Sounders Fall In Park Opener
BY MATT GASCHK
Sounders FC Insider
CHESTER, Penn - It was hot and humid at PPL Park as the Philadelphia Union debuted their new stadium on Sunday.
All the heat, though, appeared to be on the home team when Fredy Montero was dragged down in the box for a penalty in the 59th minute. With the score knotted at 1-1, it looked as though the Sounders FC were about to regain the lead after the Union had converted an equalizing penalty just four minutes earlier.
Pat Noonan stepped over the ball poised to add to his first half goal, but Chris Seitz dove to his right and smothered Noonan’s shot and the momentum turned dramatically to the Union.
Two goals later, the Sounders were looking at their second straight loss, a 3-1 defeat to the Union in front of a sold-out crowd of 18,755 in the first match at PPL Park.
“We were where we wanted to be at halftime,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “We got a penalty kick back and we haven’t scored a penalty kick in MLS play and that killed us in the end. If we score that penalty kick it’s a different game.”
Philadelphia controlled much of the play in the first half and Sebastien Le Toux put Seattle goalkeeper Kasey Keller to work with consecutive shots from the top of the box in the 26th and 27th minutes. Keller dove to his right to save the first and the left to save the second though and the door remained opened for the Sounders FC.
Before the halftime whistle, Noonan gave Seattle the lead with his first goal of the season. Steve Zakuani passed to Fredy Montero at the top of the box, then Montero touched it through to Noonan who knocked it past Seitz for the 1-0 lead in the 44th minute.
Then as the second half started, the Union earned a penalty kick when Alejandro Moreno was grounded in a collision with Tyrone Marshall in the box. Quick to the ground throughout the first half of the match, Moreno chased into the box and dropped when Marshall kicked the ball clear and caught him on the follow through.
Le Toux converted the penalty in the 55th minute to even the score at 1-1.
On the other side of the field, Montero fielded a pass and carried it into the box, where he was knocked down from behind by a Union defender to give the Sounders their first penalty of the season and only the third in franchise history.
Noonan, looking to add to his earlier tally, shot low and to the left and Seitz pounced on it for the save, turning the momentum in favor of the Union.
In the 70th minute Union midfielder Fred shot from 22 yards out, but Keller punched it away, then Keller parried another shot from Moreno over the crossbar in the 72nd minute.
“Keller came up big on some big saves,” Schmid said. “But that’s what a goalkeeper is supposed to do, that’s his job.”
Keller’s heroics wouldn’t last forever though and in the 79th minute, Le Toux sent a ball across the front of the box, skipping past a slew of players in the box until it found the feet of Fred at the far post for a one-touch goal.
In the 85th minute the Union added to the lead when Le Toux got away up the right side and crossed to Danny Mwanga on a run into the box. Keller stopped his initial shot, but the ball fell right to Mwanga’s feet for a putback goal to give Philadelphia a 3-1 lead.
The Union successfully killed the final five minutes and the Sounders were left with their second straight loss, dropping to 4-7-3 on the season. The Union improve to 3-7-1.
“We lacked energy, and we let them back into the game,” Noonan said. “They came back and scored and put it away. It’s frustrating.”
The Sounders will face the Portland Timbers in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Wednesday night at PGE Park in Portland before taking the road for an Independence Day clash with the LA Galaxy next Sunday at the Home Depot Center.
Sounders FC - Pat Noonan (Fredy Montero, Steve Zakuani) 44
Union - Sebastien Le Toux (PK) 54; Fred (Le Toux) 79; Danny Mwanga 84
Sounders FC - Kasey Keller, Leo Gonzalez, Jeff Parke, Tyrone Marshall, James Riley, Steve Zakuani (Nate Jaqua 72), Patrick Ianni, Peter Vagenas (Mike Seamon 66), Freddie Ljungberg, Fredy Montero, Pat Noonan (Roger Levesque 80).
Union - Chris Seitz, Shea Salinas, Jordan Harvey, Danny Califf, Cristian Arrieta, Stefani Miglioranzi, Roger Torres (Andrew Jacobson 63), Fred (Amobi Okugo 81), Sebastien Le Toux, Danny Mwanga (Nick Zimmerman 87), Alejandro Moreno.