2011 Oct 15

Late win supports Kasey Keller retirement party in last home match of the regular MLS season: 64,140 in attendance

Seattle Sounders FC  2 - 1  San Jose Earthquakes
CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA

24' SJ: Chris Wondolowski (Rafael Baca)
82' SEA: Sammy Ochoa (Mauro Rosales)
87' SEA: Fredy Montero (Lamar Neagle, Brad Evans)

Seattle: Kasey Keller; James Riley, Patrick Ianni, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Tyson Wahl; Alvaro Fernandez (Sammy Ochoa 68'), Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Lamar Neagle (Zach Scott 90'); Mike Fucito (Mauro Rosales 64'), Fredy Montero.
Substitutes not used: Bryan Meredith, Erik Friberg, Roger Levesque, Pat Noonan.

San Jose: Jon Busch; Steven Beitashour, Bobby Burling, Jason Hernandez, Justin Morrow; Simon Dawkins, Sam Cronin, Brad Ring, Rafael Baca; Chris Wondolowski, Khari Stephenson.
Substitutes not used: David Bingham, Chris Leitch, Jacob Peterson, Joey Gjertsen, Maxwell Griffin, Matt Luzunaris, Ellis McLoughlin.

Match report from Ron Stickney:

The final home match of the regular MLS season drew an amazing crowd of 64,140 to celebrate Kasey Keller's retirement at the end of this season. Only two MLS matches have drawn more, LA's first ever MLS match at the Rose Bowl in 1996 (69,255) and David Beckham's first MLS match in New York (66,237).

Keller had to work hard before partying, making seven saves. Chris Wondolowski scored midway in the first half and it held until the final ten minutes, when Sammy Ochoa's first MLS goal and a match winner from Fredy Montero gave the party the win it needed.

The Sounders were putting shots on goal early. From a corner kick play in the second minute, Brad Evans' header was on goal and cleared by the man at the far post. Lamar Neagle worked a sideways give and go for a shot from 20 yards, aimed right at goalkeeper Jon Busch.

Then San Jose took the momentum. Rafael Baca's long shot up the middle at 8' forced Keller's first save. When Evans hesitated to put a ball out, Wondolowski got a shot near goal and missed the near post. Khari Stephenson's long blast had to be blocked wide by Keller.

24' SJ: Wondolowski (Baca). When a ball was sent to San Jose's front line for Wondolowski, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado got there first, but his attempted clearance went right to Baca, who immediately put a pass through for Wondolowski. Patrick Ianni was late to react and Wondolowski danced in alone, then put a low shot past Keller. 1-0 San Jose.

At the half hour mark Seattle had a golden chance when Montero's quick throw-in to Evans was crossed through the goal area. Busch got fingers on it, but couldn't stop the cross. Mike Fucito nearly got to the ball as it went by the empty net.

San Jose had the last chances in the half. Simon Dawkins received a cross goal side of his marker and from the left end of the arc blasted a shot a yard wide of the near post. Wondolowski headed a cross nicely down, and Keller did well with a leg save.

San Jose continued to look best early in the second half. Dawkins had a good look from the 18 but skied the shot. Wondolowski had a good look from inside the penalty area but hit it right at Keller. Then he netted on a free kick play, but the referee had said to wait for the whistle, and the retake was taken by Keller.

Just past an hour Neagle appeared to be sprung up the middle, but could not control the ball.

Keller's "save of the week" candidate came at 65'. Ianni's weak attempt to play the ball to Keller was easily claimed by Stephenson. Keller stopped Stephenson from rounding him, but the ball went to Wondolowski for a shot and Keller made a fine leg save. The rebound was fired back in by Dawkins for another Keller save, then he had to scramble to knock the rebound away as Wondolowski tried to shoot again.

Mauro Rosales and Ochoa subbed in for Fucito and Alvaro Fernandez, and Seattle's attack got a bolus of epinephrine. Rosales crossed from the touch line to Ochoa for a header near the far post, but he couldn't aim it down. Another Rosales cross was headed hard but wide by Montero.

82' SEA: Ochoa (Rosales). Rosales served a long through ball to spring Ochoa. San Jose players wanted offside, but later viewing of the video showed that the defender on the opposite side had Ochoa onside at the moment that Rosales sent the pass. Ochoa's timed run was perfect. Ochoa was in alone and beat Busch with a nicely taken low shot that rang the near post and then hit the opposite side netting. 1-1.

