Monday, May 20, 2013

Sounders defeat FC Dallas 4-2; Extend unbeaten streak to six

By Money Mike

The Seattle Sounders hot streak continues. On Saturday night, the Rave Green came way with their third straight win as they defeated the Western Conference leaders FC Dallas 4-2 to extend their unbeaten streak to six games. The Sounders had a 2-0 lead at halftime, but Dallas came back with two quick goals early in the second half to level the match up at two goals a piece only for the Sounders to come away with two more unanswered goals and the three points. The Sounders will have a chance at extending their unbeaten run to seven games as they travel to the Home Depot Center for a Western Conference Finals rematch against the two-time MLS Cup Champion Los Angeles Galaxy. LA is coming off a 1-0 road loss to the New York Red Bulls and have struggled a bit as of late, losing three out of their last four games. The game will take place this Sunday at 8pm on ESPN2.

With just over a quarter of an hour gone by in the match, the Sounders opened the scoring. After FC Dallas keeper Raul Fernandez cleared the ball to midfield, Ozzie Alonso headed it back into the Dallas area where Eddie Johnson was in a race with defender London Woodberry. The rookie makes a mistake by trying to reach out with his right foot for the ball and EJ makes him pay as he brings it down with his chest and puts it away with the outside of his right foot and the Sounders pick up where they left off against the Earthquakes. Scoring goals. It was Johnson's third MLS goal of the season (fourth in all competitions) and first against his former club. Woodberry had a torrid evening as the Sounders offense took him to school.

EJ nearly had a second five minutes later. Mario Martinez's outswinger from the far touchline found Johnson who outjumped Matt Hedges but couldn't direct his header on target.

In the 27th minute, Seattle had another big chance to double their lead. Mario Martinez found Brad Evans in behind the defense and as he approached the 6 yard area, he hesitated at the last second, deciding whether or not to slide the ball across to Lamar Neagle and that gave Raul Fernandez time to position himself and make the save. Evans appeared to have been offside on the pass from Martinez, but at the same time, Evans was in position to slot the ball inside the far corner with his left foot.

Evans was involved in another scoring chance for the Sounders in the 30th minute. This time, a through ball to Lamar Neagle did the trick. Neagle was fed with a perfectly timed through ball as he beat the offside trap, only had the keeper to beat, dribbles the ball around him and puts the ball inside the empty net before London Woodberry could have any chance of sliding in and breaking up the play. There was no doubt in this play, Neagle was definitely onside. Zach Loyd, the last defender, kept him on. But the question is, why the hell is Dallas trying to push all the way up and trying to play the offside trap? This time the Sounders made them pay. That was Neagle's third goal in two games and the Sounders doubled their lead.

Just shortly after, the Sounders suffered a big blow as Ozzie Alonso was forced to leave the game with in injury. Last I heard, it was a left adductor strain, but no further information as of right now. I just hope he'll be back soon.

Just over 10 minutes later, the Sounders came real close to making it three. Michael Gpsurning gathered the ball quickly threw the ball out to Mario Martinez to set Seattle on the counter. Martinez cut inside and slid the ball trough to Brad Evans for a first timed shot, but it hit the side of the net. Many thought it was in. As a matter of fact, I've seen those plays result in goals more times than not.

Seconds later, Dallas had a golden opportunity to cut the lead in half. Zach Loyd made an overlapping run and was found by Jackson. Loyd had plenty of time to take a touch and whip the ball to the near post for Blas Perez who looked to direct his header inside Michael Gpsurning's right hand post and ends up hitting the post, then off Gspurning's left hand and the rebound by Eric Hassli was saved off Gspurning's left thigh. Had Gpsurning not got a left hand to the ball, I think Kenny Cooper would've had an easy rebound.

In the 54th minute, Dallas this time were able to pull one back. The visitors look more dangerous on set pieces this year then they did last year. Mainly because of the quality that Brazilian midfielder Michel on his delivery and he showed that in this game as he curled the ball into the area for a free header from former Portland Timber forward Kenny Cooper who didn't even need to jump. All he needed to do was direct the ball on target and that's what he did and Dallas cut the Sounders lead to one.

