2010 Jul 15

Keller shutout and Levesque late goal gives Sounders a win at DC

DC United  0 - 1  Seattle Sounders FC

RFK Stadium, Washington, DC

89' SEA: Roger Levesque (Fredy Montero, Sanna Nyassi)

DC: Troy Perkins; Jordan Graye, Dejan Jakovic, Julius James, Devon McTavish (Adam Cristman 81'); Chris Pontius, Clyde Simms, Stephen King (Branko Boskovic 72'), Andy Najar; Santino Quaranta, Jaime Moreno (Pablo Hernandez 56'). Substitutes not used: Bill Hamid, Carey Talley, Kurt Morsink, Daniel Allsopp.

Seattle: Kasey Keller; Leo Gonzalez, Jeff Parke (Tyrone Marshall 62'), Patrick Ianni, James Riley; Steve Zakuani, Nathan Sturgis, Mike Seamon (Osvaldo Alonso 73'), Pat Noonan (Sanna Nyassi 88'); Fredy Montero, Roger Levesque. Substitutes not used: Terry Boss, Zach Scott, Peter Vagenas, Blaise Nkufo.

Match report from Ron Stickney:

A late, diving header by Roger Levesque gave the Seattle Sounders FC a 1-0 road win at DC United, where the Sounders have never lost. Kasey Keller earned the shutout by making several outstanding saves while limping through the later stages after being injured in a collision with DC winger Andy Najar.

Levesque got the start after Nate Jaqua was scratched with a groin injury. Newcomer Blaise Nkufo was suited up on the bench but not used. His first minutes will come in the friendly with Glasgow Celtic on Sunday.

Seattle striker Fredy Montero made his presence known early with a couple of strikes from distance, the first going a yard wide in the 4th minute and his next forcing a bobbling save by Troy Perkins. Seattle had a double chance at 7 minutes when Pat Noonan, playing as the right midfielder, found Levesque open to the right of the penalty spot. Levesque misplayed his first touch but recovered to send a square pass in front of an open Steve Zakuani, who squandered his chance with a miskicked shot wide of goal. It was the best chances the Sounders would get until the 89th minute.

The 8th minute gave DC a great chance when Santino Quaranta, while falling, fed Najar's run up the middle for a golden opportunity. Najar shot low and Keller got down to block it right back past Najar. At 19' Keller dove for another fine save on a low shot from the arc by ex-Sounder Stephen King. A half hour into the match it was Najar's turn again after Seattle couldn't quite clear the ball from near goal, but with Keller well positioned Najar shot wide of the near post.

For Seattle at 35' Zakuani got close to goal after carrying the ball expertly to the 18 and working a give and go in tight quarters with Montero, but a few yards from goal Dejan Jakovic slid in to block Zakuani's shot wide for a corner. Seattle totaled 11 corner kicks in the match, all taken by Nathan Sturgis, but all were well defended by DC.

In the 39th minute Seattle center back Patrick Ianni was embarrassed when he badly missed the half volley on a high bouncer from the far end of the pitch, but he and Jeff Parke successfully mopped up the mess, leaving Quaranta on the ground feeling that maybe he deserved a free kick from the challenge by Ianni.

The 40th minute saw Levesque waste a counterattack chance for Seattle with a weak shot right to Perkins. Going the other way, Quaranta was robbed of a chance when he was flagged offside -- the replay showed that Quaranta had probably timed his break just right.

The last chance of the half was Jaime Moreno's from a pass by Najar, but James Riley pressured Moreno into shooting wide.

A 30-yard free kick gave Seattle a chance at 55'. Montero bent it around the wall and it tried to hook into the lower near corner but went an inch wide.

Seattle center back Parke had to sub out at 62' after being injured defending a ball aimed at DC newcomer Pablo Hernandez. Tyrone Marshall entered for Parke.

Then came a flurry of chances for DC. From deep in his own end Chris Pontius sent a long diagonal ball for Najar. Keller left the penalty area to defend, and while neither player got much of the ball Najar appeared to chop down Keller's trailing shin, leaving Keller injured on the ground. No foul was called, leaving Najar to collect the loose ball and feed a wide open Quaranta, who chipped a shot high on goal with two defenders guarding the goal mouth. Ianni got up to save the day, heading the shot wide of goal. The ensuing corner kick was taken by Quaranta and passed right back to him. He crossed it to the far post, where Hernandez headed it down and Keller got down to block the shot on the bounce. Keller got back up to block Hernandez' put-back header with an arm. Then the whistle blew, either because Hernandez fouled Keller's arm going for the loose ball or perhaps because Quaranta had been offside at the corner when the corner kick was played back to him.

