2011 Oct 8

Sounders crash to earth, are blanked by Philadelphia

Seattle Sounders FC  0 - 2  Philadelphia Union
CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA

60' PHI: Freddy Adu (Gabriel Farfan)
70' PHI: Brian Carroll (Sebastien Le Toux)

Seattle: Kasey Keller; James Riley, Jeff Parke (Patrick Ianni 46'), Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Tyson Wahl; Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso, Erik Friberg, Lamar Neagle; Pat Noonan (Sammy Ochoa 62'), Michael Fucito (Nate Jaqua 68').
Substitutes not used: Josh Ford, Zach Scott, Alvaro Fernandez, Roger Levesque.

Philadelphia: Zac MacMath; Sheanon Williams, Carlos Valdes, Danny Califf, Gabriel Farfan; Michael Farfan, Brian Carroll, Justin Mapp (Jack McInerney 86'), Freddy Adu (Amobi Okugo 75'); Sebastien Le Toux, Veljko Paunovic (Stefani Miglioranzi 90').
Substitutes not used: Chase Harrison, Kyle Nakazawa, Roger Torres, Danny Mwanga.

Match report from Ron Stickney:

The Seattle Sounders FC followed up their US Open Cup win by crashing back to earth, getting blanked by the Philadelphia Union while giving up soft goals to Freddy Adu and Brian Carroll.

The Sounders rested their three top offensive threats, letting Mauro Rosales and Alvaro Fernandez continue to recover from injury, while Fredy Montero was suspended due to yellow card accumulation. Sigi Schmid started an odd combination up top, Mike Fucito and Pat Noonan, and it did not work well.

The first half was unusually uneventful. All Philadelphia could manage for offense was a long free kick by Adu to Kasey Keller and a 30-yard shot up the middle by Veljko Paunovic that missed by two yards.

For Seattle, Noonan forced a save when he volleyed a shot from the spot, but he had to reach back for the cross and could not get much on the shot. Lamar Neasgle had a header on goal, but too softly. Brad Evans got the best chance of the half from Neagle's cross, but he skied the shot. Too many of Seattle's attacks ended with crosses within reach of goalkeeper Zac MacMath, a poor approach without a tall forward.

Seattle came very close at 52' when Evans' nice chip shot from the right end of the arc hit the bar near the top far corner, bounced down on the goal line, and jumped back into play.

A minute later Paunovic was open in the middle of the penalty area to receive a cross and head powerfully at the lower near corner, where Keller dive and made a one-handed stop. Ex-Sounder Sebastien Le Toux had a good chance when he was open in the area for a short pass from Justin Mapp, but he hit his shot softly and right to Keller.

60' PHI: Adu (G Farfan). Gabriel Farfan was isolated on the left against James Riley and dribbled into the penalty area, where he pushed the ball past Riley towards the end line. Riley tried to shepherd the ball out, but Farfan was able to slide feet first and drop a diagonal pass off the line to Adu in the goal area. Adu first-timed a quick shot over Keller into the ceiling. 1-0 Philadelphia.

70' PHI: Carroll (Le Toux). Philadelphia scored their insurance goal on a counterattack after a Seattle corner kick. Le Toux advanced the ball to the Seattle penalty area, drew two defenders, and sent a diagonal pass in front of the sprinting Carroll, who beat Keller with a shot to the lower far corner. 2-0 Philadelphia.

Seattle replaced their striker pair with Sammy Ochoa and Nate Jaqua, who make better targets, but still could not generate much in the way of shots. Osvaldo Alonso came close with a low 35-yard free kick up the middle. In the final minutes Neagle earned a couple of shots, but sent the first one a yard over the bar and the next one yards over the bar.

          SEA  PHI
Shots:     13    6
Saves:      3    3
Corners:    8    5
Fouls:      9   10
Offsides:   1    1

63' SEA: Neagle cautioned for a reckless high kick

Referees: Baldomero Toledo; George Gansner, Ian Anderson; Ramon Hernandez

Attendance: 36,304

Postmatch Quotes

Seattle Sounders FC

Sigi Schmid - Head Coach

Opening comments: "I thought especially for the first half that Philadelphia was the better team. It was sort of a strange game because I thought they really dominated the first half and we were still 0-0. I thought the second half was less so, but that's when they got the goals. I think they did well to finish their goals. Obviously we could have done a better job shielding the ball and we got caught on the counter on the corner because some guys were in the wrong positions, but it happened. For us it wasn't our best game. I know we've been through a lot as a team. I think we've had some emotional highs in the last two weeks and sometimes you come out a little bit flat, and they were a little bit flat today, especially in the first half, and we left it for a little bit too late. It just serves as a reminder that in this league everything is so tight that if you come and aren't wholly prepared to do all the work you need to do, you end up coming up short. Thankfully that's not our normal operation style so we take what it is. We'll take it on the chin and we'll learn from it."