Seattle continued to attack though and in the 59th minute, they were an inch away from making it 3-1. Mario Martinez played in another great through ball in the box, this time to Eddie Johnson who was denied a second goal by Raul Fernandez. Lamar Neagle came crashing in looking to head in the rebound but was denied with a heroic goaline stop by London Woodberry to keep it a 2-1 game. That was pretty much the only highlight of this match for Woodberry who as I mentioned earlier, had a rough night in the office.

Two minutes later, the Hoops level the match up on what is a rare feat in soccer. They call it an Olimpico Goal. I did mention the quality that Michel has on set pieces and his inswinger from the near hashmark goes directly into the far corner without touching anybody and the Sounders quickly see their two goal lead slip away with just under a half an hour to go in the match. This isn't the first time Michael Gspurning was on the back end of a Gol Olimpico. Marco Pappa scored one direct off a corner in Seattle's visit to Chicago last season. Again, Olimpico Goals are very rare, although we've seen quite a few in MLS these last couple of years. David Beckham did it a couple years ago when he was still playing for the LA Galaxy. Thierry Henry scored one direct off a corner kick last year. I already mentioned Marco Pappa. And now Michel against the Seattle Sounders.

Now I'm actually going to show you the goal...... mainly because a lot of you don't know what an Olimpico Goal is, so this video should give you an idea.

However, the match was level for only a minute because in the 62nd minute, the Men in Rave Green came right back and got their third. FC Dallas have been sloppy all night in their passing game, struggling to get the ball out of their area and once again they paid the price. Shalrie Joseph fed Lamar Neagle who turned and slid the ball through to Eddie Johnson and EJ made no mistake this time as he dribbled around Raul Fernandez and went Upper-V (which means he struck it inside the top corner of the net) for his second of the game and the Sounders just like that climb back ahead and take a 3-2 lead. This looked like a similar play where Brad Evans missed wide off a through ball from Martinez back in the first half and EJ getting denied in the second half. But this time EJ see that Fernandez is coming off his line to cut down the angle and he dribbles around him and puts it away.

In the 72nd minute, blood was drawn and the outcome was a controversial red card decision. Blas Perez and Leo Gonzalez were both going up for the ball and Perez ends up catching Gonzalez with an elbow, unintentionally though. When they showed the replay, it looked like a dangerous play and that MLS was going to review it during midweek and see if it worthy of a suspension, but when it got back to live action, referee Mark Geiger (who we've have problems with the last few times he officiated matches involving the Sounders) reached for his back pocket and pulled out the red card after a discussion with the fourth official. You see plays like this every time where players accidentally get elbowed while going up in the air for the ball and no red cards were handed out on those plays, so I think the only reason a red card was given is because Gonzalez's face was covered in blood.

In the 83rd the Sounders would get another goal to cap off another big victory. Lamar Neagle whipped in a brilliant left footed cross for Eddie Johnson to headed the ball straight at Raul Fernandez. The ball fell to Brad Evans who slid the ball to the middle for Obafemi Martins to slide it home for his third goal of the season and more importantly, to seal the Sounders third straight win as they defeat FC Dallas 4-2. The Sounders are unbeaten in their last six matches since starting the year 0-3-1 and most people would begin to think that they're a force to be force to be reckoned with up front with Eddie Johnson, Lamar Neagle and now Obafemi Martins.

Scoring summary:

Seattle Sounders FC - Eddie Johnson 3 (Osvaldo Alonso 1) 16'

Seattle Sounders FC - Lamar Neagle 3 (Brad Evans 1) 30'

FC Dallas - Kenny Cooper 3 (Michel 4) 54'

FC Dallas - Michel 1 (Unassisted) 61'

Seattle Sounders FC - Eddie Johnson 4 (Lamar Neagle 1) 62'

Seattle Sounders FC - Obafemi Martins 3 (Brad Evans 2) 83'

Misconduct summary:

FC Dallas - London Woodberry (caution; foul) 43'

FC Dallas - Blas Perez (ejection; violent conduct) 73'

Seattle Sounders FC - DeAndre Yedlin (caution; time wasting) 87'