Keller had to make another fine save at 77', using his fingertips to touch the ball over the bar when Quaranta shot from distance. Keller had another great save at 87' after Leo Gonzalez gave the ball away to Najar, who whipped in a cross for a shot by the other DC newcomer, Branko Boskovic. The shot deflected off a defender, making it a challenge for Keller.

The Seattle counterattack saw Zakuani touch the ball nicely past a defender in midfield to earn a left-footed shot from the 18, but he missed just wide of the near post.

89' SEA: Levesque (Montero, Nyassi). A minute after entering as a substitute, Sanna Nyassi stole the ball from left back Jordan Graye and took the ball to the top of the penalty area. Nyassi's diagonal pass to the right for Montero had too much pace, but Montero was outstanding in running it down near the end line and turning his body to bend a perfect cross over the defense and past the far post. Levesque eluded Jakovic to slot a diving header perfectly between the near post and Perkins, who was on the post to post route but couldn't get there in time. 1-0 Seattle.

DC's one last chance came in the first of 5 added minutes when they had a 30-yard free kick. Quaranta missed well wide on the free kick play.

           DC    SEA
Shots:     11     16
Saves:      7      5
Corners:    3     11
Fouls:     10     10
Offsides:   3      1

54' DC: James cautioned for a tactical foul on Zakuani
85' SEA: Gonzalez cautioned for a tactical foul

Referees: Alex Pruss; Cyril Madukanya, Brian Poeschel; Michael Kennedy

Attendance: 13, 716

Postmatch Quotes

Seattle Sounders FC

Sigi Schmid - Head Coach

On the game: "I thought we came out and we fought and we battled in the first half we had some chances, and I thought we had a little more of the game in terms of possession, and I thought in the second half D.C. picked up the tempo a little bit, you know - they had some chances as well, but we ended up getting a late goal. And we've been giving up some late goals, so it was nice to do the reverse this time."

On who was key to the win: "I thought the middle of our midfield, I though Nate Sturgis played well. I thought Michael Seamon played well. Alonso came on and did a good job on the new player D.C. brought in - Boskovic, so that helped us control the tempo of the game and Fredy Montero I thought was very, very effective tonight."

On the play of goalkeeper Kasey Keller: "Kasey made some great saves, and he's playing on a bum ankle. He can't kick the ball or punt the ball at the end, and that's why we held off so long on the last sub because we didn't know if we had to sub Kasey maybe, but then he felt he could get through it, and that's when be brought on Nyassi."

On D.C. United: "I think D.C. has had a little bit of hard luck because they've taken a lot of late goals as well. As they integrate their two new players - when they get Hernandez up to speed, you know because training with the team and playing in games is different. We had Nkufo here today but he needs to get used to it, I want him to see the game up close and so forth. But as those two [D.C. United] players come along, I think they could be a dangerous team. Najar is playing very well for them on the wing - he's a dangerous player, and Pontius I think is a dangerous player as well."

Roger Levesque

On how the goal sequence developed: "Just doing what we did all night long: putting pressure on them, getting ourselves in good positions. I'm not entirely sure how the build-up went. I know Fredy got the ball out wide, held the ball up, and made a great move, and whipped the ball across. It just got over their defender and all I was trying to do was put it on frame. I'm not even sure what minute it was, 85, 86th - something like that - and just hold on and get out of there with a win."

On the Sounders' success at RFK: "I think just getting off to a good start. Last year, the Open Cup final gave us a good feeling - the momentum we carried through after that obviously into the next week, and recently we've been playing well, or playing better at least. [We've been] trying to get ourselves in line going throughout the season and using this game as a momentum builder, hopefully we do that. I don't know if it's a specific stadium, or if it's just a matter of us taking advantage of the moment and it's unfortunate for D.C. that it's in this stadium."

On the win: "I thought we battled. I thought we fought today. Everyone fought for each other, and everyone was doing everything they needed to do: to defend, to attack, to keep the ball. Just doing the right things on the field - I think we showed a lot of heart, and getting that goal late was a full team effort. Kasey making some big saves off the line, guys clearing the ball off the line, it was just a complete team effort tonight."

Kasey Keller

On his injury and the win: "Someone said to me it kind of looked like my studs caught the right as we were coming in together. Either way, it didn't make we feel too nice, but you know the three points is everything - we're just so happy. We needed something to go our way. We've played well enough to win games, and we've given up late goals for draws, and it just felt good to keep that clean, and to win 1-0, and for Roger to pop up at the end. I tell you, it was hot as hell out there, man, and we're not used to that in the old Northwest."