On if they can use this as a lesson for a run in the playoffs: "I think at the end of July we went to Houston and we lost a game there 3-1 and everybody was like, 'Oh geez, woe is me,' and we had a pretty good run after that so to serve itself again. I played on a team at UCLA where we used to kill everybody all the way through the playoffs. We didn't know what the pain of losing felt like and then all the sudden we get to the playoffs and we lose the NCAA title game because we had never gone through that pain of losing. So sometimes the pain of losing is the best motivator of all."

On losing their top three offensive players tonight to suspension/injury: "It was a hard one. Fernandez got cleared late yesterday, so he really hadn't gone through a full training, so he hadn't trained since Tuesday. It's sort of ironic we've lost two guys with concussions in the last two games -- there was a foul called on the one in Chicago but there was no foul called today. We can say, 'OK, we were missing those guys,' but we had enough people on the field. We had enough people who could do it. We just had too many people who didn't have a good game."

On Jeff Parke's status: "We had to pull him at halftime because they felt he was concussed. So we've got to see from here."

On Pat Noonan getting the start: "Well, we wanted to keep the same sort of balance up front. The way we play is we have the one forward high and Fredy finds his space underneath. Noonan is more comfortable doing that. At the end we went with just the two big guys up front, so the thing was to try and keep us in a rhythm. But again, like I said we had too many guys with bad games so we never got into a rhythm."

On if it hurts not getting the Supporter's Shield for best record in MLS: "It always hurts, but at the end of the day what's most important is to win the MLS Cup. You look at who won the MLS Cup last year, Colorado. Did they win the Supporter's Shield? No. Who won MLS Cup the year before? Salt Lake. Did they win Supporter's Shield? No. So maybe winning the Supporter's Shield isn't all that necessary to win the MLS Cup and at the end of the day that's our goal."

On Beckerman being out before what's looking like a first-round playoff matchup against RSL: "Obviously it gives him some time to rest, so that might be on the plus side for them. But he's getting a couple of national team games so he's going to stay in game rhythm. He's played enough games this year to stay in rhythm and he'll be highly motivated when the playoffs come around. We have to deal with Salt Lake. It's not just Beckerman. That thing can go either way. It can either be a plus or a minus. It depends on how he reacts to it."

On the goal by Freddy Adu: "I think Riley was trying to shield the ball going out of bounds. The referee was pretty liberal in terms of allowing you to shield and disregard the ball, and Riley got too close to the ball as he was trying to shield and Farfan tips it through his legs and it just goes past Ianni. So everybody sort of relaxes because they expect the ball to go out of bounds for a goal kick because he's shielding, and then he pokes it through and everybody was a little late reacting. So it was an opportunistic goal."

On Evans: "I don't think he was any different than everybody else. I thought Keller came up with a huge save in the 53rd minute that looked like it was going to keep us in it for awhile, but I don't think there's anybody you can point to on our team and say they had a good game or a game that they normally have."

On the crossing: "I don't think our crossing was real sharp. A lot of them were lollipops, so you could come out there and it was like picking grapes -- you could just run out there and catch the ball. Too many of them were too close to the 6-yard box and they were hung up in the air too much. So we made it a little easier for him than it needed to be."

On what he thinks is the biggest difference between this year's Philadelphia team and last year's: "I said in preparation for the game that they've just solidified themselves defensively with the addition of Valdes, the addition of Brian Carroll and the addition of Mondragon when he's in goal. Those are three guys out on the field that are all defensive players and that's helped them. They play a 4-5-1. They play very conservative and they try to pack the midfield and they hope to spring Sebastien for an opportunity here or there. Even though they had possession on us in the first half they really didn't have any real clear, quality chances. In the second half, but obviously they converted on the chances that they got."

Brad Evans

On the game being a let-down game after Tuesday: "No, I don't think so. That's not the excuse, just coming out slow the past couple games seems to be the case. If we play with half the intensity that we did in the second half, then we come on top. We came out slow, that's the bottom line. We absorbed pressure. I mean they had good possession but they weren't dangerous. They didn't get any good clear opportunities in the first half. When we did get possession we didn't connect enough passes. That's the name of the game, I guess. They got two soft goals. We gifted them two and that was it."

On if not having Montero, Fernandez, or Rosales put pressure on others to score: "Nobody even thought about it, I don't think. Whoever is in is expected to score. It is what it is."

On the goals: "The first one (Gabriel Farfan) just beats him down line. (James Riley) was trying to shield it out of bounds and he just gets unlucky. (Farfan) sneaks around him and takes him out at the same time. Freddy makes a good run on it; he was anticipating it a little better than we were and he puts it away. The second one we just pushed too many guys forward trying to get that goal a little too early. I think it was too early in the game to be pushing forward with that many guys. They caught us on a counterattack and a little mis-clearance. We gifted it to them."