FC Dallas - Raul Fernandez; Zach Loyd, Matt Hedges, London Woodberry (Walker Zimmerman 85'), Jair Benitez; Jackson, Michel, Je-Vaughn Watson; Eric Hassli, Blas Perez, Kenny Cooper (Fabian Castillo 64')

Seattle Sounders FC - Michael Gspurning; DeAndre Yedlin, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Djimi Traore, Leonardo Gonzalez (Zach Scott 78'); Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso (Shalrie Joseph 31'), Servando Carrasco, Mario Martinez (Obafemi Martins 63'); Eddie Johnson, Lamar Neagle

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Sounders crush the San Jose Earthquakes 4-0

By Money Mike

After a 2-0-1 road trip, the Seattle Sounders returned home looking to snatch a four game losing skid against the San Jose Earthquakes. And that's exactly what they did. Goals have been tough to come by for the Sounders in the early part of the season but on Saturday, the Men in Rave Green rediscovered their goalscoring touch as they put a four spot on the San Jose Earthquakes for their third win in their last four matches and also to extend their unbeaten run to five games. The Sounders remain at home next Saturday when they host the Western Conference leaders FC Dallas. Kickoff time for that match is at 7:30.

Sounders began testing the San Jose backline early on in the game. In the 9th minute, Lamar Neagle let the ball run through to Eddie Johnson who played it back to the Federal Way boy. Neagle took one touch and ripped one from a long way out, but the ball was always going wide.

Sounders should've had a goal in the 24th minute. Eddie Johnson found Brad Evans on the near side. Evans had Lamar Neagle making a run in the box as well as Mauro Rosales and whipped in a low left foot cross to the far post for Rosales who should've headed the ball in, but it looked like he timed his header a little to early and the ball came off the side of his head and didn't find the target.

In the 28th minute, the Sounders opened the scoring as they would catch the Quakes on the break. After some sloppy passing from Sam Cronin and Ramiro Corrales, Mauro Rosales poked the ball to Brad Evans who quickly played the ball out wide for Eddie Johnson. EJ slowed up for a second as he waited for support before taking on Justin Morrow. Johnson then chipped the ball into the box to Rosales who chested the ball to the top of the box for Lamar Neagle who catches it off the half volley and Jon Busch could do nothing but get a piece of the ball as it finds the back of the net for Neagle's first league goal in his third stint with the Sounders.

In the 37th minute, San Jose nearly pulled one back and probably should've pulled one back. Sam Cronin curled the ball to the far post for Ramiro Corrales who headed the ball back across to Alan Gordon for a free header and how he missed that opportunity, I don't know. Gordon was making his first start after missing the last four games. He was suspended three games for his homophobic slur which was directed at Portland Timbers midfielder Will Johnson during their match in Portland. He's the third player in the last two seasons to cross the line in that area. Colin Clark remember was suspended for his homophobic slur directed at one of the Sounders ball boys during the second match of the 2012 season between the Sounders and the Houston Dynamo and Marc Burch of course was also penalized for the same reason also believed to be directed at Will Johnson in the second leg of last years Western Conference semifinal between the Sounders and Real Salt Lake, and you can read more about that here. Anyway, missing games is no excuse for missing that opportunity. Gordon should've scored.

Just seconds into first half stoppage time, the Sounders doubled their lead. After a foul was conceded about 25 yards away from goal, now the question was who was going to take this one because this was Fredy Montero territory, but he's on loan in Colombia, you also have Mario Martinez who can take these, but he was on the bench to start the game. So it came down to, "is Mauro Rosales going to touch it for Ozzie Alonso?", "is he gonna look for one of the green shirts in the box?", "is he gonna go for goal himself?". Well, he went for goal himself and curled it in off the left post to put the Sounders up 2-0.

Moving on to the 54th minute, it was Lamar Neagle for the second time in this match. Servando Carrasco, who has really improved these past couple of week, fed Neagle with a high lofted ball. Neagle used his strength to bring the ball down in front of him, turn away from Justin Morrow and strike it low and hard in off the near post for his second of the game and the Sounders third.

And then in the final seconds of the game, Obafemi Martins comes on and gets in on the goal parade.....

