CARSON, Calif. -- The Sounders FC were sick of drawing games. After five straight ties, though, a 1-0 loss to Chivas USA was not the result they were looking for.
Eduardo Lillingston scored the game’s only goal, in the 38th minute and, despite dominating possession most of the game, Seattle couldn’t find the net and left the Home Depot Center with just their third loss of the season.
“I thought we did more, over the 90 minutes, than they did,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “In key moments maybe we need to do a little bit more so we finish some of those chances. I thought through the first 80 minutes they really had one chance, and ended up scoring a goal, and we ended up losing the game.”
The Sounders controlled the tempo nearly from the opening whistle and got two shots off in the first two minutes. Though he finished the game with three saves, it barely showed the pressure put on Chivas goalkeeper Zach Thornton, who was constantly coming off his line to punch a ball clear or grab a pass through the box.
Throughout the first half, Seattle was getting the ball into the offensive third, but couldn’t find the finishing touch.
Then in the 38th minute, Maykel Galindo and Justin Braun got deep into Seattle’s defense on the left side of the box. They got a shot off and Seattle goalkeeper Kasey Keller knocked it away, but it went right to Lillingston in front of the net for a one-touch goal, giving Chivas USA a 1-0 lead.
“It all stemmed from just not being ready on the quick throw,” Keller said. “It’s been a little bit of a problem of ours that we kind of switch off once in a while on throw ins and quick set pieces, and that’s something we need to clean up out of our game because we’re just giving away too many chances on opportunities that shouldn’t be opportunities.”
For all of Seattle’s control of play, it was Chivas who had the next great opportunity when Galindo, who played for the Sounders in the USL after defecting from Cuba in 2005, got his foot on a cross from Paulo Nagamura, but his shot popped over the crossbar and the lead held at 1-0 in the 55th minute.
Then in the 59th minute Jhon Kennedy Hurtado attempted to head a free kick clear but his clearance went straight to Atiba Harris coming up the left side. He pulled Keller away from the net and chipped a shot over his head, but Hurtado recovered in time to clear the ball off the line.
The Sounders meanwhile, got cross after cross, but couldn’t get someone in the right place to knock a shot home and left with the 1-0 loss, their first defeat since dropping 2-0 to Chivas at the Home Depot Center April 18, a span of six regular season games and two US Open Cup play-in games.
“I thought we played extremely well today, but sometimes this game’s not fair,” Keller said. “I was proud of the way we played, I thought we deserved more, but you make your own luck and we needed that little bit of quality and it let us down. They had two-three chances and they put one away and that’s the game.”
Adding salt to the wound of the loss, Nate Jaqua received two yellow cards in the game and was sent off in the 88th minute and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado was issued his fifth yellow card of the season in the 81st minute. So neither player will be available for the Sounders next match, a home tilt with the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday at Qwest Field.
“Right now we’re not catching any breaks; we’re not getting any breaks in terms of whistles, we’re not getting any breaks in terms of the ball bouncing our way a little bit,” Schmid said. “But you also make your breaks so maybe we just have to work a little harder at key moments.”
The loss drops the Sounders into a tie for third place in the Western Conference with the Colorado Rapids at 4-3-5 (17 points). Chivas USA extends their lead in the West with a 8-2-3 record (27 points).