2010 May 22

Sounders blanked at home again

Seattle Sounders FC  0 - 1  San Jose Earthquakes

Qwest Field, Seattle, WA

1' SJ: Chris Wondolowski (Bobby Burling, Brandon McDonald)

Seattle: Kasey Keller; Leo Gonzalez (Pat Noonan 76'), Tyrone Marshall, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, James Riley; Steve Zakuani, Patrick Ianni, Nathan Sturgis, Sanna Nyassi (Miguel Montaņo 62'); Freddie Ljungberg; Fredy Montero. Substitutes not used: Terry Boss, Tyson Wahl, Jeff Parke, Osvaldo Alonso, Roger Levesque.

San Jose: Joe Cannon; Ramiro Corrales (Brad Ring 89'), Jason Hernandez, Bobby Burling, Chris Leitch; Bobby Convey, Brandon McDonald, Andre Luiz, Joey Gjertsen (Steven Beitashour 55'); Chris Wondolowski, Ryan Johnson (Scott Sealy 69'). Substitutes not used: Jon Busch, Ike Opara, Arturo Alvarez, Cornell Glen.

Match report from Ron Stickney:

The Seattle Sounders FC earned a wealth of chances, including 18 shots, but nobody shot well enough to finish a goal. Chris Wondolowski scored an early goal for the San Jose Earthquakes and it held up as the match winner.

First Half

San Jose looked best at the start of the match. Five minutes in Bobby Convey shot first from a long free kick, clearing the bar by a half yard.

11' SJ: Wondolowski (McDonald, Burling). San Jose earned a corner kick when a free kick bounced dangerously in front of goal and was sent over the line by a defender. The corner kick was rejected, but Convey sent it back in and it was headed on first by Brandon McDonald, then by Bobby Burling, the ball ending up near the far post where Wondolowski was waiting alone to tap it in. Wondolowski was actually offside when the ball came to him, but no flag was raised. 1-0 San Jose.

The Sounders came to life after a quarter hour, with Sanna Nyassi taking his side's first shot from the right edge of the penalty area to force Joe Cannon's first save. Freddie Ljungberg broke free of three defenders in the penalty area to roll a drop pass in front of goal, giving James Riley a good chance when he ran onto it, but the shot was not struck well and was blocked. Midway in the half Steve Zakuani turned the corner on the left and received the ball for a shot that was deflected out for a corner. Leo Gonzalez ran onto a cleared ball and shot too high. Zakuani got around the corner again for a shot from 15 but Cannon was well positioned to block it. It was a good 15 minutes of attacking, but the needed goal did not come.

The last few minutes of the half saw Zakuani spring Nyassi on the right for a shot with only Cannon to beat, but Nyassi missed the far piost by two yards. Then from the same place Zakuani came closer but still missed by a half yard.

Second Half

The Sounders had a good five minutes to open the second half. Riley's cross was just over Fredy Montero's head on the doorstep. Nathan Sturgis headed a shot from a Ljungberg corner but it was blocked near goal. Montero's cross from near the goal gave Jhon Kennedy Hurtado a chance at a flying header on the doorstep, but a defender cleared the ball just in time.

At 57' San Jose had a rare shot when Wondolowski powered it up the middle and just missed the top corner.

Seattle came close at 67' when a shot by Zakuani was redirected by Montero and touched just wide by Cannon. Substitute Miguel Montaņo got his first chance from a cleared corner kick and wasted it too high. At 72' Ljungberg's 25-yard free kick up the middle missed the top corner. Two minutes later a quick Montero shot from distance was struck well and Cannon did equally well to parry it for the save. At 79' Montaņo fed Sturgis open at the top of the arc but he wasted the shot too high.

Seattle's best chance was their last chance at 86'. Zakuani was close to goal on the left to cross to Montero in front of goal, who laid back a short pass to Montaņo. With a generous portion of open goal in front of him, Montaņo bent the ball the wrong way, missing the top far corner by an inch.

           SEA   SJ
Shots:     18     6
Saves:      0     5
Corners:   11     3
Fouls:     11    12
Offsides:   2     1

34' SJ: Johnson cautioned for sliding under Gonzalez
78' SJ: Convey cautioned for pushing Ljungberg down from behind

Referees: Alex Prus; Paul Scott, Jeff Hosking; Ramon Hernandez

Attendance: 35,953

Postmatch Quotes

Seattle Sounders FC

Sigi Schmid - Head Coach

Opening Statement: "I thought we started off the game poorly. I thought our first 10 minutes were very poor. We allowed them to get into a rhythm of play and establish themselves and gain their confidence early. Their goal came out of that sequence as well. Then we woke up and probably had more of the game but having more of the game doesn't mean crap. At the end of the day we lost 1-0."