The Sounders have quickly turned things around since their 0-3-1 start. They have won three of their last four matches, they're unbeaten in five and they're only a couple points out of playoff position with a couple games in hand. The Men in Rave Green have shown once again that they can comeback in a heartbeat.

Scoring summary:

Seattle Sounders FC - Lamar Neagle 1 (Mauro Rosales 3, Eddie Johnson 1) 28'

Seattle Sounders FC - Mauro Rosales 2 (Unassisted) 46'+

Seattle Sounders FC - Lamar Neagle 2 (Servando Carrasco 1) 54'

Seattle Sounders FC - Obafemi Martins 2 (Unassisted) 93'+

Misconduct summary:

San Jose Earthquakes - Rafael Baca (caution; foul) 45'

San Jose Earthquakes - Chris Wondolowski (caution; argument) 88'

Seattle Sounders FC - Eddie Johnson (caution; argument) 88'


San Jose Earthquakes - Jon Busch; Steven Beitashour, Victor Bernardez, Justin Morrow, Dan Gargan; Rafael Baca, Sam Cronin, Ramiro Corrales (Shea Salinas 64'), Walter Martinez; Alan Gordon (Marcus Tracy 65'), Chris Wondolowski

Seattle Sounders FC - Michael Gspurning; DeAndre Yedlin, Zach Scott, Djimi Traore, Leonardo Gonzalez; Mauro Rosales (Mario Martinez 62'), Osvaldo Alonso, Servando Carrasco, Brad Evans (Obafemi Martins 55'); Lamar Neagle (David Estrada 86'), Eddie Johnson

Friday, May 10, 2013

"NOT AGAIN": Yes again..... Sounders snatch one late against Sporting Kansas City

SKC left standing with their heads in their hands
after conceding yet another late goal to the Sounders.
By Money Mike

Coming off a 2-2 draw in Philly, the Seattle Sounders closed out their three game road trip in Kansas City. Many exports expected SKC to come away with an easy victory. The Sounders had other plans like eh, I don't know........ scoring another late goal. That's exactly what happened. It looked like the match was going to end scoreless, but deep into stoppage time, Sporting whiffed on an attempted clearance and Djimi Traore made them pay as he scored the winning goal to give the Sounders a 1-0 victory. After an 0-3-2 start, the Sounders have picked up 7 points during this road stretch and are starting to turn things around in this early part of the season. The Sounders return home for a Saturday afternoon match against the San Jose Earthquakes. The Rave Green have a major score to settle with them, having lost the last four meetings between the two.

In the opening seconds of the game, Michael Gspurning was immediately put to the test. Zach Scott failed to clear the ball out of his own half and Jacob Peterson looked to take advantage by hitting one inside the far post, but Gspurning got down, made the save and held on before C.J. Sapong had any chance at a rebound.

In the 13th minute, Sporting tried to catch the Sounders off guard. Peterson Joseph took the corner and rather than swinging the ball into the box, he elected to play it short to Josh Gardner who slid the ball through to Graham Zusi. The idea was right, but Zusi took a heavy touch which allowed Brad Evans to get a foot to it, but Peterson Joseph stepped up and tried a curling shot to the far corner, but he didn't quite get enough bend on it.

In the 22nd minute, Seattle Sounders should've had a penalty. Zach Scott took a long throw in from the near side. His throw in just missed the head of Brad Evans and bounced off the arm of Ike Opara right in front of the goal, but nothing was given. And why not? Opara raised his arm up, the ball bounced off his arm....... Can somebody explain to me how that is not a penalty? Seconds later, play was stopped after some yelling from the Sounders bench. Referee Geoff Gamble ran over to the bench and I thought he ejected one of the Sounders assistant coaches because one of them got up immediately and argued, but it just so happened that it was backup goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann who was dismissed. Now I've never seen anything like that before. Normally if a referee goes over to eject somebody, it would be one of the coaches, but a bench player? I've never seen that. Now for those of you who are confused with the rules regarding somebody getting sent off from the bench, it's just like a player getting a red card. They're ejected from the game and are suspended for the next game. The only difference here is that Seattle doesn't have to play with 10 men because the player sent off of course, was on the bench. Another thing to add to this is now Seattle doesn't have a backup goalkeeper for the match this Saturday against the Earthquakes. So it looks like they're gonna bring in Doug Herrick who's currently contracted by the MLS League-Wide Reserve Goalkeeper Pool, which means any team can bring him up for a game if needed. Some of you remember him from last season with the Sounders U23. There's also a guy by the name of Brad Stuver who is also contracted by the MLS reserve pool, but it's likely to be Doug Herrick who will be called into the squad as an emergency backup to Michael Gspurning for this Saturday. I think this is the third time that the Sounders have had to bring in a keeper from the reserve pool. First couple weeks of the 09' season, they had to bring in Ben Dragavon to the fold when Chris Eylander was banged up and he actually came on in a match against Kansas City after Kasey Keller was sent off. The other guy they brought in was Alex Horwath in 2010. That guy didn't make an appearance however.

