Tampa Bay Sports Day

Seattle reprises 2-1 victory over DC United

DC United’s hopes of a return to the MLS Cup playoffs took a major downward turn after an agonizing 2-1 loss to the Seattle Sounders Saturday night. Rodney Wallace’s goal in the first 10 minutes of the second half brought United to level terms tilted play squarely in their favor for much of the half.

United’s strong midfield play, went for nought as Fredy Montero fired a stunning strike in the 84th minute to cap Seattle’s second win at RFK Stadium in the last two weeks.

The Sounders defeated United by the same 2-1 score on September 2nd to capture the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and their first trophy as an MLS franchise.

Sounders FC picked up right where they left off from that match, scoring a goal in the 5th minute before many of the 19,592 energetic fans had made it to their seats. Steve Zakuani slipped behind Bryan Namoff and beat goalkeeper Josh Wicks to give Seattle the early 1-0 lead.

Peter Vagenas played a perfect low, long ball out of the back to Zakuani streaking through the left channel and with Josh Wicks hesitating slightly in his decision to come off his line, the rookie nutmegged the keeper for his fourth goal of the season.

“Obviously when you get a goal that early that helps your team settle (in)” said Seattle coach Sigi Schmid. “We felt that going into the game the first 15 or 20-minutes were going to be really important. We wanted to make sure we matched whatever they threw out there and that goal helped us.”

United responded quickly however with Santino Quaranta’s crafty, bordering on clumsy, dribbling on the left side of midfield which gave him enough space to collect himself, exchange a ball with Ben Olsen, and play a wonderful diagonal ball to Fred, who snuck in behind Leo Gonzalez on the back side.

Fred’s touch failed him however, giving goalkeeper Kasey Keller enough time to sweep up the loose ball and eliminate the threat.

Head Coach Tom Soehn decided to rest Christian Gomez in favor of Quaranta, though the Argentinean playmaker came on in the second for Jaime Moreno, who ran alongside Luciano Emilio up front.

Wallace started in the middle but drifted primarily wide with Fred patrolling the other side. Julius James and Clyde Simms played centrally on defense in the relatively new four man back line with Namoff on the right and Avery John on the left.

Zakuani engaged in a subtle but intriguing battle with the veteran Namoff over the course of the two matches. The speedy, first overall selection in last year’s Super Draft rookie constantly probed the savvy defender for time and space on the Sounder’s attacking left flank.

“He’s a veteran and he is not going to let a first year player, a rookie give him problems so it was fun but at the same time I am going to try and play my game no matter who I am playing against and it’s nice like tonight when it works, it’s perfect,” said Zakuani.

Both teams exchanged functional possession throughout the remainder of the half with both creating chances but lacking definitive ideas in the final third.

Seattle’s Sebastian Le Toux finally found a crease but an alert Wicks cut down the angle with a strong slide to deny the Frenchman. The rebound however made it only as far as the left side of the penalty area with Montero collecting the ball with ample space, but his well struck shot missed over the top.

Seattle played without Freddie Ljungberg in the midfield as the Swedish legend was suspended for yellow card accumulation. Jhon Kennedy Hurtado returned to his customary location in the middle of central defense after missing the U.S. Open Cup win on red-card suspension from Seattle’s semifinal win against Houston.

Despite Ljungberg’s absence, Schmid changed very little and Seattle had no shortage of chances throughout the match.

“We have had to play a lot of games without Freddie and some games without Montero,” Schmid said. “We knew they were going to come with a four (man backline) this time so we didn’t really have somebody drop in that hole and we tried to stay high on the two center backs.”

Wallace’s equalizer in the 54th minute immediately stepped up the intensity of the match after an uneventful start to the second half. The United rookie pounced on a deflected ball in the penalty area and knocked it past Keller just inside the left post.

Wallace struggled with his first touch through most of the night, but a probing run into the heart of the Sounders FC defense started the sequence. The University of Maryland grad played a ball wide headed for Emilio that was deflected by a Seattle defender toward the middle of the penalty area allowing him to pick it up and step to goal.

“As soon as Rodney got the goal, I thought we were all over them. We had more of the possession, we were more dangerous,” said rookie midfielder Chris Pontius. “We didn’t put some balls away and they did at the end. It’s just tough, especially at home, after they beat us in the Open Cup final. We wanted revenge tonight and we didn’t get it on this night.”

