The Sounders FC appeared to have lightning strike twice at Qwest Field when it looked like a second-half stoppage time goal gave them a home victory. However, when Fredy Montero’s strike from 16 yards out with 90:00 on the clock brought the 36,219 in attendance to their feet, it also brought a whistle for a foul on Sanna Nyassi, negating the game-winner and leaving the Sounders FC with a 1-1 draw against the Columbus Crew.
Seattle got a 4th-minute goal from Steve Zakuani and dominated play for most of the first half, but a first-half stoppage time goal by Steven Lenhart equalized and that score held for the final result.
“I thought it was one of our more complete efforts of the season, for sure,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “From that standpoint I thought it was solid, but again, it was elementary mistakes on the goal. Lenhart’s their best header of the ball and to have him to be unmarked in the box is criminal.”
Much like a 2-0 loss to Toronto FC last week, Seattle got great movement in the offensive half of the field, but could only muster one goal from their 16 shots.
“It’s devastating not to win the game. But at least we are playing amazing football now,” Freddie Ljungberg said. “If we keep playing like this, we’ll get a lot of points this year.”
The Sounders came out running to start the game and Zakuani ended up on the right end of a ball from Ljungberg for his third goal of the season. Peter Vagenas played the ball to Fredy Montero in the midfield and Montero dropped it back to Ljungberg as he was being knocked to the ground by a Columbus defender. Ljungberg quickly flicked the ball forward for Zakuani, who was all alone with just William Hesmer to beat. He juked around the Crew goalkeeper and touched it into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead in the 4th minute.
“In the first half of the game, I checked the clock and there were three minutes in and I hadn’t touched the ball yet,” said Zakuani, whose goal was the fastest in MLS play for the Sounders FC. “I kind of wanted to find the ball and they stepped up high and beat the outside and I was just one-on-one. I just took it around him because he had space behind him and fortunately I got around him and got a goal.”
Seattle continued to lay the pressure and finished with seven first-half shots, but it was the Crew who would score before the halftime whistle. Danny O’Rourke came up the left side and lofted in a cross to Lenhart who found some open space for a run and headed in his first goal of the season to even the score at 1-1.
Throughout the second half, Seattle kept their feet on the gas, pressing the ball forward and generating scoring chances seemingly at will. Montero blasted a 41-yard free kick similar to the one he scored on in a 2-2 draw in Dallas last week, but missed high in the 60th minute. In the 67th minute Ljungberg took a shot from the top of the box that beat Hesmer, but bounced off the post and back off of Hesmer before missing just wide for a corner kick. In the end, they managed nine second-half shots, but none found the back of the net and they had to settle for the 1-1 draw.
“If you keep teams in games, you get punished,” said Sounders goalkeeper Kasey Keller, who finished with two saves in the draw. “We’re moving in the right direction. It’s close, but close doesn’t quite cut it. We’ll see what happens in the next few weeks, but I’m confident that we’re moving the right direction.”
Seattle is now 2-2-3 (9 points) and in fourth place in the Western Conference. Columbus remains unbeaten at 2-0-2 (8 points) and tied for second in the Eastern Conference.
The Sounders FC will host the Western Conference leading LA Galaxy next Saturday, May 8, at Qwest Field.
Sounders FC: Kasey Keller, James Riley, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Patrick Ianni, Leo Gonzalez, Brad Evans (Sanna Nyassi 66), Peter Vagenas, Osvaldo Alonso, Freddie Ljungberg, Fredy Montero, Steve Zakuani.
Crew: William Hesmer, Frankie Hejduk, Eric Brunner, Andy Iro, Danny O’Rourke, Eddie Gaven, Brian Carroll, Adam Moffat (Jason Garey 90), Robbie Rogers, Steven Lenhart, Guillermo Barros Schelotto (Jed Zayner 87).
Sounders FC: Steve Zakuani (Freddie Ljungberg, Fredy Montero) 4
Crew: Steven Lenhart (Danny O’Rourke, Eddie Gaven) 46+