After watching the match it requires a deep breath prior to engaging in details.
The Sounders drew the Union not because of any one thing. It’s easy to point the blame on missing out on points to a few different things or players. But, the problem is more than just the easy out, it’s a combination of things. But that’s getting ahead of ourselves, let’s hit the recap.
The first half had the Sounders bursting out of the gate and working the backline of the defense. Eddie Johnson was supremely impressive getting plenty of one-on-one opportunities with Jeff Parke and showing off his healthy hamstring. Mauro Rosales was a strong factor as well reminding us of his impact when healthy. Winning an early foul and then again delivering the ball in from a corner to an unmarked EJ.
The goal was scored and just like that a switch was flipped inside the minds of those on the opposing bench. The Philadelphia Union wanted it level and it was apparent that they were going to fight it out.
This really wasn’t the moment that it started getting chippy, though. Instead we were privy to a match that was likened to something of a Clippers game. Up and down, constantly in transition. Only, the game was predominately filled with Chris Paul bricks and Blake Griffin missed alley-opps rather than actual successful attempts.
Djimi Traore continued his strong performance in the first half. Terrorizing the Union and breaking up chances. Along, with Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, who, while forgotting to come out for the second half–atleast mentally–had a strong first half.
The back line was extremely busy but part of that was their own fault. Wave after wave came up against the defense but the ball was consistently cleared into an empty midfield. Carrasco, Caskey and Rosales were pulled so far back from the midfield at times that it made it difficult for Neagle to win all the 50/50 balls.
This is kind of when I started noticing how physical of a game it really was. Alex Caskey was getting knocked off the ball, like a defenseless American battling a crack-whore ninja in Tijuana. Connor Casey repeatedly pushed past Yedlin, who was constantly looking for a foul and went down weakly on a few different occasions through his time.
Eventually, and with a bit of relief from the supporters section, the half ended with the Seattle Sounders FC still in the sole possession of the lead but that was due to the Union just coming up short on multiple shots and failed chances. The hope, at least for me, was that with a new half the Sounders would get back to their ways of winning the ball and allowing Mauro Rosales show his creativity with a proven finisher in the box and possibly Neagle cleaning up a shot in front of goal. Mind you, this was all just in my head.
Reality of course showed up and we were all taken to hell and forced to watch the Danny Cruz show. So… thanks reality. You still suck.
Philadelphia didn’t waste time, they showed their first half intensity wasn’t something that would go away with a 15 minute break, and give a lot of credit to them and their coaching staff. They could have come away from that first half down a goal and being shown the treatment of missing chance after chance.
Instead they kept at it until a loose ball on a blocked shot by Gspurning fell a few feet in front of him and Cruz pounded it in above a sliding Leo Gonzalez, just inside the top left 90. Across the board I think we all kind of saw this coming at that point. The finish was top shelf and there was really little more that Gspurning could have done besides not allow the ball to carry further than he was able to go.
But, while every Rave Green supporter knew that goal was a matter of time, the second goal Cruz put home was a frustrating mix of poor touch, positioning and lackadaisical mess. A badly touched loose ball came off the foot of Alex Caskey and dribbled from inside-out of the 18 yard box. Cruz pounced and sent the volley screaming inches above the ground past a diving Gspurning who was not prepared for a shot against his goal. All the while Hurtado stood, stunned and ball watching.
I watch the Philedalphia stream and while it was bias–I mean really who’s local announcers are not–I realized that JP Dellacamera could not have been watching the same game as I was. He talked early on about how only a single card has been dispatched and the fact that it seemed rather civil. I thought this was crazy. This should have been my second clue that this game was headed towards something quite crazy.
Watching the game head towards a couple future crazy moments shortly took a back seat to Brad Evans coming off slowly. This is something that will need to be discussed this week. Thank goodness it resulted in the release of Mario Martinez from whatever secret fortress Sigi had been hiding him. Martinez came on and was an instantaneous a difference maker.
His runs off the ball and sliced passes paved the way for an overlapping run by Leo Gonzalez who delivered an excellent cross into a Mauro/Eddie duo standing in front of Zach MacMath’s goal and brought about parity to match.
The rest of the match was more pick-up basketball than it was anything else. A lot of high intense work rate to get the ball into an attacking third, only to give the ball away. It was like an ugly 4th grade ping pong match where you can hit the ball pretty coordinated but you can’t return anything. They just took turns being dangerous and even still the Union dominated the possession and won balls in the middle of the field.
There is a lot more to talk about from this game, cards and all, but I’m going to save that for later. The big thing to take away from this game wasn’t just that Caskey was bad, and he did have some moments. It wasn’t that Carrasco was frustrating and despite all his work rate he had very little to show for it.
Matches as a whole have a way of not being the sum of all their parts. Teams come away with 3 points when they never deserved 1 and others a team comes away with 1 point when they obviously deserved none.
the game ended on uncalled Leo Gonzalez hand ball that my mom from her kitchen on the other side of the country could call undisputed. The thing is, the Seattle Sounders haven’t gotten a lot of favorable things go their way. In fact, they’ve had all together pretty dumb founding poor luck. Today, they found themselves a couple of breaks and while it came at the Unions expense they have a couple extra points that they likley shouldn’t have gotten at this point either.
Things work themselves out. Unfortunately, we left with a bit of karma tapping us on our shoulders. But, we’ll get to that later. It’s a huge point for the club and they should enjoy it. This next task isn’t going to be so easy.