2011 Aug 13

Draw at zeros

Seattle Sounders FC  0 - 0  Chivas USA
CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA


Seattle: Kasey Keller; James Riley, Jeff Parke, Zach Scott, Tyson Wahl; Mauro Rosales, Osvaldo Alonso, Erik Friberg, Alvaro Fernandez; Pat Noonan (Nate Jaqua 69'); Fredy Montero (Lamar Neagle 83').
Substitutes not used: Terry Boss, Patrick Ianni, Servando Carrasco, Roger Levesque, Mike Fucito.

Chivas: Dan Kennedy; Zarek Valentin (David Lopes 73'), Michael Umana, Heath Pierce, Ante Jazic; Blair Gavin, Simon Elliott, Nick LaBrocca, Jorge Flores (Laurent Courtois 46'); Marcos Mondaini (Justin Braun 23'), Alejandro Moreno.
Substitutes not used: Zach Thornton, Ben Zemanski, Mariano Trujillo, Paulo Nagamura.

Match report from T. F. Smeeth:

If you read the paper or online travel advisories, then you were prepared for the downtown gridlock on the X-Box pitch at Century Link field, when the hometown boys only managed a scoreless draw with the visiting Chivas USA team scrambling from the bottom of the allbeit stronger Western Conference MLS table under coach Robin Fraser. The former Galaxy defender had his team peaked with only one loss out of seven coming into the inspirational atmosphere of 36,365 Seattle fans looking for more than the one point they got out of this seemingly unfair contest.

But Fraser didn't pack them in defensively. He let his team go for it.

The first half of Sounders FC Chivas USA was slow and testy going through a spread field of tight defensive marking but not without action and fair chances for both sides. The ebb and flow reflected an emphasis by coach Sigi Schmidt for quick pass and ball movement against the Northern Goats, the namesake of Mexican Premier League Guadalajara, in their first faceoff against Seattle of the MLS season.

The first quarter hour of mostly Seattle momentum was nonetheless sprinkled with Chivas chances. Argentine Marcos Mondaini got involved before his 23rd minute switch at forward to the hot American Justin Braun.

Keller made a save at the 15th minute mark off Alejandro Moreno, who came from Philadelphia Union, where former Sounder Sebastian Le Toux welcomed back Freddy Adu.

Seattle knocked on the door with Mauro Rosales leading the energetic home side.

The middle 15 minutes seemed to go the way of the visitors, especially after Alvaro Fernandez earned a penalty kick coming into the box from the left off a handle called against Michael Umana in the 17th minute. But his strong and well placed PK shot in the 19th caromed off the left post of the North End goal, bouncing off the back of goalkeeper Dan Kennedy and out for a corner kick.

In the 34th minute, Seattle seemed to get a goal off a muff by GK Kennedy when Fredy Montero alertly shoveled the ball into the back of the net. However referee Kevin Stott called a foul on Montero from 40 yards away which nullified the tally. Replays confirmed what was evident to the naked eye there was nothing evident to substantiate the call. No contact by Montero, just proximity. He was penalized for being in the right place at the right time and being proactive.

Any way you look at it, Seattle failed to convert their chances through the first half. Their defense stayed well organized with Jeff Parke and Zach Scott teaming to control the middle where Chivas mostly attacked.

It was LaBrocca who got into the box in the 40th minute but Keller came out quickly to smother the straight-away chance at his feet.

The key for Schmid was to quell MF Nick LaBrocca, who did manage to spark the Chivas attack but as Schmidt commented after the match, "I think we kept him quiet."

"Our goal was to have the whole team be aware of him on the field," said Schmid.

Mostly La Brocca had the full attention of Osvaldo Alonso who stayed as he started, mostly a defensive midfielder, freeing Swede Erik Friberg to advance in the middle with the ardent Argentine for Seattle, Mauro Rosales, and importantly Fermandez, the Uruguay playing with urgency. Ranging all over the field from their starting positions on the flank, the Seattle midfield created chances.

To a lesser extent Justin Braun was a defensive concern. Tied with a team high seven goals six on hat tricks, most recently against Houston July 23rd, Braun challenged the center of the Sounders defense.