Alright enough talk about the goalkeeper situation, let's move to the 26 minute. The Sounders hadn't created many opportunities in this game, but they had one here. Mario Martinez chipped the ball to Brad Evans from about 20 yards out. Evans chested the ball down and tried to volley it with his left foot, but it was a weak attempt and didn't look like it was gonna test Jimmy Nielsen had it been on target.

A minute later, Nielsen nearly got caught wrong footed. Mario Martinez took the free kick from outside the penalty area, well within his shooting range. He curled the ball low and around the wall and I thought it was going in but the ball wasn't hit far enough from the goalkeeper and Nielsen got down and made the save.

Now we're gonna fast forward all the way to the 80th minute. The Seattle backline has been put under a lot of pressure all game long. Graham Zusi tried to work a give and go with Claudio Bieler, but the pass was to far for him. However, the Sounders had some trouble clearing the ball away and the attack wasn't over. Chance Myers let the ball bounce to him before he can settle and whip in a long ball into the area looking for Kei Kamara (yes, he's back from his loan stint with Norwich City). Djimi Traore got a head to it, but right to Claudio Bieler who volleyed it well wide. I think that was their first shot attempt of the second half despite all the pressure they put on the Sounders back line.

A couple minutes later, Kei Kamara took on Leo Gonzalez from the near side and sent a low driven ball into the area where he had C.J. Sapong lurking, but his cross was too close to Michael Gspurning.

Now lets fast forward deep into stoppage time. Remember the stoppage time goal by Mike Fucito in 2010? Or the one by Jeff Parke in 2011? Hell, what about the two stoppage time goals by Mauro Rosales and Lamar Neagle later on in 2011 at Sporting Park? Well, in the final seconds of stoppage time (more time was added because of an injury delay), the Sounders burn them again. Zach Scott rather than throwing it long towards goal, he purposefully threw it short to Brad Evans who flicked the ball across and after Aurelien Collin whiffed on his attempted clearance which would've ended the game there, the ball bounced to Djimi Traore who turned and smashed it home and the Sounders steal one from Sporting Kansas City yet again. There were a few appeals that Traore touched it with his hand, but if the referee called handball on that play, then he should've called handball on Opara. Also, Traore didn't touch the ball with his hand, it bounced off his knee. So if any of you think that was a handball, you better go back and watch it over and over again. Nothing was called anyway, the goal stood and the Sounders win 1-0.

Scoring summary:

Seattle Sounders FC - Djimi Traore 1 (Unassisted) 94'+

Misconduct summary:

Seattle Sounders FC - Marcus Hahnemann (dismissed; dissent) 24'

Sporting Kansas City - Ike Opara (caution; foul) 45'

Sporting Kansas City - Aurelien Collin (caution; foul) 91'+


Seattle Sounders FC - Michael Gspurning; Zach Scott, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Djimi Traore, Leonardo Gonzalez; Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso, Servando Carrasco, Mario Martinez (Alex Caskey 93'+); Eddie Johnson, David Estrada (Mauro Rosales 85')

Sporting Kansas City - Jimmy Nielsen; Chance Myers, Aurelien Collin, Ike Opara, Josh Gardner (Seth Sinovic 75'); Benny Feilhaber (Claudio Bieler 66'), Oriol Rosell, Peterson Joseph; Graham Zusi, C.J. Sapong, Jacob Peterson (Kei Kamara 73')