BY Adam Lewis 11:45PM 06/20/2012

Montero’s mystery miss leaves Sounders tied

Different lineup.  Same discouraging results.

Fredy Montero lined a strike that streaked across the goalmouth but never found net in the 88th minute, leaving the Sounders and Sporting Kansas City to a physical 1-1 draw Wednesday night at CenturyLink Field.

Trying their 15th lineup in as many matches, this time with backup Andrew Weber in goal, the Sounders (7-4-4) outshot KC 16-7 but were unable to capitalize on numerous scoring chances.  The draw extended Seattle’s winless streak to six games as they continued a grueling stretch of 7 matches in 22 days.

The Sounders’ best chance to end more than a month of frustration came in the game’s final moments.  After receiving a perfectly placed cross just before stoppage time, Montero crushed a shot that hit the far post, glanced off goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen before sailing along the goal line, then nicked off the far post. Sporting KC  (9-3-2) quickly cleared the rebound while the 46,932 fans in attendance stood stunned.

“We had a good chance in the second half when Montero hit the post — hits both posts — on the shot,” head coach Sigi Schmid said of his team’s final shot to pick up three points. “It gave us a good opportunity.”

Sporting KC midfielder Jacob Peterson opened the scoring seven minutes into the game by fielding a rebound off his own throw-in with a hard volley past Weber into the upper right corner of the net.  Eight minutes later, the Sounders responded when midfielder Mauro Rosales slammed a free-kick into Sporting KC’s box.

Inserted into the starting lineup after being out since May 5 with a back injury, defender Patrick Ianni scored his first goal of the season with an airborne, side-winding bicycle volley past Nielsen to knot the game at one.

“(I’m) happy with the fact that we were able to come back from going down a goal. It was better than a good goal by Patrick Ianni,” Schmid said.

The second half became more physical.  Scoring chances became scarce as both clubs combined for only three shots on target.

Seattle substitute Alvaro Fernandez capped a night of frustration by pointlessly tackling Sporting KC midfielder Roger Espinoza from behind in stoppage time.  The infraction earned him a red card and left the Sounders a man short.

Schmid’s frustration with the officiating boiled over in his post-game press conference.  Sporting KC and the Sounders combined for four yellow cards and a red in a match that involved numerous chippy altercations.

The physicality kept him from giving Steve Zakuani his first appearance since he suffered a broken leg almost 14 months ago against the Colorado Rapids.

“One of the reasons I didn’t come with (Zakuani) was because of the physical nature of the game and the referee really wasn’t protecting players,” Schmid said of his decision to sit his former leading scorer.  “I didn’t think that was a good environment to throw him into in his first game.”

Starting in place of Bryan Meredith, who was starting in place of Michael Gspurning, Weber made a diving stop in the 70th minute to help the Sounders avoid losing consecutive matches for the first time this season.  The native Texan showcased a bit of his state’s swagger after his first start for the Rave Green.

“I felt really good coming for balls,” he said. “It’s just going to get better. It’s been since 2009 since I’ve played in a good, competitive game, but the energy of the fans and the atmosphere was great. Hopefully we can build on that and just keep rolling.”

Despite the result, Schmid sounded encouraged with his club’s ability to bounce back after dropping a 4-1 decision to the Montreal Impact on Saturday.

“I think it was a good response,” he said.  “We didn’t lose two games in a row. We’ve avoided that for a long time and I thought our response that way was good.  We’re on a streak right now that’s not a good streak, but I’m very confident that we’re close to climbing out of it.”

The Sounders travel to Portland for a 2 p.m. Sunday match against the Cascadia Cup rival Timbers.


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