The second half started with newly acquired MF Laurent Courtois from Grenoble Foot 38 of France replacing Jorge Flores, who had mixed well with Blair Gavin. Gavin got off the only Chivas shot on goal, leading to Kasey Keller's sole save in the opening frame. With that Chivas yielded the central attack and took to the flanks trying to sail one from the outside. Moreno withdrew to central midfield to greater effect. Working with La Brocca he and Braun got Keller more involved but nothing looked to score them a goal. Keller finished with three saves, to Kennedy's two. Highlight? Sounders FC need more than two shots on frame in any given MLS game to win. Although one getting past the other GK would have done the trick.

Seattle continued to attack but most of their chances were half chances. While many would claim a second penalty kick opportunity was overlooked by referee Stott, when Lamar Neagle of Federal Way penetrated the Chivas box from the left, the Brougham faithful cranked up their singing in anticipation of a Sounders goal forthcoming. A cross body block by the Chivas defense impaired his progress and it seemed a near miracle that Stott was only pointing for a goal kick instead of to the spot. Friberg demonstrated a prosecutorial appeal with too much zeal and far too long for Stott to ignore the call to caution, five such cards on the day, only two for Seattle.

It was another moment gone.

For Chivas, late entry David Lopes got a dangerous head onto a Cortois corner kick in the 79th. Positioned well, Keller made the easy save.

- Spotty Stott, wicked shot -

A Lopez turnover at midfield started a quick succession of passes by the Sounders, leading to the best opportunity of the afternoon from the run of play. Rosales to Montero to Riley swerving one in from the right flank, found Fernandez at the far post in excellent position. His shot called for the best of the night from GK Kennedy. Unspotted at the time, was an obvious shove by Umana that propelled Nate Jacqua into the path of Fernandez. That was the one Sigi Schmidt asked about after shaking hands with the officials at the end of the game.

In the end it was a frustration coming from not closing out good opportunities a PK taken but missed, and a PK, or two, not called. As well a number of Seattle looks were not converted -- Montero into side netting, being a key early example. Don't forget he had what looked to be a legitimate first half goal called back by the officials. His pass played Neagle into the box. He is creating offense for the team. But again, it was Rosales who stood out with his inventive and aggressive style of play.

- What stands out?

Overall there is team improvement evident in the game:

Having given several fouls created by the imagination of Chivas players, who managed to fall quite easily, Stott elected to make no gutsy calls late in the game that others may well have made as a matter of course.

But as Schmidt said in the post game conference, "It's not the ref. We had a PK and we should have scored."

The players echoed the sentiment and seemed to get on with the business of facing Communicaciones Tuesday night at C-Link in opening CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) group play, and then next Saturday when they travel to FC Dallas to take on the second place team in the Western Conference.

They will need to continue to pick up the energy, as well as finish off the good looks at goal they are creating. FC Dallas is an effective attack-minded team and will test the defense that earned the shutout draw on the afternoon against Chivas USA.

          SEA  CHV
Shots:     10    4
Saves:      3    2
Corners:    4    5
Fouls:     18   12
Offsides:   4    3

23' SEA: Wahl cautioned for a reckless tackle
34' CHV: LaBrocca cautioned for a tactical foul
45' CHV: Elliott cautioned for a tactical foul
80' CHV: Jazic cautioned for a reckless tackle
89' SEA: Friberg cautioned for dissent

Referees: Kevin Stott; Adam Wienckowski, Jason Cullum; Matthew Foerster

Attendance: 36,364

Postmatch Quotes

Seattle Sounders FC

Sigi Schmid - Head Coach

General comments: "I thought in the first half they were a little bit the better team. I thought they had a little more of the game in the first half. Obviously, we had a penalty kick that we hit the post on. That didn't help us. I guess penalties are like mulligans, you only get one per round. Once we used up our mulligan we weren't allowed another one. In the second half we came out a lot better and took away their passing game. We did a better job of possessing the ball and as a result we created some good chances. Kennedy came up with some saves. Some people were saving shots on the line and we didn't quite get clean hits on the ball. At the end it's 0-0. I'm proud of our defensive effort. I thought our defensive effort was good. We really only got exposed one time on the save that Kasey made in the first half on a nice little touch by Alejandro. Outside of that, I thought we were a lot better defensively. It just didn't go in at the other end."

