Friday, November 9, 2012
Super Mario sends the Sounders to the Western Conference final
The Seattle Sounders have finally gotten the monkey off their back. Last night, the Rave Green came into the second leg of the Western Conference semifinals knowing that they needed to win in order to avoid a fourth straight early round exit, and that's exactly what they did. The Sounders defeated Real Salt Lake 1-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium on a stunner in the late stages of the game by Mario Martinez to advance to the Western Conference final where they will meet the Defending MLS Cup Champion Los Angeles Galaxy. The Conference final will also be a Home-and-Away series with the first leg taking place this Sunday at 6pm at the Home Depot Center and the second leg next Sunday at 6pm at CenturyLink Field.
In the 10th minute, Alvaro Saborio sent Ned Grabavoy in behind with a nice ball. The angle was tight however, and Michael Gspurning had the near post covered all the way and made an easy save.
10 minutes later, RSL had a free kick opportunity of their own. Javier Morales stepped up and curled the free kick over the wall but it was too central and didn't test Michael Gspurning. That was the last opportunity of the half and the score remained as you were at 0-0.
Less than 30 seconds into the second half, the Sounders were denied again. Seattle worked the ball out wide to Christian Tiffert who whipped in a low ball into the area. An attempted clearance by Kyle Beckerman was fluffed at and the ball bounced to Brad Evans for a first time hit and Nick Rimando got down and parried it away.
On to the 61st minute of the match, the Sounders dodged a huge bullet on a free kick. RSL are a dangerous set piece team with big guys like Saborio, Olave, Borchers, etc. Javier Morales's free kick was aimed at Borchers and the ball almost bounced all the way into the net as Michael Gspurning alertly parried the ball away. Seconds later, Kyle Beckerman chipped the ball back into the box for Borchers, but Adam Johansson had him contained all the way and Borchers couldn't control the ball properly.
With 15 minutes to go, another RSL chance goes begging. Eddie Johnson's pass for Brad Evans was too hot to control and Seattle lost possession in their own area. Ned Grabavoy fed the ball to Fabian Espindola who poked it back to Saborio for a first time shot from about 20 yards away, but he didn't get enough power on it and Michael Gspurning made yet another save.
Now, there have been a lot of tweets and Facebook posts regarding Marc Burch's inappropriate gesture which appeared to be directed at RSL midfielder Will Johnson. Nobody could hear what he said, but apparently a few people may have read his lips. He issued an apology to all of MLS earlier today. Here's what he posted on Facebook earlier today.....
"I want to let everyone know that I apologize for my horrific choice of words last night during our match. This is something that is inconsistent with my family values and because of that I am both disappointed and embarrassed by my level of poor judgment. I take seriously my role as a leader in the community and this is completely regrettable and unacceptable. Character matters and I hope through hard work on and off the field to begin earning your respect and trust again."
Personally I'm glad he stood up and apologized for his actions last night. We had a similar situation back in March in a match between Seattle and Houston when Houston midfielder Colin Clark used a homophobic slur which was directed at a Sounders ball boy and was suspended for three matches. I was expecting a two match ban at the least for Burch, but the MLS disciplinary committee hasn't done anything about it which would mean that Burch would be allowed to play this Sunday. I understand this is the playoffs and we can't afford to lose anybody, but honestly I think there should've been a suspension and the fact that there's nothing is a bit shocking because it appears MLS will let him slide.
Seattle Sounders FC - Mario Martinez 1 (Fredy Montero 1, Brad Evans 1) 81'
Seattle Sounders FC advance 1-0 on aggregate.
Seattle Sounders FC - Osvaldo Alonso (caution; foul) 51'
Seattle Sounders FC - Michael Gspurning; Adam Johansson, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Marc Burch; Christian Tiffert (Andy Rose 73'), Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Mario Martinez (Zach Scott 87'); Eddie Johnson, Fredy Montero (David Estrada 89')
Real Salt Lake - Nick Rimando; Tony Beltran (Luis Gil 85'), Nat Borchers, Jamison Olave, Kenny Mansally (Jonny Steele 86'); Ned Grabavoy, Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales, Will Johnson; Alvaro Saborio, Paulo Jr. (Fabian Espindola 58')
Labels: 2012 MLS Cup playoffs, Adam Johansson, Adrian Hanauer, Brad Evans, Christian Tiffert, Eddie Johnson, Fabian Espindola, Fredy Montero, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Major League Soccer(MLS), Marc Burch, Mario Martinez, Michael Gspurning, Osvaldo Alonso, Real Salt Lake, Seattle Sounders, Sigi Schmid, soccer