By MATT GASCHK
Sounders FC Insider
SEATTLE - The lament for many of the 36,364 in attendance at CenturyLink Field on Saturday afternoon may be the missed penalties, but Sounders FC head coach was regretting several other opportunities that Seattle had to unknot the scoreless match.
In the end, all they had was their grief on the offensive end in a stingy defensive effort and the Sounders drew Chivas USA 0-0.
“We deserved to win the game. The team deserved better,” forward Pat Noonan said. “Offensively, I had one or two chances that I’ve got to finish. We’ve got a PK, maybe a second. It just wasn’t clinical in the final third. I take a lot of responsibility for that.”
Kasey Keller finished the match with three saves to earn his seventh clean sheet of the season, but he went largely untested while the Sounders pressed all match to break through. A missed penalty by Alvaro Fernandez in the 19th minute and a missed penalty call when Lamar Neagle was brought down in the box in the 89th minute were just the tip of the iceberg for Seattle’s missed chances.
“I’m proud of our defensive effort. I thought our defensive effort was good. We really only got exposed one time on the save that Kasey made in the first half on a nice little touch by Alejandro (Moreno),” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “Outside of that, I thought we were a lot better defensively. It just didn’t go in at the other end.”
In the 14th minute and the 16th minute, Noonan got his head on two contested headers, but missed high on the first and wide on the second.
Fernandez got into the box up the left side and tried to cross it to the middle, but it was knocked down by Michael Umana, who reached out his right hand and knocked it down for a penalty.
Fernandez stepped to the mark, but his shot hit off the post and caromed off the back of Dan Kennedy and away for a corner kick, leaving the game scoreless in the 19th minute.
“I don’t think the problem had to do with the strength. It was more about the direction. I shot right into the post, it bounced back on the keeper and out,” Fernandez said. “That’s how penalties go. It was not kicked that badly, but it cost us two points.”
Before the half Tyson Wahl even got into the act, banging a pass from Fredy Montero just outside the near post in the 37th minute on a strong run up the left side.
To start the second half, Seattle continued the charge, but Erik Friberg had his shot deflected and Noonan’s putback effort was saved by Kennedy.
Then another opportunity in the 77th minute by Fernandez was thwarted by Kennedy. James Riley sent a long cross to the far post that went just over the head of Nate Jaqua, but Fernandez was there to get a foot on it. Kennedy was equal to the task at the post, though and again kept the Sounders from claiming the lead.
Finally, in the 89th minute Neagle charged up the left side of the box and was clipped by Chivas USA defender Junior Lopes. The referee appeared to point to the penalty spot for a second Sounders FC PK, but pointed instead in the other direction for a Chivas goal kick after the ball rolled out of play.
“I took a touch by him and I think I got clipped,” Neagle said. “I haven’t been known to dive ever in my life. I haven’t practiced it or anything like that. What can you do? We still had a lot of chances we could have put away anyway. We had chances to win the game.”
The draw pulled the Sounders even with FC Dallas for second in MLS at 11-5-9 (42 points). Dallas plays later on Saturday in Philadelphia. Chivas USA moved to 7-8-9 (30 points).
“Just a little bit of frustration because at the moment. We seem to either be playing well offensively and not so well defensively, or well defensively and not so well offensively. If we want to really make a run into the playoffs, we’ve got to be able to put them both together,” Keller said. “In games like this, we could see this game out two-nil, three-nil, which we’re more than capable of doing. But in saying that, we haven’t had a clean sheet in the league for a while, so that’s a nice positive. But this is a game we should have won and we’re frustrated because of that.”
The Sounders will head to Pizza Hut Park to take on FC Dallas on Saturday, but have a midweek match with Comunicaciones from Guatemala to contend with first. It will be their first match of the group stage in CONCACAF Champions League play.
Sounders FC - None.
Chivas USA - None.
Sounders FC - Tyson Wahl (caution) 23; Erik Friberg (caution) 89;
Chivas USA - Nick LaBrocca (caution) 34; Simon Elliott (caution) 45; Ante Jazic (caution) 80;
Sounders FC - Kasey Keller, James Riley, Jeff Parke, Zach Scott, Tyson Wahl, Mauro Rosales, Osvaldo Alonso, Erik Friberg, Alvaro Fernandez, Pat Noonan (Nate Jaqua 69), Fredy Montero (Lamar Neagle 83).
Chivas USA - Dan Kennedy, Zarek Valentin (David Lopes 73), Michael Umana, Heath Pearce, Ante Jazic, Blair Gavin, Simon Elliott, Nick LaBrocca, Jorge Flores (Laurent Courtois 46), Marcos Mondaini (Justin Braun 23), Alejandro Moreno.