On the non-call of a penalty at end of game: "I'm far away from it so it's tough to tell and I haven't seen a replay yet because something happened where our machine wasn't working. It looked like he got clipped but I'm not sure because I'm far away. There was that one. There was the one that I thought was really blatant was the cross. I forgot who hit it, maybe Rosales? The one where Nate Jaqua was at the back post and Umana basically took his entire body and arms and pushes him three feet and nothing gets called. I thought that one should have been called. It was pretty easy."

On what he said to referees: "You have to have a look at it and see what you think. I mentioned the other incident to him as well. We call a little foul on Friberg when he just touched a guy in the box and that gets called but when a guy gets moved three feet it doesn't get called. It's not the referring. We had chances to score. We had a penalty and we could have scored that one and we walk away today 1-0 winners. Eventually you have to score. I was happy that we were much better defensively."

On scoring against Chivas: "Maybe more snake bitten because it has been three different coaches so it's not like they play the same defensively. I thought we had opportunities. I think we opened them up a little bit in the second half especially. It just seems for some reason that scoring goals against them they're a little bit of a boogey team for us, a hard luck team."

On forward play: "I thought they did a decent job. I thought Noonan did a decent job holing the ball up with some combinations. I thought it was better in the second half than in the first. I Think Fredy Montero had a couple good looks. I'm sure he'd like to hit the ball again. The one that he put past the far post was a pretty good look for him. He usually hits that a little better. At the end, we went with Jaqua and Rosales up there to have some size and fresh legs on the flanks and keep Rosales, who I thought was our most effective player, there."

On play to stop Nick LaBrocca: "To be aware of where he was. Ozzie did a good job of that and when he pushed up high one of our defenders came over. I think we kept him pretty quiet for most of the game."

On Pat Noonan: "I thought he played well. I thought he played well against the Panamanian team, San Francisco. I thought he did some good things holding the ball up for us. He's a smart player. He needs to stay high. He had a couple chances in the first half on headers. He made some good slashing runs in there. Whenever you can get him on the field, it helps your team."

On Zach Scott: "Zach gives you endeavor and energy and effort. He's been solid about winning his aerial duals. It's about winning those 50/50 balls and Zach gives you that. If you can do that, it gives you possession of the ball and allows you to do things."

On O'Brian White and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado: "With Kennedy we wanted to wait a little bit. He'll be on the field Tuesday. With O'Brian White, there's a complication right now but we can't say because it hasn't been fully determined what the situation is yet. It's along the same lines as his prior injury but hasn't been fully diagnosed as to what it is or how to deal with it. The objective was to be cautions at this stage."

Kasey Keller

On the game overall:"It was solid, defensively, for the most part. Just a little bit of frustration because at the moment. We seem to either be playing well offensively and not so well defensively, or well defensively and not so well offensively. If we want to really make a run into the playoffs, we've got to be able to put them both together. We've got to be able to play on both sides of the ball. In games like this, we could see this game out two-nil, three-nil, which we're more than capable of doing. But in saying that, we haven't had a clean sheet in the league for a while, so that's a nice positive. But this is a game we should have won and we're frustrated because of that."

On the possible penalty that was waived off late in the second half: "That kind of stuff happens. That stuff is frustrating you know, but we had our penalty chance that we should have buried it, and multiple other chances. And multiple other half-chances that our final pass to the box was off today. It's got to be better. It's got to be better if we want to make a run in the playoffs. And on a day like today, we get our defense right, now we've got to put it all together."

Lamar Neagle

On what happened in the box that led to the PK not being called: "Nate played a good ball, and he was in the corner. He brought two defenders out with him and so I just cut towards the inside, got a good touch on it, beat my guy and then thought I beat the next guy. I took a touch by him and I think I got clipped. It kind of is what it is. Calling two PKs in a game... it's kind of rough. I haven't been known to dive ever in my life. I haven't practiced it or anything like that. What can you do? We still had a lot of chances we could have put away anyway. We had chances to win the game."