Post-game message to team: "I think we all need to look inside ourselves and ask ourselves why it takes 10-15 minutes before we start playing. We have to look at ourselves as to why we spend game time to argue insistently with referees. We've got ask ourselves, if a guy hits a bad pass, why we throw up our hands and stop playing for a second? I think we need to ask ourselves why sometimes if we lose a ball, we don't react right away and make a second effort and third effort, because we always want to do it on the first effort. Just all of us, that includes staff, that includes players, we need to ask ourselves why we can't do it better? Last week in New York, we were a good collective and I thought in the final 70 minutes we were a decent collective, but yet you can't take 15-20 minutes off. It's like if you go into a movie, you can't every four to five minutes close your eyes for 30 seconds and shut down your ears and not listen. At the end of the day, you don't know what the movie's about any more. I think we lose the plot in the game because we shut down. It's little things, you have Steve Zakuani outside with the ball for a throw-in and he had his shoulder surgically repaired so he can't really throw the ball in yet no one comes over and says, maybe I should throw the ball in for you because you have a bad shoulder. Patrick Ianni has the shortest arms on the team and they want him to throw the ball in. It's little things like that tell me you're not 100 percent in tune and that's what we've got to look at."

On lack of home field advantage this year: "It's like I've said before, when Crew Stadium opened in the first year and it was the first soccer specific stadium, the Crew didn't have a great record at home because everyone got so excited about playing there. I think every team comes in here and is excited about playing here. It's different for them, it's not the atmosphere they have at home. For them it's a thrilling, exciting experience and that sometimes works against us. But on the same token, our fans have been supportive of us and have been behind us and I think it is what it is. We have to overcome that as well. We have to turn it in to a difficult situation for the teams coming in."

On status of Hurtado: "We don't know yet."

On 18 shots, zero goals: "There's only three shots on goal and that's also disappointing. But they did a good job of packing in the middle, we told them they'd have to get around them on the outside, sometimes I think we tried to force it down the middle when we needed to go wide. But that's what we talked about all week. On the same token, you've got to force saves, you've got to put shots on frame. The ball that bends into the upper V counts just as much as the one that goes through the goalkeeper's hands. When the LA Galaxy scored their first goal against us that goal counted the same as the great header, which was their second goal, they both count a point. So we have to make sure we force goalkeepers to make saves. We've got to put our shots on frame, we've got to force more saves. Eighteen shots is great, but only three on goal was not good enough. Some were blocked for sure, that might have been on goal, and you have defenders saving balls for them, there were a couple that the goalkeeper saved that might have gone in, that were blocked by defenders. We're going to read in the referee's report that their goal was offsides and shouldn't have counted, I'm tired of hearing that in the referee's report. I'd rather have the referee return the favor to us in the second half. Things right now are certainly not falling our way."

On mood of players: "Obviously they're disappointed and they realize they're not happy with what we did, but none of us are happy with what we did at this stage."

On guys who throw their hands up, Freddie being one of those - is that an issue when your leader is involved with that: "If throwing his hands up motivates him and makes him work harder, it's not an issue. But if arguing with the referee takes away from time that you could be helping the team than it is an issue. As a leader, he's got that responsibility on his shoulders to help guide the team. He needs to look at it and say, hey, can I do that better? Can I be better at that because it certainly doesn't help our team."

On if Jaqua's presence will improve things when he returns: "Certainly having a big body in there helps it. People that understand soccer saw a little of what Evans provides for us as well, just his hard running and opening up spaces, and things like that. Although I thought Montero worked a lot harder today and made some of those runs but Evans' are just a little more definitive, a little harder and having a body in there will help us. But there were a lot of people who weren't happy with Jaqua last year when he played, but the heart grows fonder when you're not out there. It's a matter of, we've got to finish what we start. We start a lot of things and we don't finish them. And we've got to finish what we start."

On possible changes: "We're looking at all those options. Ours is a league where you have to subtract before you can add. There are a lot of guaranteed contracts. It's not like your European team or your South American team and you say, we're going to take our roster from 24 to 25 or 26. You don't have those options. There's not stones we're going to leave unturned. There's nothing that we're not too proud to look at and there's no player that we're that - if we can make our team better, we've got to look at that option."

Good or bad to have a friendly this week: "It's probably just good to get back on the field and play again. As a player when you have a game like that, you just want to play, you don't want to listen to the coach at practice. For us right now, we have to improve our concentration level and make sure that it's there for 90 minutes, all the time, that's the big thing."