Kasey Keller

On the game: "It was just one of those bad days. Everyone can look at whatever excuse you want to come up with, but at the same time, we just weren't good enough. We have to hold our hands up and say, 'That's not good enough and let's get that out of our system,' and now we're able to get on with our season."

On if the team had a letdown game after Tuesday: "That's all part of the game. As a professional, you have to be ready for stuff like this. You have to be able to compartmentalize your season. You have to say, 'OK, Tuesday night was great. Now I have to get ready for Saturday.' You're going to have a lot of time in November, December, January to go celebrate or commiserate on what you did for the last eight months, so it's frustrating for everybody. Obviously we had a lot of fans go home that weren't happy; everybody leaving this locker room isn't going to be happy. We can't, I think, just push it under the rug and say, 'OK, that's a bad day.' We have to still accept that it's not good enough and be ready for next weekend and the weekend after that and then get ready for the playoffs. Looking at what some teams have done below us and maybe chucked it in a little bit, but other teams are fighting for their playoff positions. But we're too good for that. We have too good of individuals, too good of a team as a collective to just say, 'Alright, don't worry about it, we're in the playoffs and we'll do whatever' because we're better than we are today."

Mike Fucito

On team's first taste of disappointment in a while: "Just looking at myself, I wasn't good enough tonight. I can improve my performance. You try not to have letdowns, but we had one. Now we have to deal with it, look at what happened and improve. And we will. Sometimes it takes a game like this to wake a team up. While we would've liked to have won our games out, it's better to lose now than in the playoffs."

Do you subconsciously put more pressure on yourself with Montero, Rosales and Fernandez out?: "I don't know. Every time you're just trying to go out and make a difference in the game. I thought I started off slow. I think our team started off slow. Just wasn't good enough."

On losing out on the Supporters' Shield: "We wanted to stay in rhythm and we wanted to put ourselves in a position that if L.A. did mess up we wanted to be there. We feel we could've won out -- that was our goal. We're disappointed in our performance and it means the Supporters' Shield is not in the cards anymore."

Philadelphia Union

Peter Nowak - Head Coach

On controlling the ball most of the match: "In the first half we couldn't figure out a way to break them down in the final third. I think we made a couple of adjustments at halftime and it worked out well. We tried to push the game from the outside."

On the differences in coaching a team in year two: "On the first game we played here we spent a lot of time with the team, the expansion team hoping for the best. You never know what will come out. We spent three weeks in training camp and it just wasn't enough. During the season you get used to each other to my training method, tactical, everything. Today the players understand the concepts, the tactical concepts, how they prepare themselves. I think this team is completely different than the one here 18 months ago."

On the Freddy Adu addition to this team: "I think it was the right move for him to come back. I know him very well and he knows me very well. He knows how to approach the training methods and how to be a part of the team. For a couple of weeks he was injured and we didn't try to push the envelope. We knew he would come back and he did and I think he had a strong game. I think he needs to be a little bit more involved, I give him a lot of freedom out on the field. In the second half he figured when to attack in, when to be a play maker. I think the goal is fantastic for his confidence and for his future."

On the lessons Freddy Adu learned on his travels through Europe: "I told him seven years ago when he joined D.C. United that what we are trying to do here is kindergarten compared to what he will face in Europe. Over there the coaches, players, travel, media all different than here. In his first year he had four or five coaches each one with different styles. Sometimes those coaches won't talk to a player or explain anything. I think he learned the hard way and it is good to have him back and scoring goals for us again."

Freddy Adu

On coming up with a big goal: "That goal was all Gabe it was just great work down the line. As a professional player we were taught to always go to the near post when the ball is down the line, to try to get in front of the defender. Low and behold the ball popped up right were I was."

On getting a good strike on the ball for his score: "Yeah, I was falling down and I had to concentrate on getting a good foot on it. The only place I could hit it was going up, trying to hit the ball to the roof of the net. I knew Kasey was there but when you're falling down you want to hit the ball as hard as you can."

On the environment at CenturyLink Field: "The environment, amazing, it is my first time playing here in an MLS game. It is amazing; it has a very European feel to it. The surface is something different, I don't really enjoy playing on turf but we all have to play on it and adjust to it. As you saw a couple of passes got away from us and you really have to concentrate on your passes and shots. I thought we did a great job."

Sebastien Le Toux

On getting a win and back into first place: "It is huge win for us to get it here, especially after the Sounders U.S. Open Cup win. To come on out into the west and get a win is a big confidence boost for us. It is big win for us to be on top in the East."

On the positives coming out of tonight's win: "We were consistent, and coming up with some big stops in the middle and through the first half. In the second half, we had a few occasions to score when we had our chances."

On being able to finish in the second half: "The surface here is pretty fast and some of the players have not had an opportunity to play on it. In the second we were more confident with the ball."