SEATTLE – The Sounders FC raised their US Open Cup championship banner at Qwest Field Saturday. They presented the Open Cup trophy to the crowd of 32,719 and honored their heritage by recognizing several players from the NASL club of the same name.
The players tried to continue that celebration on the field with an exciting match against Chivas USA, but Chivas goalkeeper Zach Thornton spoiled the party with six saves and Seattle had to settle for a 0-0 draw Saturday afternoon.
Seattle goalkeeper Kasey Keller notched his ninth clean sheet and Steve Zakuani, Freddie Ljungberg and Fredy Montero combined on nine shots for the match, but Chivas held on for the draw even after Seattle went up a man on a red card to Chivas defender Marcelo Saragosa.
“It’s one of those games when you sit there and go, shoot, if we get one we’ll probably get three but it just didn’t seem to go in. I thought Zach made a couple of good saves,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “They got bodies in the box once they lost the player to the red card. I thought we pushed forward, we pushed Montero out to the left to get at their defense that way, bring some height inside with Nate (Jaqua). I thought we were close.”
The opportunities started for the Sounders in the 15th minute when Ljungberg chased a ball up the right sideline and sent in a cross to the far post for Zakuani, who headed it down to Sebastien Le Toux, but Thornton knocked away Le Toux’s close-range shot and the score remained 0-0 into halftime.
The home side came out blazing in the second half, with nine of their 12 shots coming after the break.
Ljungberg again crossed to Zakuani, who this time headed forward to Montero, who spun a bicycle kick just wide of the net in the 60th minute.
In the 68th minute, the Sounders appeared to take the lead when Zakuani played a ball to Montero in front of an open net for an easy goal, but Zakuani was whistled offside and the game remained scoreless.
Things continued to turn Seattle’s way when Saragosa came in hard for a ball with his foot high, catching Montero in the neck and earning a red card ejection in the 71st minute, putting Seattle on the man-advantage for the game’s final 19 minutes.
“When I realized what was going on I already felt the boot on my face … and it hurt,” Montero said. “In other situations, like set pieces, you have the opportunity to protect your face, but in this one I really didn’t have any opportunity and it just came like that.”
Almost instantly Ljungberg found himself in space 28 yards out, but his shot missed just wide right. Then in the 83rd minute, Montero was on the receiving end of a long pass and tried to put it past Thornton, but was denied by the Chivas keeper.
“I think we created three or four that were very clear chances that you usually score on,” Ljungberg said. “It was not that our finishes were poor, that keeper just made some amazing saves.”
Seattle got another run at it in the games waning moments, but couldn’t get past Thornton and they settled for their third scoreless draw of the season.
“He is a great goalkeeper. He stopped the ones that he needed to stop. Our keeper is actually going to go home with a clean uniform,” Montero said. “We managed and controlled the game, but unfortunately we didn’t score a goal.”
The draw boosts the Sounders into third place in the Western Conference at 9-6-11 (38 points), while Chivas is now 11-9-4 (37 points).
“I can’t go in there and scream at them because they’re creating changes, but for some reason at home right now … maybe we ought to check the goals. Maybe there’s some cellophane around the goals that we haven’t seen there. It’s clear and we can’t get the ball past it,” Schmid said.
The Sounders will play their next three matches away from Qwest Field, beginning with a road match Saturday against the New England Revolution.