Steve Zakuani

On the game: "I think the game was lost in the first ten minutes. They came out and we gave them too much time. I don't think we touched the ball in the first ten and then they got their goal and after that we decided to play. When you give a team a goal on the road, it becomes tough. So then we were chasing the whole time. Again, it's the same story, create chances but didn't finish. We had some very good chances. I had one in the first half. We had a few in the second half. We just didn't finish them. Something has to change and I don't know what it is. You can't win one week and lose the other week, that's too inconsistent. We need to go on some sort of run and we need to figure out a way to do that."

On scoring troubles: "The hardest thing to do in football is to score. We have to find a way around it. We weren't very anxious, we were patient. We played our game. Honestly, I don't think we had a bad performance. Take the first ten away, the last eighty minutes we played well. We moved the ball but if we don't score, everyone forgets that."

On moving forward from this game: "We are not going to panic. We won last week and lost this week. It's just the inconsistency is bothering us. Once you find consistency, it will be OK. Honestly, we aren't even half way through the season yet and a lot can happen between now and October and November when the playoffs come around."

Kasey Keller

On reaction to game: "This is not something for me to criticize or to make judgments. This is something that, right now, we have to leave in the hands of the coaching staff and the backroom staff to see what direction they want to go with it. They are extremely disappointed. Obviously the players are extremely disappointed. For us individuals, it's just about getting to training and see if we can work that little bit harder, that little bit smarter. I think I said a while ago that I kept feeling that this corner was going to be turned but at some stage there has to be some accountability."

On the start to the game: "I was very disappointed. We didn't clear the ball when we needed to clear. We let them put pressure on us. We let them get themselves into a game. They looked like the home team...In saying that, we created enough chances to win this game comfortably. It's not super doom and gloom. I think if you're going to watch the game on tape you would see that we easily had enough chances to win this game but when things are going wrong, they are going wrong. For myself personally, it's just get to training on Monday and work hard and prove to the fans, prove to the coaching staff and ownership that you want to be at this club."

Freddie Ljungberg

On Sigi Schmid's postgame speech to team: "I think mostly we were a bit not on it in the first ten minutes and we made a mistake and it cost us dearly. I think after that, the rest of the eighty minutes, we were on it and we fight and we don't score a goal. But the main message was we need to switch on from the beginning. We can't let them get the advantage at 1-0. Like everybody has seen, teams bunker in after they get a lead here and it makes it ten times harder to play."

On frustration with not scoring: "That's just the way it is when you don't score. We are creating a lot of chances but we can't put the ball in the net. That's a frustrating thing but that's how football is sometimes. Not meaning to repeat myself, but I think that's why they got Blaise. That's his job, to put the ball in the net."

San Jose Earthquakes

Frank Yallop - Head Coach

On his team achieving four consecutive shutouts: "I think the team is having the mentality of not conceding a goal. It runs through the team that we don't want to get beat and we don't want to get scored on. Seattle should have scored a goal, but they didn't and I guess that is a little bit lady luck at the moment. We had a good team effort and strong character out there today."

On playing so consistent this season: "We have worked since the preseason and we tried to do it last year, but didn't have the horses to play the way I wanted to play. I feel we have the right personnel to play the way I want us to play. We can tinker with it a little bit here and there, but everyone is buying into it. We are not going to be a pushover and not be scored on easily or give up silly goals. To get four clean sheets in a row is tough in this league."

On playing in a tough atmosphere at Qwest Field: "It is a tough crowd and you maybe get a little anxious to play in front of 35,000 people. The Sounders will do well at home and score goals. The atmosphere is terrific and the players played well today. They did everything but the final touch."

On enjoying coming in and playing in front of a large crowd: "We did today. Last season not so much. We have a good mentality on our team and it doesn't matter where we go. We played well for 20 minutes and that was probably about it. We gave up a few offensive chances and made some mistakes on defense. Zakuani probably should have scored in the first half. All in all, we got the three points and the win."

Bobby Convey

On being excited to play in front of a large crowd: "First and foremost I think it's unbelievable for soccer in the U.S. for what the ownership has done here. It is amazing to play in front of this many people. Every player no matter home or away takes the energy from the crowd. I think it helped us early on."

On the crowd affecting the players: "If you get booed yeah, I think the people here are really supportive of their team. For me there is nothing wrong with the people here; they are enthusiastic about the game. The owner has really set a great standard for the rest of the MLS to follow."

Joe Cannon

On his team improved level of play this season: "I think it is the blue collar collective outfit of the entire team. From a personal point of view, it's more enjoyable this year because we are not result orientated, more task orientated. This group is a lot easier to work with because of their attitudes. For the group they are just blue collar and for me all I can do is give my best. In years past I would try to carry the team on my shoulders, now we can play well as a team and compete."

On Seattle pressuring at the end to score: "There were a couple of times that Seattle got close today. There was a ball that just missed the top corner by a few inches. If that goes in we are still the same team. We know we can go anywhere, this is probably the toughest place in the league to get a result."