SEATTLE – There are many ways to win or lose a match.
The Sounders played two different games in racing out to a 2-0-0 start to their MLS season.
On Saturday night, they were undone by the wily play of Steven Lenhart and some expert shot-stopping of Jon Busch. The result was a 1-0 defeat to the San Jose Earthquakes for Seattle’s first loss of the season at CenturyLink Field.
“Sometimes games go like that a little bit,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said.
Lenhart played his crafty style, getting under the skin of his marker throughout his 67 minutes, while also being whistle for three fouls himself. That niggling approach drew a penalty call on Marc Burch in the 23rd minute, which was converted by Chris Wondolowski.
“He sells fouls pretty well and I’m sure he sold that one as well as he could and the ref bought into it,” Burch said. “He’s the type of player that looks for that the entire season and he got one. I should be better than that. It’s the same tricks every time he plays.”
Seattle had their opportunities to equalize, but couldn’t get past Busch, who finished the night with six saves for his third shutout of the season.
The Sounders got their best chance in the 84th minute when second-half substitute Sammy Ochoa knocked a ball down for Fredy Montero to run on a left-footed shot from the top of the box, but Busch sprung to his right to paw it away for a corner kick.
“I thought our reaction was OK. We tried to come out and play soccer and score a goal,” Schmid said. “I thought we created more chances in the second half. Busch comes up with a big save on that one shot and it just wouldn’t fall for us today.”
Sounders FC goalkeeper Michael Gspurning finished the night with four saves and was tested throughout the night, but he and his defense were up to the challenge – even after Jhon Kennedy Hurtado abruptly had to leave just before the start of the second half because of a pelvic injury.
Their best chance through the run of play came shortly after they took the lead when Wondolowski hit a left-footed shot from the top of the box the Gspurning dove to save.
In the second half, they took just five shots, forcing Gspurning into two saves to keep the game close as Seattle built their attack.
“I think they were dangerous, especially on counter-attacks,” Gspurning said. “The second half was much better, but on days like this sometimes the ball isn’t meant to go in.”
The Sounders will play their first road match of the season next Saturday against DC United, who started the year at 1-2-1 after topping FC Dallas 4-1 on Friday for their first win of the season.
Sounders FC – None.
Earthquakes – Chris Wondolowski (PK) 24.
Sounders FC – Osvaldo Alonso (caution) 6; Christian Sivebæk (caution) 47+; Zach Scott (caution) 79.
Earthquakes – Rafael Baca (caution) 64; Steven Lenhart (caution) 64; Alan Gordon (caution) 81.
Sounders FC – Michael Gspurning, Zach Scott, Patrick Ianni, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (Jeff Parke 46), Marc Burch, Christian Sivebæk (Sammy Ochoa 62), Osvaldo Alonso, Servando Carrasco (Alex Caskey 74), Alvaro Fernandez, Fredy Montero, David Estrada.
Earthquakes – Jon Busch, Steven Beitashour, Victor Bernardez, Justin Morrow, Ramiro Corrales (Jason Hernandez 46), Sam Cronin, Rafael Baca, Marvin Chavez (Simon Dawkins 89), Shea Salinas, Chris Wondolowski, Steven Lenhart (Alan Gordon 67).