2009 Sep 26

Sounders falter after quick lead at New England

New England Revolution  2 - 1  Seattle Sounders FC

Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA

6' SEA: Fredy Montero

51' DC: Shalrie Joseph (PK)
87' DC: Joseph (Jeff Larentowicz, Wells Thompson)

New England: Matt Reis; Darrius Barnes, Emmanuel Osei, Kevin Alston, Jay Heaps; Steve Ralston (Kheli Dube 21'), Shalrie Joseph, Jeff Larentowicz, Wells Thompson, Sainey Nyassi (Kenny Mansally 66'); Edgaras Jankauskas (Pat Phelan 69'). Substitutes not used: Nico Colaluca, Amaechi Igwe, Brad Knighton, Chris Tierney.

Seattle: Kasey Keller; Leo Gonzalez (Stephen King 90'), Tyrone Marshall, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, James Riley; Steve Zakuani (Roger Levesque 69'), Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Nate Jaqua; Freddie Ljungberg, Fredy Montero. Substitutes not used: Terry Boss, Patrick Ianni, Peter Vagenas, Tyson Wahl.

Match report from Ron Stickney:

The Seattle Sounders FC got off to a great start, including an early strike by Fredy Montero, but could not manage another goal. New England Revolution tied it on a questionable penalty kick and won it with a late goal, both tallies from Shalrie Joseph.

Montero and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado wore black armbands in memory of two players, friends, who died in a car accident in Colombia the preceding weekend. Sebastien Le Toux was left out of the match day squad because of the flu.

First Half

Seattle came out of the starting gate strong, their first chance when a corner kick was headed by Nate Jaqua off a defender's shoulder and a yard wide.

6' SEA: Montero. The first goal came from an amazing strike by Montero from the right touch line about 35 yards from goal. He used a feint to get by his marker, took a couple of touches down the line, and with two defenders closing in he took a sudden shot that seemed to change direction halfway there and drop to hit the bottom of the crossbar, bounce off the turf, and hit the ceiling of the net. Goalkeeper Matt Reis seemed fooled by the shot, just standing there three yards from the goal line as the ball went over his head and in. 1-0 Seattle.

Unfortunately for Seattle, that was their last shot on goal until the closing moments of the match. New England took their first shot at 10' from 25 yards and it went wide, then Edgaras Jankauskas powered a shot from the same place, just barely wide.

At 21' New England sent in Kheli Dube for Steve Ralston, who injured his knee when landing after a challenge in the air.

New England attacked best the rest of the half. At 22' Dube tried a long blast and just missed the top far corner. At 37' Sainey Nyassi's nice cross was headed a yard wide of the far post by Jankauskas when he had a good look at goal.

Jankauskas wasted an opportunity to get on the scoreboard at 41' when he received a long ball and thought he was offside and hesitated. However, James Riley had retreated enough to put Jankauskas onside. Tyrone Marshall swept in to clear the ball wide before Jankauskas could get off a shot.

Sainey Nyassi had the last chance of the half, volleying wide from a broken free kick play.

Second Half

50' NE: Joseph (PK). An unfortunate referee decision gave New England a penalty kick, which Joseph converted to the left side just out of Kasey Keller's reach. Just inside the penalty area Leo Gonzalez had put his arm up to protect his face and Dube's attempted cross hit the hand. The referee's decision was a real gift to New England, who had been unable to beat Seattle's defense up to that point. 1-1.

A Seattle free kick on the hour chime was taken from the top right corner of the penalty area by Freddie Ljungberg and it gave Hurtado a great chance with a header, but he put it over the bar, which he always seems to do with his headers.

Play was balanced for the next 20 minutes, but New England got the only good chances. A nice attack resulted in a pass laid back to Dube for a 15-yard shot up the middle, and Keller dove left to make his first save a fine one. At 69' Jay Heaps fed Kevin Alston in between two defenders for a shot with only Keller to beat, but he shot just over the bar.

At 74' Dube appeared to turn nicely for a good shot, but was whistled for taking the ball down with his arm.

