The Sounders FC dominated nearly all aspects of the game Thursday night in the Community Shield match at Qwest Field against the Portland Timbers.
They outshot the Timbers 15-6, controlled possession for the majority of the match and limited Portland’s possession to the midfield and well outside the box. Even the attendance (18,606) and the total money raised for the Sounders FC charitable partners (over $75,000) were impressive.
The one thing they didn’t dominate was the final score.
The Timbers got two breakaway chances and converted one of them for a 1-0 final as the Sounders FC went scoreless for the second consecutive match.
“That’s very disappointing. Disappointing for us, disappointing for our fans,” said goalkeeper Kasey Keller. “Hopefully it’s a wakeup call. We can’t just be at home and think that we’re going to win just because we have a great crowd behind us. We need to be better.”
Seattle held possession the majority of the first half, then in the 44th minute George Josten slipped a ball to OJ Obatala for a one-touch goal and that was all Portland would need.
“There's not a whole lot to say, we're obviously disappointed with the result tonight,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “I thought we moved the ball pretty much at will. I thought our possession was good. It was the old bugaboo, not getting enough people in the box (and) we had crosses coming a little bit too late. Overall, I still thought our play was much better than it was in Vancouver.”
Seattle had the first good scoring chance in the 15th minute, as Brad Evans sent a cross from the right side. Steve Zakuani got some room and made a sliding play on the ball to put it on net, only to have Portland goalkeeper Steve Cronin make the first of his six great saves to keep the game scoreless.
Two minutes later, Cronin saved Portland again, parrying a Freddie Ljungberg free kick over the bar for a Seattle corner kick.
“I think we played well, for the most part. We just didn’t score,” Zakuani said. “To lose 1-nil is disappointing because we didn’t score. I don’t know what’s missing. We got in behind, our combinations are good, our play was good, we just missed our chances.”
Seattle continued to control the run of play, but then in the 44th minute Obatola made his mark. Catching the Sounders on the counter-attack, Josten raced up the left side and got even with the six-yard box before sliding a pass past the Sounders defense to Obatola crashing down the middle of the box for a one-touch goal.
“When you're dominating the game, there's always a chance you're going to take a counter. On that particular play we had like three guys very tight to the ball, one pass beat all three guys and we got caught,” Schmid said.
It was the first goal the Sounders FC had allowed in 336 minutes of preseason action after three straight shutouts.
“What are you going to do? The guy breaks through and side-foots it around me,” Keller said. “Those are the most frustrating goals for goalkeepers because you know there is just nothing you can do.”
The second half saw more of the same, as the Sounders continued their control of the ball. The biggest change was that Seattle was pushing forward more in the second half, with ten shots and five shots on goal coming after halftime.
Second half subs Roger Levesque and Jeff Parke figured prominently into the change of approach, with Parke providing a spark moving forward from the back line and Levesque creating havoc up front.
“The guys that came in during the last 20 minutes truly impacted the game. They upped the intensity and gave us some opportunities to win the game. But, we just couldn’t get the goal.”
In the end, though the result was the same as Cronin finished with six saves to keep Seattle off the board.
The Sounders fell to 3-2-1 in the preseason and will have their final tune-up before the season opener next week. Seattle will face the Colorado Rapids on Friday, March 19, in Colorado’s Charity Shield match at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado.
Portland - OJ Obatola (George Josten) 44
Sounders FC lineup - Kasey Keller, Brad Evans, Tyrone Marshall (Jeff Parke 46), Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez (Tyson Wahl 80), Kevin Souter (David Estrada 60), Peter Vagenas (Stephen King 74), Osvaldo Alonso, Steve Zakuani (Patrick Ianni 67), Freddie Ljungberg (Roger Levesque 46), Fredy Montero.
Timbers lineup - Steve Cronin, Stephen Keel, Ian Joy, Ross Smith, Mamadou Danso, Quavas Kirk (Scot Thompson 73), James Marcelin (Derek Gaudet 89), Rodrigo Lopez (Alex Nimo 54), Ryan Pore, OJ Obatola (Doug DeMartin 62), George Josten (Josh Cameron 87).