87' SEA: Montero (Neagle, Evans). With Seattle pressuring outside the penalty area, San Jose was about to clear the ball when Ochoa sneaked in to knock it to Evans in the middle. Evans quickly passed ahead to Neagle at the top of the arc, and he hit an open Montero with a crisp diagonal through ball. Montero took his shot well, beating Busch to the lower right corner from 15 yards. 2-1 Seattle.

Keller had to make one last save as the clock reached 90'. From a long free kick, Bobby Burling outleaped his marker to head a shot at the top shelf from 8 yards, and Keller did well to catch it overhead.

Following the match the great majority of the crowd stayed to see Keller honored for his outstanding 20-year professional career.

          SEA   SJ
Shots:     13   14
Saves:      7    1
Corners:    3    5
Fouls:     10   19
Offsides:   3    0

6' SJ: Morrow cautioned for a tactical foul on Fernandez
40' SJ: Ring cautioned for tripping Alonso from behind
48' SEA: Ianni cautioned for deliberately handling the ball
57' SJ: Hernandez cautioned for a charge from behind

Referees: Michael Kennedy; Kermit Quisenberry; Bill Dittmar; Hilario Grajeda

Attendance: 64,140 (record for a Sounders MLS match)

Postmatch Quotes

Seattle Sounders FC

Sigi Schmid - Head Coach

Opening comments: "First half wasn't our best half of soccer. I thought we gave away way too much space in midfield. We needed to control the middle part of the field. That was a big thing we talked about at halftime. I thought we did a better job of that in the second half. Certainly you could see the impact that Mauro has on our game. When he came onto the field, he just changed our whole dynamic a little bit. It was great to see Sammy Ochoa get his first goal in a Sounder uniform and I thought Fredy Montero finished his goal very well. Not to neglect, certainly there were some great saves that Kasey made throughout the game tonight that really kept us in the game and gave us the opportunity to win the game in the last 10 minutes. Not our best night but again we showed our resiliency and our character in being able to come back and pull out a win at home."

Was that one of Keller's best games?: "Shoot, there's so many. I mean, obviously that game he played for the national team against Brazil that night in L.A. was one that ranks up there as one of the best all-time for any goalkeeper. But he's played so many outstanding games for the Sounders that you sort of, as a coach, sometimes you almost go, 'OK, it's expected,' but you can't ever become complacent. You can't ever expect it. Big goalkeepers make saves at crucial points of the game and they don't give up generally soft goals and that's what Kasey does. He makes saves at important junctures of the game to keep us in it and that keeps us in the game. He was able to do that for us tonight and he's done that numerous times."

On the reaction to the go-ahead winning goal by Montero: "I know I was elated. I think everybody else was elated. Certainly, when you look at our sport -- I've said this -- sometimes people say, 'Soccer, it's not (exciting) enough.' How can you say a game like tonight wasn't exciting? Games like tonight just grip you. I was definitely elated.What was it tonight? Like 120,000 people went to watch football but I think a few more came to watch the European version. We're happy about that, but it was pure ecstasy and knowing that we were able to fight back and come back, and that our character and our resiliency was still there. It just made me elated."

Kasey Keller

Opening comments: "For me, with all of the anticipation for this game and knowing there was going to be a huge crowd, I'm not one who really likes to take focus. I like to just be a team guy and make the team happen. This was the most nervous I've been for a game since the World Cup because I just didn't want to disappoint. I just wanted to be able to come out and help the team win the game today, so I'm just so proud of the guys to not quit, to keep going. We've done it so many times this year that once again, you definitely don't want to leave this stadium early because we're going to make things happen at some stage of the game. It might be a little bit late but we'll make it happen. I'm just proud of the whole franchise. By no way could I have imagined, or Sigi, or Adrian, or Joe, or anybody, that three or four years ago when this thing got rolling that we would be at this stage right now where we are. Huge credit to everybody from obviously the ownership group, the coaching staff works tremendously hard, the players, the fans -- they just keep coming out. We have an Open Cup game and 20,000 non-season ticket holders show up on a Tuesday night. I'm just humbled. I'm humbled not just for what the club has done for me and given me the opportunity to come home and finish my career back home in something that is just so incredibly special. You can ask my friends who were able to fly out, guys who've played around the world and they just can't believe it. They just are so proud of what's going on here in Seattle and I'm just proud to be a small piece of it."