On playing in the heat: "It's been a little bit warmer at home lately. We've still probably only trained a handful of times at over 70 degrees. But the Philly game [a couple of weeks ago] was a good learning curve for us. They were a little tired too, don't get me wrong, it's impossible not to be. Our attitude has been changing in the last three or four games, and I think we're definitely moving in the right direction. If you can play a game with this kind of humidity, against a team that likes to keep the ball, likes to pass it, and come away with three points, it's nice. It's nice to be able to do that."

DC United

Curt Onalfo - Head Coach

On the outcome of the game: "It's a game where I don't think we were particularly good in the first half, I thought we were much better in the second half. Having said that, we didn't finish our chances, we had a couple of good opportunities. And at the end of the game we pushed the game because we needed, in our mind, we wanted to get three points out of this game. We gave away a terrible ball to give away in our part of the field and we got punished."

On Hernandez: "I thought when he came in the game we moved the ball well but we had the game. If you look at the first half we didn't do well in possessing the ball. Second half we did a good job of that and he was a big part of it."

On whether the team is moving forward positively: "It's the grind of MLS; we took a whole bunch of steps forward, tonight we took a step back. Is it the end of the world? It kind of is in my mind a little bit but we've got to lick our wounds and just keep progressing. We have a big game at home against Galaxy, which is the best team in Major League Soccer at this point. And like I said earlier in the year, we have to learn from this stuff. It was a youthful error in the 87th minute that cost us the game and that happens - it's disappointing but we'll continue to get better."

On Andy Najar: "If you look at Andy's performance at 17 years old he's making runs in the 90th minute to create chances and the majority of our chances came from his side, so he was dangerous. We still need more composure in the final third, we have to do a better job of that first pass, that second pass, and that third pass."

On the first half: "I wasn't that pleased with how we defended during the first half, honestly. I thought that we gave them too much room, I thought they had some shots from distance. I thought we were just a little bit off. We knew that they were going to drop off a little bit, put a little pressure and we didn't do a good job at moving the ball quick enough and opening up and having better movement of the ball. It's not an easy thing to do on a hot night but it had to be better. Second half was a ton better there but Montero's a very good player, we know that."

Santino Quaranta

On losing late against the run of play: "Yeah, I think it's one of those things where you look at the game and it was a story of two halves. We struggled in the first half, but in the second half I never felt like we were going to lose the game. I didn't think we deserved to lose it to be honest. In the end, it was one break down, one mistake that [caused the loss]. We have to lift our heads up and move on, we have a couple of days here to get back at it on Sunday [against LA]."

On facing LA Galaxy on Sunday: "It's going to be a good one. I think every opponent in this league is difficult, especially LA where they are so dynamic up front. They are very good on the counter attack, and tonight we lost our shape a bit so we need to watch out for [counter attacks]. That said, in the end a mistake cost us - it just wasn't good enough."

On his attempt at an empty Seattle net: "I tried to chip it over. It is one of those things where you think, man I have been so close so many times, we're just struggling. I'm trying my best, but I'm just not scoring at the moment - I can't explain it. There are fingertip saves, balls bouncing off the bar, I don't know."

Stephen King

On losing such a close match: "Obviously we are disappointed. We know now the way things have gone, that we need three points, so especially for us this is very tough. You know in the first half, I thought we were lucky to come inside at 0-0, but in the second half we played a lot better. We knocked the ball around, we created a lot of chances, but soccer is a cruel game. We are disappointed not to get points out of tonight's game, but we have to get back to work tomorrow."

On recovering in time for LA: "You know I think it is better with such little time. You don't have a whole week to think about it and mull over it. I think it is a good thing to have another game on Sunday and to put this [match] behind us right away."

Branko Boskovic

On his D.C. United debut: "It's hard to say - I think we were unlucky, you know? We gave away a hard goal in the last minute, it was very unlucky. I think we must continue to work very hard, we must try to win the next game and forget this match. We have to prepare hard for the next game."

On the level of play in MLS: "The level everywhere now is high. Everybody runs well, you must be physically very good - MLS is the same. I need to keep playing, and I hope the next game physically I am much better."

Troy Perkins

On the loss: "It's tough - just a tough loss to deal with. I thought at times we looked sharp; we needed to put away our chances. At other times we were disorganized and we paid the price. It was definitely not a good way for us to end the match."