On whether the ref said anything to him after the non-call: "No. When it's kind of intense at the end of the game like that they're not going to say anything to excite the players or anything like that. It's understandable. You just kind buck up and support their call, which is all they can really do."

On the confusion after the play, when it appeared the ref was pointing to the spot: "Yeah, I thought so. I looked over and thought he was, so I got the ball and then started to run back. But then I saw my whole team going ... So I was like, 'what is going on?'"

On whether the Sounders expected to win this game: "Towards the end, we had the momentum and we were going at their goal. Whenever it's a situation like that, we're pressing to get a goal towards the end. We definitely had our chances. We had a few chances to get them. It's definitely possible. When I come on towards the end of the game, I'm just trying to run it. I'm trying to bring as much energy because I know everyone is pretty tired by then."

Pat Noonan

On how he feels, after getting his first MLS start since mid-2010: "Very frustrated. We deserved to win the game. The team deserved better. Offensively, I had one or two chances that I've got to finish. We've got a PK, maybe a second...The whole of play was shocking. It just wasn't clinical in the final third. I take a lot of responsibility for that."

On whether he feels he validated Schmid's decision to start him: "Of course. There's a lot of guys fighting for spots. I had chances tonight to finish opportunities and I didn't do it, so it's very frustrating."

Alvaro Fernandez

On not scoring: "We had very clear opportunities, even a penalty. Unfortunately, I couldn't convert it, but I'm happy that the team was able to create the opportunities."

On penalty kick: "I don't think the problem had to do with the strength. It was more about the direction. I shot right into the post, it bounced back on the keeper and out. That's how penalties go. It was not kicked that badly, but it cost us two points."

On Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy: "He was very good indeed. We created many chances and made him a character of the game. Merit to him. He played very well."

Chivas USA

Robin Fraser

On the performance of goalkeeper Dan Kennedy: "I just said to someone that I can't wait til we are not talking about Danny. Seriously, he was fantastic. He has had way too much to do at certain points throughout the year but has done his job superbly. As I watch him he gets better and better and his confidence grows more. Our team breeds off his confidence. We need to get to the point were Dan is the last person we are talking about."

On his team being energized after the missed penalty kick: "I thought we started off with really good energy. We had a few turnovers and at that point our confidence was shaken a bit. After that penalty we were re-energized. It was huge and in this arena with the crowd to be down a goal is a big. To get out of that without giving up a goal is fantastic. It gave the team new energy that helped us get through the first half."

On David Lopes making his debut today: "It was a difficult situation to put him into. In retrospect maybe it wasn't fair to him. Nate Jaqua had just been subbed in and we thought size for size it was a good idea to get him in on crosses that were coming. It is very difficult as a defender to come in on the second half and match the speed of the game. He played in the reserve game earlier in the week but he looks like he needs some minutes to get up to game speed."

On his team only having four shots on goal: "That is not a concern. It is poor execution. If we are not scoring goals and creating chances then I would be concerned. Today, we had some opportunities in the first half. Our final pass and final run just wasn't aggressive enough. We are not aggressive in the final third when we have only four shots."

On getting a point in a difficult environment: "Absolutely. At the end of the day given the fact that both teams played well at times, they created more dangerous chances than we did. Given all those facts I can live with one point.

Dan Kennedy

On having a busy day today: "I think more so in the second half. They stepped Friberg up and got a little bit of momentum. Thankfully, they didn't come with anything that we couldn't deal with."

On the team's response following the missed PK: "There will always be little breaks throughout the game that you need. That was one of them. When you're on the road you sometimes need things to go your way, with the penalty missed that was one of them."

On getting a hand on the PK miss: "We are going to have to look at the replay. I was pumped up on the play and was happy it didn't hit me and go in. I think if it was on frame I would have had it."

On his save in the second half: "The one off my knee? It was a really well played ball across in a spot where I tried to cut off the cross. Whoever crossed it was able to get it up and over me, which is tough to do and the best that I could do is cover angles and stay big. I didn't want to commit to anything til I saw the ball, fortunately that was enough."

On the play of David Lopes: "It is really hard to come into a game like that and a stadium like this as a defender and be successful...I thought he showed great composure. I think he will continue to get better and the speed of the game will continue to catch up with it more and more."