The chances did tilt in United’s favor but not before Seattle had multiple quality opportunities to jump back into the lead. Just moments after the Wallace equalizer Le Toux spun a perfectly weighted, chest-high ball into Montero’s path at the near post, but Wicks beat the Colombian sharpshooter to the spot to punch it away to safety.

Zakuani followed that up in the 65th minute on a play where he appeared to be offside, but his last touch also got away from him, giving Wicks the opportunity he needed to knock the ball away. That rebound however went only as far as the edge of the 6-yard box where Montero hammered a hopeful left-footed shot from a severe angle that shook the side netting.

It was soon thereafter that the flow of the match turned in United’s favor.

Ben Olsen had two cracks from distance in the 67th and 72nd minutes that required Keller’s attention which were followed up by two attempts from Emilio, who muscled through James Riley on the first to collect a flick-on from Moreno but wasted the chance with a weak shot from inside the box that Keller scooped up with ease.

The Brazilian did activate Keller’s radar again a few minutes later however, going through Hurtado –losing a shoe in the process — but was dismissed by the former U.S. National team star with a good save at the left near post.

United continued to pour it on but could not find pay dirt as Moreno, despite a jersey tug from Patrick Ianni, got free to deliver a sharp pass to Olsen who had crept behind the back line on an opportune run from the back side.

“It was disappointing at that point because I thought we adjusted,” said Soehn. “First half I thought we killed plays off by being too cute in the final third and giving them counterattacks. We adjusted at halftime and I thought the energy and the way we opened up the game was pretty good.

“We obviously had so many less turnovers [tonight], created a lot more opportunities and giving away the goal on a half chance like that on the near post is deflating.”

The momentum was put to rest when Montero darted into an open space behind the United back line, latching on to a quick ball from Riley and pounded a right-footed shot, beating Wicks to the upper near corner from 14 yards out for the winning tally.

“At this point we just can’t make mistakes overall from the forwards to the backs…that’s what happens. We’ve got to put our chances away,” added Moreno. “So we know that, and we know that we have so many important games coming up and we can’t afford to lose any more points at home. ..we weren’t sharp enough, especially myself.”

Scoring Summary:
SEA — Steve Zakuani 4 (Peter Vagenas 2) 5
DC — Rodney Wallace 3 (unassisted) 54
SEA — Fredy Montero 11 (James Riley 4) 84

Seattle Sounders FC — Kasey Keller, James Riley, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Patrick Ianni, Leo Gonzalez, Sebastien Le Toux, Osvaldo Alonso, Peter Vagenas (Brad Evans 62), Steve Zakuani (Tyrone Marshall 86), Nate Jaqua (Roger Levesque 77), Fredy Montero,

Substitutes Not Used: Terry Boss, Zach Scott, Nathan Sturgis, Tyson Wahl

D.C. United — Josh Wicks, Bryan Namoff, Julius James, Avery John, Fred (Chris Pontius 53), Ben Olsen (Andrew Jacobson 83), Clyde Simms, Rodney Wallace, Jaime Moreno (Christian Gomez 83), Santino Quaranta, Luciano Emilio,

Substitutes Not Used: David Habarugira, Milos Kocic, Devon McTavish, Tiyiselani Shipalane

D.C. United Seattle Sounders FC
Total shots: 8 (Luciano Emilio 4) 11 (Fredy Montero 5)
Shots on goal: 3 (3 tied with 1) 6 (Fredy Montero 2,
Steve Zakuani 2)
Fouls: 13 (Luciano Emilio 3) 13 (Nate Jaqua 3)
Offsides: 0 1 (Fredy Montero 1)
Corner kicks: 1 (Jaime Moreno 1) 4 (Sebastien Le Toux 4)
Saves: 4 (Josh Wicks 4) 2 (Kasey Keller 2)

Misconduct Summary:
DC — Rodney Wallace (caution; Reckless Tackle) 57
DC — Santino Quaranta (caution; Simulation) 62
DC — Avery John (caution; Reckless Foul) 93+

Referee: Silviu Petrescu
Referee’s Assistants: Kermit Quisenberry; Nate Clement
4th official: Terry Vaughn
Time of game: 1:51
Attendance: 19,592
Weather: Cloudy -and- 70 degrees