The result was not important to Sounders FC heading into Saturday’s friendly against Tottenham Hotspur. However, there was a different emotion coming out of the locker room after posting a 3-3 draw with the Premier League’s No. 6 team from last season.
Seattle rightfully felt a sense of accomplishment not just for the draw, but how it was achieved, as Sounders FC played toe-to-toe with Spurs throughout the match. They walked off the field healthy and in good standing heading into its return to MLS action on July 28 against the LA Galaxy.
“I think it was a good game. Entertaining. I was happy with how we played in the first half,” Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said. “The main thing I think our team is interested in is that they respect what we can do. We take away that we can possess the ball against a team like that and on this given day, we can compete.”
While Tottenham Hotspur held more possession than Seattle in the first half, Sounders FC was able to keep the playing field level by being dangerous in its possession, holding a 12-5 shooting advantage. However, the visitors from London were clinical in the moment they needed to be, jumping out to a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute.
After a quick series of passes, Harry Kane flicked a ball into the box for Lewis Holtby, who split Jalil Anibaba and Zach Scott to get his head to the ball and nod it past Stefan Frei for a 1-0 lead.
Seattle nearly answered in the 13th minute when Osvaldo Alonso whipped a cross in from the right side for Clint Dempsey. Like Holtby, Dempsey split the defense and got his head to the ball, but put it just outside the post.
Sounders FC would get six more shots over the next eight minutes, but wasn’t able to equalize until the 33rd minute when Gonzalo Pineda converted a penalty kick to make it 1-1. Chad Marshall was brought down in the box during a corner kick to draw the penalty call, and Pineda lofted the ball down the middle with a Panenka-style shot to beat former U.S. National Team goalkeeper Brad Friedel.
In the 49th minute, Seattle grabbed the advantage when Osvaldo Alonso fired off a wondrous right-footed shot from distance that skimmed off the bottom of the crossbar and in for a 2-1 edge.
The lead was short-lived, though, as Roberto Soldado earned a penalty and then converted it himself in the 55th minute to even the score at 2-2.
Seattle broke through again in the 79th minute, this time getting a trio of youngsters involved. Aaron Kovar led Sean Okoli with a ball in behind the Spurs defense up the left side. Okoli carried the ball to the endline, then skipped a cross to Tristan Bowen, who tapped it in for a goal to put Seattle up 3-2.
However, a penalty again would undo the advantage. In the 81st minute, DeAndre Yedlin was whistled for a handball in the box and Yago Falque converted the spot kick, narrowly eluding the diving Josh Ford with a hard shot to the low right corner to make it a 3-3 final.
“I’m very excited for the team today. We showed character. We played good and we got a result,” Alonso said. “I think we showed today we can play at any level. We’ve got good players in the team and we can play with any team in the world.”
Seattle will carry that confidence into another Western Conference clash in nine days when the Galaxy comes to town. The friendly came at a good time in that regard because it keeps a hot Sounders team playing competitively on a steady schedule while it looks to maintain its lead in the Supporters’ Shield standings.
“We kept our rhythm and kept playing,” Schmid said. “We got the minutes in that we needed from our starters and were able to maintain our fitness.”
The draw marked the first time Seattle had earned a positive result against a European opponent in a midseason friendly. In five prior matches against Chelsea (twice), Barcelona, Celtic and Manchester United, Sounders FC had been on the losing side each time.