SEATTLE - For 45 minutes, David was equal to the task against Goliath.
The Sounders FC trailed 1-0 against Premier League giants Manchester United in an international friendly that drew 67,052 to CenturyLink Field.
Once the second half started, though, the clock struck midnight on the Cinderella story and United dominated en route to a 7-0 victory that Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid called his most embarrassing defeat as a head coach.
“I felt we had an equal amount of good chances, but that’s the difference in the quality in the level of play - the ability to finish. I need to apologize to our fans because I thought we embarrassed ourselves in the second half, not to take anything away from Man United because they’re a great team,” Schmid said. “For me, I know it’s my most embarrassing loss, personally.”
The Sounders forced seven saves out of goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard and Ben Amos in their 18 shots, but the duo was able to combine on a clean sheet. At the other end, Wayne Rooney scored a hat-trick with just 21 minutes separating his first goal from his third goal and four other United players scored.
The Sounders kept Lindegaard on his toes through the first 14 minutes of the match with eight shots, forcing him to make two saves and keeping possession largely in their offensive half.
In an instant, though, that momentum was negated when Michael Owen found himself in wide open space in front of the Sounders goal with Patrice Evra pushing up the left side. Evra clipped a falling cross to Owen, who snapped a header to the open side of the net to give the Red Devils a 1-0 lead in the 15th minute.
Owen would come close on two other occasions in the first half, but in the defensive play of the night, Kasey Keller stoned him in the 43rd minute. Ryan Giggs slipped the ball to him in the box and Owen was 1v1 with Keller - a place not too unfamiliar for the former Premier League foes. Keller made a move to his left and Owen shot to his right, but Keller dragged his feet just long enough to block the shot and keep the Sounders within striking distance heading into the half.
“In the first half we did well. We were able to hold the ball, we were able to get in on them. We had some chances,” Schmid said. “Montero had some good chances. A little more cleverness and a little more sharpness and we might have had a goal or two. Overall, I wasn’t displeased with what we did in the first half. I thought the first half was good.”
The second half looked like it would be a continuation of the first half even though Seattle came with a mostly different lineup in the second half.
Mike Fucito got a shot in the 49th minute, but Ben Amos, Manchester United’s second-half keeper, made the tip-save to give Seattle a corner kick.
Then the barrage started.
Diouf scored first to make it 2-0 in the 49th minute.
Two minutes later, any chance at a Sounders comeback were burst when Rooney scored the first of his three goals, getting the ball in space in the box off a ball from Nani and hammering it into the net for a 3-0 lead.
He scored unassisted in the 69th minute and off a Gabriel Obertan assist in the 72nd minute to complete the hat-trick, assisting on a Ji-Sung Park goal in the 71st minute in between as Manchester United removed all doubt that the separation between the Premier League and Major League Soccer rides in the league’s star players.
Obertan put the finishing touches on the match with a goal in the 88th minute.
“We wanted to reward all the guys on the team, wanted to play everybody,” Schmid said. “I think in retrospect that was a mistake. I should have played guys and brought some guys off the bench and not tried to get everybody in the game. We’ve had a hard season. We’ve worked very hard and played very well and I wanted to reward all the guys with the opportunity to get on the field against Man United. Unfortunately, they didn’t reward themselves.”
In all, the Sounders used 26 players, seeing the return of forward O’Brian White from surgery to remove a blood clot from his leg and the debut of Tanzanian trialist Mrisho Ngassa.
Seattle will return to the competitive realm with the CONCACAF Champions League next Tuesday with a preliminary round match against San Francisco in Panama. The second leg of the that home-and-home aggregate goal series will come August 3 at CenturyLink Field.
In between, they will look to continue their nine-match unbeaten streak in MLS play against the Houston Dynamo.
Sounders FC - None.
Manchester United - Michael Owen (Patrice Evra, Ashley Young) 15; Mame Biram Diouf 49; Wayne Rooney (Nani 51); Wayne Rooney 69; Ji-Sung Park (Wayne Rooney) 71; Wayne Rooney (Gabriel Obertan) 72; Gabriel Obertan 88.
Sounders FC - None.
Manchester United - None.
Sounders FC - Kasey Keller (Terry Boss 46), James Riley (David Estrada 73), Patrick Ianni (Taylor Graham 64), Jeff Parke (Michael Tetteh 64), Leo Gonzalez (Zach Scott 46), Mauro Rosales (Pat Noonan 46, Mrisho Ngassa 76), Osvaldo Alonso (Servando Carrasco 46), Erik Friberg (Brad Evans 46, Mike Seamon 64), Alvaro Fernandez (Lamar Neagle 46), Fredy Montero (Mike Fucito 46), Roger Levesque (Nate Jaqua 46, Miguel Montano 76).
Manchester United - Anders Lindegaard (Ben Amos 46), Patrice Evra (Fabio Da Silva 56), Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic (Jonny Evans 56), Rafael Da Silva, Nani (Gabriel Obertan 56), Anderson, Ryan Giggs (Ji-Sung Park 46), Michael Owen (Mame Biram Diouf 46), Ashley Young (Michael Carrick 66), Federico Machida (Wayne Rooney 46).