On late in the game when he stopped four consecutive chances: "Like I said, I just hoped I could play today and help the team get a result, because I don't want to see 64,000 people go home disappointed. I want them to go home and say, 'That was a tremendous experience.' Take away all the motorcycles and Drew driving in on a quad -- that was pretty cool, that was worth watching and then Zach Scott yelling I should take the other showcase. I'm happy with the showcase I got. This club is something special and like I said I'm just so proud to be a part of it and was able to help with what was the most important thing for tonight, and that was the result. Because like Sigi has said and Adrian, we still want five more games this season -- six actually if you count the CONCACAF game -- so we've got a lot left and there's no reason that with the resilience that this team has that we can't have a good time left."

On the emotions of the night: "Somebody was asking me the other day, 'When is it all going to sink in?' I don't think it will truly sink in until the end of January when everybody's getting back together for preseason and I'm realizing that I'm not for the first time in 20-some years. If you count college soccer, that's a long time ago. This isn't the last game. I'm used to a European system where the last game is the last game but now it's playoffs and you don't know when it's going to be and let's hope it's in November in L.A. That's what we're all hoping for because I think we would sell out Home Depot Center on our own. I think our fans would fly down and be there, so I'm excited for that prospect."

On what's next for him: "Chivas, next weekend. (laughs) It's going to be interesting to sit down at the end of the season and figure that all out. What I didn't want to do was focus on something before I was done with something else. And that's truly the way I've always tried to approach this thing is, 'I'm going to have a whole lot more years when people don't want me to play than when they want me to play,' so while I'm playing focus 100 percent on the job at hand and then when the time comes we'll sit down and get that side of things taken care of. I'm not one of those guys that's said, 'I definitely want to be a coach,' or 'I definitely want to go into media,' or, 'I definitely want to go back room.' I'm interested by a lot of things and I think what I'd love to do is wear a bunch of different hats and see which one fits right. I'm looking forward to that next step in the game."

Are you upset the defense gave you some work or happy you were able to shine?: "No, no, no. I would have much rather preferred to sit here, have us win 4-0 and I sat back there and took a few goal kicks. That would have been the ideal game for me. I think what we're trying to achieve is to get ourselves in good form for the playoffs and confidence comes with results. Coming out of last week's game, we don't want to go into the last game at Chivas having lost two games at home and having that. So the focus is all on being ready to go for the playoffs and if I am called upon to make a couple saves, that's my job. Do I prefer that I don't have anything to do? Of course, but sometimes you have to do your job."

On over 120,000 people watching American and European football in Seattle today: "Well, I had a lot of friends that went to both games and that just shows you the way that sports are perceived here in Seattle and the U.S. I'm a fan of football. I watched college football today in my preparation for the game. I also watched a bit of the Chelsea game this morning, as well. That's just the way we are. We understand that there's a lot competition in this country and I'm one of those guys who enjoys that. There's no reason why we can't have our own little piece of the pie, and actually a lot bigger piece because the sport's growing and growing. I'm just proud to have been able to be a part of it from the beginning and now I'm more than happy to go to a football game one day, go to a soccer game the next day, go to a baseball game, go to a basketball game - that's called being American."

On what he attributes his successful career to: "Well, I think every successful person regardless if they're a businessman, whatever they're doing, they don't like to lose. I think sometimes they understand that it's inevitable and it's going to happen. I work just as hard in practice not to lose a five-a-side. I go home angry if I give up a bad goal in training, because I know if I give up a bad game in training then I have a good chance of giving up bad goals in games. So it's all that whole process and really it's an internal drive to try to be as good as you possibly can be and to help your team win, knowing that sometimes you're going to make mistakes and how do you bounce back? Sometimes you're going to have the best of days and then how do you come down from that? Because tomorrow this game's over. Tomorrow we're in for practice, Monday we're in for practice and then Tuesday we have a (CONCACAF) Champions League game and next weekend we have another game. Yeah, the Open Cup game was great but we've had two games since then. Now we've had this game. So, it's how do you manage all of that? I think the best thing I've done for that side is I think the more consistent you are off the field as a person, the more consistent you'll be on the field. If your life is all over the place, how can you expect your career to be steady? I've been extremely blessed with a great family life, with a great wife and kids who when the phone rings and, 'Guess what? We're moving to Germany.' 'Okay.' 'Guess what?' 'We're moving to Spain.' 'Alright.' 'We're moving back to England.' 'Yeah.' 'Guess what, kids? We're back, now we're going back to England again.' It wasn't like, 'Oh man.' It was like, 'Cool, there's the next adventure.' So I can't thank them enough for being that huge support system and that's been a big, big reason for my success as well."

