By Money Mike
Last night, a record crowd of 64,140 fans came to CenturyLink Field to pay tribute to one of the greatest goalkeepers in the game, Kasey Keller. The Sounders played their final regular season home match of the 2011 season, taking on the San Jose Earthquakes who were playing for pride after already being eliminated from the playoffs. The fans were treated with yet another come-from-behind win for the Men in Rave Green as they scored two goals in the last eight minutes of the game to defeat the Quakes by a score of 2-1. The Sounders still have another home match on Tuesday as Mexican side Monterrey in the final CONCACAF Champions League group stage match for 2011-2012. Following that match the Sounders will head to the Home Depot Center in Carson, California to close out the regular season against Chivas USA.
10 minutes into the game, the Quakes nearly caught the Sounders ball watching. Simon Dawkins took the corner kick from the far hash mark and the initial cross looked like it was for Chris Wondolowski at the near post, but he mistimed his jump. Khari Stephenson's follow up was blocked by Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and the ball rolled past Ozzie Alonso who just stood there instead of trying to clear it away and Wondolowski ended up shooting it just wide.
In the 13th minute, Ozzie Alonso may have scuffed what looked like a volley towards goal. The ball fell in the box to Fredy Montero who made a nice cut inside on Jason Hernandez before being clipped near the thighs by Hernandez, but referee Michael Kennedy decided not to point to the penalty spot. I've looked at the replay a few times and seriously, this is why FOX Soccer will give up their rights to NBC following the end of the 2011 season. They said Kennedy got the decision right. Give me a break. I looked at the replay over and over again and Hernandez definitely caught Montero, so unless he got the ball first, that should've been a foul and that should've been a penalty.
In the 19th, Khari Stephenson, who scored a wonder goal against the Sounders in the first meeting back on April 2nd, decided to test Keller from about 29-yards out (Once again, it's from my point of view, in which case I may be wrong). Kasey Keller dived to his right to parry it away. Stephenson this year has put together the best season of his MLS career, making 30 appearances, scoring 5 goals and assisting in 3 other goals. The Earthquakes have been switching things around in the second half of the season because of key players being injured and making trades and stuff. They traded Brandon McDonald to D.C. United in late June. Ryan Johnson was traded to Toronto FC for Nana Attakora, Alan Gordon and Jacob Peterson. Edmundo Zura was acquired on loan from El Nacional, but his loan deal was terminated after one match because of his lack of fitness. Alan Gordon only made two appearances since his move from Toronto before undergoing season ending surgery. Scott Sealy has been missing. Steven Lenhart took a family leave of absence, which was a huge blow for their attacking game. Everything just backfired for this team. I think the San Jose Earthquakes are a better team than this and despite being a Sounders fan and all, I think it's a little disappointing to see them miss out on the playoffs because there's a lot of talent on that team.
In the 24th minute, San Jose capitalises on a costly mistake by defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado. Brad Ring tried to flick the ball on for Chris Wondolowski, but Jhon Kennedy Hurtado gives it right back and Rafael Baca sent Wondolowski away. Wondolowski takes two big touches, slows down a bit in the process, and calmly slides the ball into the corner past Keller for his 15th goal of the season. The Sounders, pretty much the entire first half, made a bunch of sloppy and unnecessary passes like last week in their 2-0 loss to the Philadelphia Union.
In the 65th minute, a horrible pass by Patrick Ianni nearly resulted in a second goal for the Earthquakes. Ianni tried to pass the ball back to Kasey Keller with Khari Stephenson in his face he completely made a mess of it. Keller came off his line to deny Stephenson. The ball then fell to Chris Wondolowski who made a move, then had a go on his left foot and Keller made another save. Simon Dawkins then had a try and was also denied before the Sounders could finally clear the ball away. Both the center backs for Seattle had a terrible game, mainly because of the crappy passing. Hurtado's giveaway leading to the opening goal by Wondolowski and a giveaway by Ianni which nearly resulted in a second goal.
The Sounders made two big substitutions in the 64th minute, bringing on Mauro Rosales, who made his return after suffering an MCL sprain a few weeks ago, and four minutes later, they brought in Sammy Ochoa and both of them nearly combined for an equalizer in the 75th minute....
With 15 minutes to go, Rosales whipped in a very good cross to the top of the area for Sammy Ochoa whose header sailed well over the bar. Three minutes later, Rosales found Fredy Montero who was able to head the ball down, but wide of Jon Busch's right hand side.
In the 82nd minute, Mauro Rosales and Sammy Ochoa hooked up again. This time, a long through ball did the trick. Rosales sent Ochoa behind the San Jose defense with a good long ball. Ochoa waited for the ball to bounce in front of him before slotting the ball past Jon Busch and in off the left post for his first Sounders goal. Remember, Ochoa spent 5 years at Esdudiantes Tecos and scored only two goals in 27 appearances for them. I think the more playing time he gets, the more goals he'll score for this club. This guy has the potential. He is still working to get to the level where he can start a game and go a full 90 minutes because of the fact he didn't get much playing time with Tecos and hopefully by the final game of the regular season, if not the playoffs, he could make his way into the starting 11, but at the same time, he may continue to come off the bench and continue to improve on his form during the offseason.
Five minutes later, in the 87th minute, the Sounders capped off another dramatic comeback. Sammy Ochoa knocked Bobby Burling off the ball before he could clear. Brad Evans found Lamar Neagle, who quickly slotted the ball in the penalty area to Fredy Montero. Montero did very well to turn and quickly fire the ball off the outside of his right foot into the far corner of the net for his 12th goal in MLS and his 17th goal in all competitions this season. That goal also turned out to be the match winner as Kasey Keller's home finale ends in another Sounders come-from-behind win.
OK, so looking at this photo, you would think I was there, just like April 9th when the Sounders got their first win of the season and October 4 when the Sounders won the U.S. Open Cup. But no, I wasn't at this game. I had no luck on the tickets so I ended up watching this game on TV. But looking at the entire stadium full of fans to watch an American soccer game is always huge, and of course I'm talking about non-soccer specific stadiums like CenturyLink Field. And by the way, not only was the stadium built for the Seattle Seahawks, it was built with a hope of bringing an MLS team to Seattle, and all the talks about that started somewhere around the year of 2006. And I remember very well, comissioner Don Garber was interviewed on ESPN when one of the midseason matches in 07', and he talked about possibly the league expanding somewhere in the Northwest. And the fact that the Sounders when they were in the USL First Division, won the Championship that year which I believe was the reason they were awarded an MLS team. We've had a crowd like this for friendly's and international matches (with the Hawks Nest opened as well), but for an MLS game, not until last night. It's something you always want to see.
San Jose Earthquakes - Chris Wondolowski 15 (Rafael Baca 3) 24'
Seattle Sounders FC - Sammy Ochoa 1 (Mauro Rosales 13) 82'
Seattle Sounders FC - Fredy Montero 12 (Lamar Neagle 2, Brad Evans 4) 87'
San Jose Earthquakes - Justin Morrow (caution; Reckless tackle) 6'
San Jose Earthquakes - Brad Ring (caution; Reckless foul) 40'
Seattle Sounders FC - Patrick Ianni (caution; Unsporting behavior) 48'
San Jose Earthquakes - Jason Hernandez (caution; Unsporting behavior) 57'
San Jose Earthquakes - Jon Busch; Steven Beitashour, Jason Hernandez, Bobby Burling, Justin Morrow; Rafael Baca, Brad Ring, Sam Cronin, Simon Dawkins; Chris Wondolowski, Khari Stephenson
Seattle Sounders FC - 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