For 58 minutes the Seattle Sounders were far and away the most dominant force on the pitch, making the Columbus Crew look almost mediocre in comparison. Solid passing among players, quality defensive maneuvering from the back four, hard runs up the wings, finding holes where none should have been in the midfield, and a beautiful goal by “The Weatherman” Kenny Cooper (in the 22nd minute). Dominant, game winning soccer.
And then it all came undone.
‘The guy beats our defender, but in the end [ref] lets play go on and he gets a clear shot off. He gave him two chances.’
~Sounders GK Stefen Frei~
In what would be an exceptionally soft touch by the standard of any sport (let alone the game of soccer) by Sounders D Djimi Traore, a Red Card was dolled out by head referee Allen Chapman. The whole sequence of play boiled down to a triple punishment, where a denial of a goal scoring opportunity leads to a red card and a penalty. Stepping up for that penalty was, of course, Federico Higuaín who would make the moment count to level the playing field at 1-1. From there on the Sounders were holding on.
Going down to ten men caused the Sounders to collapse back and play a more defensive game than they had in the first 58min, even bringing Leo Gonzalez on to help shore up the backfield and essentially salvage a point from the yellowed jaws of defeat. The Rave Green refused to cower at the sight of the Mellow Yellow though, matching them through the midfield and giving them very little space to work the ball around. All seemed according to plan to preserve a point at home (in spite of a poor challenge by rookie Michael Azira resulting in a Yellow Card at the 87th) and the Sounders looked to finish the 4 minutes of stoppage, putting an end to a frustrating match. With a mere 30 seconds left, the unbelievable happened…
The Corner Kick.
The of events began when the Crew won a corner in the 94th minute when Higuaín took a chance shot and Sounders GK Stefen Frei couldn’t quite clear it from the danger zone. The ball fell to Bernado Anor (remember how I said he was one of the big threats?) keyed off a shot from about 8 yards out. The attempt was for naught as Osvaldo Alonso, being the Sounders hero that he is, cleared the ball off the line and thus salvaging a point for our home town boys. That is until the Crew started protesting for a hand ball. On video, you can hear Chapman blow the whistle to talk to players, an act that would stop play, at which point Higuaín set up and took a considerably quick corner kick with no restart command. Columbus’ Justin Meram (who only entered the match in the 89th minute) would net the far post finish while most of the Sounders were not yet in position to re-start. Moments later full time was whistled and the Sounders found themselves on the receiving end of another home loss.
Sounders Coach Sigi Schmid was extremely critical of Chapman’s positioning post match
Usually a referee positions himself outside the 18 (-yard box) when a corner kick is taken. I rarely see referees positioned almost inside the six-yard box. So it looked to me from the outside like he was talking to our players, and if you’re talking to our players, why do you let the ball get played?
It’s hard to imagine the Sounders losing this one had the red card not been assessed to Traore. The match was well in hand from the start with Lamar Neagle taking a multitude of shots in the first half, with an excellent little header from a Dylan Remick cross. There was blood in the water, the Rave Green sharks were circling and Columbus were struggling just to keep their heads up. The ref handed them their life raft. The Sounders will likely be appealing that red card to the league as it was, by all accounts, completely unjustified. Had Oduro scored on that opportunity would the red card still have been assessed? Highly unlikely, bordering on an outright “no.”
With the loss the Sounders are now 2-2-0 to start the season and drop from 2nd in the Western Conference to 4th. They now look ahead to the first Cascadia Cup showdown of the year on April 5th with bitter rival Portland Timbers.
News & Notes:
- This marked the second and final match ban for Sounders forward Clint Dempsey.
- DeAndre Yedlin, Clint Dempsey, & Brad Evans will make their way to Glendale, Arizona for the USA Vs. Mexico friendly on April 2nd.
- Michael Azira made his first start for the Sounders
- When Kenny Cooper scored the Sounders sole goal, the rain stopped and the skies turned cleared. When he went off, the rain came back with full force. New nickname = The Weatherman
- The fans & Seattle Sounders organization collected $32,000 in donations for the Red Cross is support of rescue efforts of the Oso Mudslide.