Sammy Ochoa

On getting first goal with Seattle: "It feels good. I think the first one should start having them coming in slowly, but I was getting a little worried about not getting the ball in the net."

Crowd wasn't big enough for ya: "(laughs) There was a lot of people here. I've never played with so many people in the stadium. It was nice, and it was nice getting a goal in the (last regular-season) home game of Kasey's. It was fun and thank god we got the win, too."

How important was it to win with so much going on?: "I think it was really important. We didn't want to lose at home. Since he lost the last game against Philly, we didn't want to lose any more games at home. To get this one was big. Plus we had the thing going with Kasey, so it made it better."

On if he checked if he was onside after scoring the goal: "No, I didn't really check. As soon as the ball went in, I just ran. I didn't see the linesman. I was standing near the ref and everybody was running towards me so I was like, 'It's a goal.'"

Did you see the ball hit the post?: "I saw it. When it hit the post I was like (gasp), then I was like, 'Thank God it went in.' Happy to get the first goal."

Fredy Montero

On getting the first goal: "It was good timing. It wasn't a pretty game or a good game for us, but at the end of the day, we have three points. That's the most important thing for the game tonight."

On the large crowd: "It was just amazing. It was my first time playing (in front of) that many people in a regular MLS game. Thanks to all the fans for their support and coming here for Kasey's last game."

On if the crowd felt different than some of the friendlies: "Yeah, for sure. We had all those people screaming for us. When we played against Man U, obviously at least half of the stadium was rooting for them. This was something special. I feel so proud to be part of this team and to play next to Kasey Keller."

On the goal: "It was a perfect assist from Lamar. I was behind defender, (I took two touches) and I just wanted to shoot on goal. Fortunately for me it went into the net. We have three points and we are really happy about it."

Brad Evans

Any pressure to win tonight with so much surrounding the game?: "I don't think anybody felt pressure; we just wanted to win. It is what it is. Sometimes you win games where you score two goals in the first minute, sometimes you score two goals in the last couple minutes. You saw that with Chicago tonight and D.C. The goals are going to come at anytime and we know that we can score at any point in the game. We're a 90-minute team. That's something we didn't have last year, that's for sure. Last year at this time we probably wouldn't have pulled out the victory tonight. There's something to be said for that. We played until the end. As far as pressure goes, I think everybody wanted to enjoy it as much as possible. I don't think it was pressure."

What was playing in front of 64,000 fans like?: "Yeah, it's interesting because the way that the lights are, when you look up you cant really see the fans that are up there. You can hear them, it's definitely a lot louder, but you can't really see them with just the way that the lights are situated. But after the game obviously you could feel it. It's absolutely incredible. It'll be interesting to see next year how many we can get throughout the season consistently."

San Jose Earthquaes

Frank Yallop - Head Coach

On his thoughts regarding the match: "I'm not sure we could play any better and not be two up. We didn't get the second goal and that changed everything. It is the story of our season; we had good ball movement and created some chances to score the second one. I haven't seen the play [Seattle's first goal] but the boys said he was offsides. But we have to play as mentally strong as we can in those late stages. Maybe it was offsides, I will have to take a look at it. It is frustrating to play well and to get nothing out of the game."

On Kasey Keller coming up with some very big saves tonight: "Yeah, he did. I think he had a couple of moments where we hit it straight at him and should have picked a corner. I'm on the sidelines and can't see the angles, but I can't fault our boys for their effort. It is frustrating we can't seem to finish games out; the way the unit played tonight I was happy with that. I was disappointed we didn't get a point out of it, if not three. Seattle is a strong team til the end and they got their points. I thought the way we played was a credit to us for digging in, but obviously it is about winning and scoring goals."

On Chris Wondolowski having a scoring hot streak: "He started the season out well and had a little bit of a dry patch in the middle of the year. He is a goal scorer; he has 15 goals this season, no penalty kicks. That is a good tally for anyone in any league, not just this one. He is a good player. He is dangerous around the goal and when he gets a good chance he usually scores. I think in the second half when Keller saved it I was expecting him to make it. All in all he has done very well this year."

On the team coming out with a little more focus with having the opportunity to play in front of the largest MLS crowd: "Even if it's 40,000 it is a big crowd. I think our guys were up for the battle. If you look at the game as a whole we played well, overall we weren't outplayed. The two plays cost us the games, I haven't seen them so I can't comment on them. It is frustrating to come away with nothing."

Chris Wondolowski

On Kasey Keller coming up with some big saves tonight: "He made some really good saves and that is something he has done for a number of years now. He is a great goalkeeper."