Sounders FC Stays Unbeaten
By MATT GASCHK
Sounders FC Insider
CARSON, Calif. - It was a night of mixed emotions for the Sounders FC.
On one hand, they maintained a streak of six consecutive unbeaten matches in MLS play and nine overall while holding Chivas USA scoreless for their third straight clean sheet with four in their last five league games.
On the other hand, they couldn’t capitalize on the offensive end and lose Leo Gonzalez for the next MLS match because of a red card in stoppage time.
Seattle held possession most of the match and withstood a barrage of late efforts by Chivas and ended up with a 0-0 draw in front of 13,839 at the Home Depot Center.
“In the first half I thought we played well, I thought we controlled the game pretty much, maybe we were unlucky not to get one,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “But you’re going on the road and you’re not going to win every game and so to come out of here – it’s a tough place to play – to come out of here with a 0-0 tie and at least get a point, we’re not super thrilled with it but we’re not super disappointed with it either.”
The Sounders continued their incredible run on the defensive side, getting outstanding performances all across the defense, but particularly from Patrick Ianni and Jeff Parke in the central roles. Seattle’s defense held Chivas to just one first-half shot and goalkeeper Kasey Keller only had to make three saves in the match, all in the second half and none particularly dangerous.
“I’m just happy with the way we’ve been playing and the way we’ve been stepping out to block shots, the way we’ve tracked runners and got out on the counterattack,” Keller said. “It really has been an unbelievable turn around in the last eight to ten games.”
What started as a somewhat physical match got a bit scary in the 38th minute when Fredy Montero and Chivas USA goalkeeper Zach Thornton collided while going after a ball in the box. Montero leapt to get to the ball just as Thornton did, while the mammoth keeper swung his arm to knock the ball away.
Montero, who gives away five inches and over 70 pounds to Thornton, was left on the ground nearly motionless for a minute while Thornton worked to replace a lost contact lens. Montero ended up with a thigh contusion and a thoroughly rung bell, though he remained in the match until being subbed out in the 86th minute.
The second half featured much more action, as Chivas opened up a bit more with the addition of halftime substitute Giancarlo Maldonado. The result was some early pressure, culminating in a low-angled shot from Rodolfo Espinoza that Keller saved right against the post.
In the 62nd minute, Blaise Nkufo crossed the ball to Sanna Nyassi for a threatening header with some open space in front of the net, but the ball could only find the upright and Chivas dodged a bullet by clearing the ball away.
Nagamura had another chance from close range, but Keller sprung to action and made the save on the eight-yard shot.
“I thought we defended together as a unit,” Schmid said. “We always talk about the back four, but that was really good from the wide midfielders to get that done. I thought Parke was very good today, and overall defensively I thought we were solid.”
The top play came though when Osvaldo Alonso wound up for a shot from 22 yards out, causing Thornton to sprawl to his left as he made a fingertip save on the would-be game-winner in the 88th minute.
As the final whistle loomed, more physical play marred the pitch. Leo Gonzalez got in tight to defend Mariano Trujillo against the sideline and Trujillo took exception, swinging an elbow, then a backhand at Gonzalez to start a fracas. Gonzalez and Trujillo were both issued red card ejections.
The Sounders moved to 8-8-5 (29 points) and maintained a hold on fourth in the Western Conference while Chivas is now 5-10-4 (19 points) and remain in 8th in the West.
Seattle will take the week off from MLS play, but will have two CONCACAF Champions League matches before hosting the Chicago Fire August 28. They first will face Marathon in Honduras on Thursday, then host Mexican club Monterrey August 25 at Qwest Field.
Sounders FC - None.
Chivas USA - None.
Sounders FC - Kasey Keller, James Riley, Patrick Ianni, Jeff Parke, Leo Gonzalez, Sanna Nyassi (Roger Levesque 82), Osvaldo Alonso, Nathan Sturgis, Alvaro Fernandez (Miguel Montano 67), Fredy Montero (Nate Jaqua 86), Blaise Nkufo.
Chivas USA - Zach Thornton, Mariano Trujillo, Dario Delgado, Michael Umana, Ante Jazic (Jonathan Bornstein 30), Rodolfo Espinoza, Michael Lahoud, Paulo Nagamura, Osael Romero (Giancarlo Maldonaldo 67), Justin Braun, Alan Gordon (Jesus Padilla 79).