At 85' a New England counterattack ended with substitute Kenny Mansally shooting from 20 yards, but it was an easy save for Keller.

Seattle came close at 86' on a long free kick by Ljungberg that was headed across by Hurtado and biked just wide of the far post by Montero.

87' DC: Joseph (Larentowicz, Thompson). At the other end, a cross from the right by Jeff Larentowicz found Joseph open for a header, and he beat Keller nicely inside the far post. Joseph ought to have been offside, but just before the cross Riley had suddenly retreated from the offside line to put Joseph just barely onside, just like Riley had done for Jankauskas in the first half. 2-1 New England.

Seattle managed just one chance in the closing minutes, when Ljungberg bounced an easy shot to Reis for his only save of the match.

The final minute saw Jaqua pick up a yellow card for an elbow in the back while challenging for an air ball, meaning that he will miss the next match due to accumulation.

           NE  SEA
Shots:     14    6
Saves:      1    2
Corners:    5    4
Fouls:     13   10
Offsides:   1    2

66' NE: Thompson cautioned for holding Zakuani
90' SEA: Jaqua cautioned for an elbow in the back

Referees: Steven DePiero; Joe Fletcher, Thomas Supple; Lee Suckle

Attendance: 15,961

Postmatch Quotes

Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid

On the penalty:
"If the referee blows the whistle, it's a penalty. Doesn't matter whether it is one or not - he blew the whistle."

On the momentum shift after Steve Ralston came off the field:
"I thought Dube came in and gave them a little bit of life. It's a situation where they're desperate, they're at home, they pushed the tempo of the game. Getting the penalty kick early in the second half was certainly a shot of adrenaline for them and we made a mistake at the end of the game. We got caught ball-watching and that's unforgiveable."

On the space the Revolution was finding in the second half:
"I'm disappointed with not marking up on Shalrie Joseph either and it was something you could see coming. We know the guys who are going to head the ball in, and you've got to mark sure you mark up on those guys. We fell asleep."

On the last 15 minutes of the game:
"I thought from about the 70th minute on, we were starting to get ahold of the game again and I thought we would catch one at the other end of the field. But, obviously, we made a mistake to lose it."

On what changed after the quick start:
"Nothing really. Obviously what changed was New England's mentality. They became a lot more energetic, a lot more desperate in their work. They were very aggressive; they were very tight to our players. A lot of 50-50 balls were falling their way. We weren't getting any calls, as well, but give credit it to them, because they were very aggressive in their marking and as a result, they started to turn the tide of the game."

On the team's performance:
"I wasn't disappointed with our aggressiveness. I thought we were defensively as well. New England scored a PK and Shalrie Joseph scored a header. I mean outside of that, I don't think Keller had a whole lot to do. Most of the shots they had were from outside and distance. I think they had an open look in the first half where somebody was open, had an open header in the box, and I think they had a good shot coming through in the second half, but we had some opportunities where we were close. Our thing is that we still have to be better at pulling the trigger in the box. We still seem to want to have five yards of space before we want to shoot and we've got to be able to shoot with guys draped on us."

On Fredy Montero's goal:
"It was a great goal. It was a wonderful strike and probably goal of the week - and should be one of the goals considered for goal of the season. But it was a great strike."

Seattle goalkeeper Kasey Keller

On the second Revolution goal:
"The second goal we just lost concentration. I mean, you're marking one of the hardest guys on the field and he just ends up being wide open from 10, 12 yards out for a simple header, which just shouldn't happen in the 86th minute...If he had kind of rose above somebody and slammed it, fine. But to be wide open in that spot at that time or at any time of the game, especially Shalrie...If it was maybe an outside back that somebody didn't mark - but at that point he was actually playing striker, so it wasn't even a case where the midfielder didn't run with him. It was just a mis-concentration and problem and something that just shouldn't happen."

Seattle forward Fredy Montero

On his 6th minute goal:
Through a team interpreter: "It was different feeling because it was a long shot - a long distance - and I was not expecting it to go in. But it was amazing the way the ball kind of curled in the air and it went in."

