SEATTLE - Disappointment was the name of the game Saturday night at Qwest Field.
The Sounders FC had their opportunities, but couldn’t break through the New York Red Bulls defense and when they could, Bouna Coundoul was there to stop them in their tracks.
“At the end of the day that’s the way soccer is more so than any other sport. I thought we had some good opportunities. Coundoul came up with a couple of big saves,” said Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid. “I’m not displeased with our effort. I’m not displeased with our ability to get forward. But I am displeased with our ability to finish.”
All told, Seattle outshot New York 17-10, landed a team-record 12 corner kicks and had numerous free kicks in dangerous positions. But New York came away with the win and the three points because Macoumba Kandji was able to knock in a misplayed clearance for a goal in the 21st minute and the Red Bulls left the Sounders and the 36,066 in attendance wanting with a 1-0 loss.
“I'm extremely disappointed obviously. We had our chances to level it up and get back in the lead and we just couldn't take advantage of it,” said goalkeeper Kasey Keller, who tallied three saves in the losing effort. “It's frustrating, we're all extremely frustrated but I don't think you can fault the guys' effort. Everyone worked extremely hard and it's a frustrating day.”
The Red Bulls were the aggressors in the game’s opening minutes, but Seattle quickly turned the tide, taking control of play from that point forward. In the fifth minute, the Sounders first tested Coundoul. Fredy Montero unleashed an initial shot that was deflected away by the New York defense, only to have the ball fall to Brad Evans. The midfielder’s second effort, though, was smothered by Coundoul for the first of his five saves on the night.
The teams traded possession and opportunities until Kandji opened his account for the season. New York took a corner kick from the left side and the ball was deflected down to Leo Gonzalez at the left post. Gonzalez attempted to clear the ball, but it spilled right to Kandji. He lifted it over Keller and off the underside of the crossbar and into the net for the 21st minute goal.
“We just didn't clear a ball. They were whipping some good balls in the box and we didn't quite clear it. It was a very opportunistic goal. A good goal all the same.”
The goal sparked another Sounders attack, but Coundoul kept the ball out of the net. First the New York keeper parried a rocket off the foot of Steve Zakuani over the bar, then he knocked down a header at the post, both leading to corner kicks for Seattle.
“I think you saw last week (in a 2-0 win over the Philadelphia Union) that once you score one it is easy to get a second one,” Zakuani said. “We created some very good chances. That's a good sign. I think we played better this week than we did last week actually and against a better team. But they got one goal from the one clear chance and after that I think it was one-way traffic but we couldn't manage to score.”
Seattle continued to get the ball forward and even brought on newcomer Pat Noonan to try to spark some offense, but to no avail. The 71st minute saw another opportunity narrowly miss when Freddie Ljungberg swung in a free kick from the right side, bouncing it to Tyrone Marshall for a header on the far side, but he knocked it wide and the Sounders remained a goal down.
Ljungberg found Montero at the far post on a free kick in the 81st minute, getting a good bounce on a Coundoul mishandling, but he was able to recover in time to grab the ball before Montero could volley it past him.
“It was one of those days where if one goes in, two or three were going to go in,” Schmid said. “But we needed one to go in first.”
In the 83rd minute, Schmid brought David Estrada for Gonzalez, reforming to a 3-5-2 to try to grab some more offensive flow, but still couldn’t find the final spark.
“We did enough work to make (something) happen,” Schmid said. “You gotta roll the dice sometimes.”
Seattle returns to training on Monday after taking Easter Sunday off. Next on the schedule is a road tilt with Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday.
NOTE: New York was playing without head coach Hans Backe, who was hospitalized with chest pains the morning of the game. He was cleared to return to his hotel room to rest, but was advised by medical staff not to coach in the game. Assistant coach Richie Williams, who served as head coach for the game, said afterward that Backe was fine and would return to training with the Red Bulls next week.
Sounders FC - Kasey Keller, James Riley, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Tyrone Marshall, Leo Gonzalez (David Estrada 83), Roger Levesque (Pat Noonan 56), Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso, Steve Zakuani (Sanna Nyassi 76), Freddie Ljungberg, Fredy Montero.
Red Bulls - Bouna Coundoul, Jeremy Hall, Mike Petke, Tim Ream, Roy Miller, Dane Richards, Seth Stammler, Joel Lindpere, Sinisa Ubiparipovic (Danleigh Borman 79), Macoumba Kanji (Conor Chinn 89), Juan Pablo Angel.
Sounders FC - None
Red Bulls - Macoumba Kandji 21.