outside and a few touches later, it burrowed into the net behind Keller. The goal seemed to take the wind out of Seattle’s sails in the second half. The fire, precision and intensity that marked the first half was gone, replaced with the Sounders team from May 2009. (Remember? They tied each of the five games they played that month.)

Finally, with the game in stoppage time and three points on the line, Montero made his game-winning shot… Wait, I mean would have made his game-winning shot if the flop-tacular Columbus Crew had not drawn the ref’s eye, negating the miracle goal and turning this fantastic game to a 1-1 draw.

Reach Galen Helmgren at