New England head coach Steve Nicol

On the game:
"At this stage of the season, it's all about results and points. We can complain that we didn't start the game well again. We backed off Montero, who's been scoring goals from that distance all season, so basic errors in the first half particularly were causing us positional stuff, and just generally giving the ball away. Probably 20 minutes in, from then on we carried, took the game to them. We weren't particularly inventive, but we still managed to be committed and put them under pressure. And that's why we won the game."

How Steve Ralston's absence affected the team:
"Up until then - to be honest - we were fast asleep. We keep talking before the game about starting well, and we said before it's easy for everybody to talk about it - and we didn't do it. So, we've fought ourselves out of a big hole, which shows the steel of the team, but we're not always going to get away with starting slow."

On the timing of the penalty kick:
"We needed a break. The commitment, effort was there. Like I said, we weren't particularly inventive, but we got a break. It was definitely a handball. But that kind of pushed of forward. The header's a fantastic goal. It was a great cross and a magic header. You won't see a better header all season. That's why proper strikers get paid a lot of money - it's not easy."

If Joseph can be considered a striker now:
"I would argue with that after that header."

On what Joseph brings to the field:
"Goals, assists, work rate...you name it, he's got it."

On the importance of the win:
"Not winning tonight would have made a big dent in the rest of our campaign, but we got three points and we'll march on."

On moving Joseph up to forward late in the game:
"We needed some strength and height. After with (Edgaras Jankauskas) coming off with a groin injury, we needed some height there, and the logical choice was to move Shalrie up and put Pat in there to shore things up from behind."

New England midfielder Jeff Larentowicz

On his assist on Shalrie Joseph's second goal:
"Shalrie was open, that was it. The ball came back to me; I played it to Wells and he played it back, I had time to pick my head up and Shalrie had gone in and pulled his run back out. I just floated it to him."

On the team responding after a slow start:
"We've started poorly at home and we've given up early goals. I guess around the 15th or 20th minute we finally start to kick in. I don't know what's wrong with us. I don't think it was Steve's injury. We were encouraged when we came in (at halftime); we came back out and got the goal early in the second half. We got together as a team and said to keep the pressure that we had in the first half, so I don't think we were upset that we didn't get [a goal] in the first half."

On owning the possession edge:
"It's a do-or-die situation: we treated it as a game that we had to win. We gave ourselves 45 minutes and we said we had to go out and do it. Seattle is a team that is playing on the road and traveling cross-country, and they're a speed team. They like to get forward. They are good with the ball, but we put our stamp on the game playing at home."

New England midfielder Shalrie Joseph

On the victory:
"It was a great team win. It was huge. The sad part now is Steve Ralston; hopefully it's not too serious. Everyone's focused that hopefully we can get him back as soon as possible."

On his penalty-kick goal:
"We wanted to get the equalizer real early in the second half, and after we got it on a PK we just kept pushing and pushing trying to get that winner. They're a great team in their own right; they kept the ball and created chances. Our defense was huge for us."

On his second goal of the match:
"Jeff played me a great ball and I wanted to put it in the corner. There was one guy in front of me and I saw him clear out. Then I just wanted to stay onside and there was one defender behind me, and Jeff just played a great ball. I just wanted to put it on target and put it in the corner, and once I saw Kasey in the middle, I picked out my corner."

On Seattle's defense after its first goal:
"I think even if they had scored two, we still would have been all over them. As I said, we came out with the attitude that we have to win that game no matter what, and giving up that early goal on a great strike by Fredy kind of shocked us. We picked ourselves up and started going again and starting attacking and pushing numbers and created chances...We got a win late and that's all that counts."

On gaining momentum before a road-trip:
"It's huge. Getting three points tonight was huge. We knew we needed to get three points because we're going to have a tough game in Colorado and in Dallas, and we have to take care of business. No matter where we play right now, we know that the playoff picture is coming around and we need points no matter where we go."

Other match reports: