Sounders muster a 2-2 draw with Cascadia Cup rivals Vancouver Whitecaps that still raises more questions than answers for the Rave Green.
Vancouver’s French designated player Eric Hassli drained the joy from the Sounders when he fired a wonder strike in the 85th minute to draw the Whitecaps even just minutes after Seattle had gone ahead.
Final tally: Sounders 2 and Whitecaps 2.
For Sounders supporters, it was a disappointing result. But it was probably a fair one. Seattle didn’t do enough to win the match. For most of the 90 minutes, the Sounders fell behind and chased the game, thanks to an Osvaldo Alonso foul in the penalty box that resulted in Hassli’s first score in the 29th minute.
The game certainly generated some controversial moments — thanks to some questionable refereeing. Forward Mike Fucito had beat the last defender and was veering straight for the goal when he got tripped in the box at the last minute by a trailing defender. It seemed like a clear penalty in the 44th minute, but referee Mark Geiger said no.
Coach Sigi Schmid clearly was unhappy with the call.
I cant talk to the referee when he runs off the field and is afraid to talk to me,” Schmid said. “He waited and made detours to shake their players hands, but twice both at halftime and at the end of the game he knew I wanted to talk to him and he just walked away, so obviously he must have felt bad.
Still, the Sounders lacked attacking flair. Most of the first-half offense was generated by Mauro Rosales. He launched a number of dangerous crosses from his wide spot on the right side.
But even his crosses proved to be too predictable when neither Fredy Montero, Fucito nor Brad Evans could break down the center of Vancouver’s defense.
Rosales, one of the few battlers for the Sounders, saw his hard work pay off. He scored his first goal to tie the game in the 81st minute — slotting home a rebound from inside the six-yard box.
I thought (Rosales) was good,” Schmid said. “Thought he was sharp. He was a handful for them. I thought he was very effective on the right.”
Just three minutes later, Alonso followed Rosales with his own superb strike to put the Sounders up for the first time in the game. It seemingly made up for his earlier mistake that led to the penalty, when he scored from 22 yards out with his left foot, in the 84th minute.
The stadium started shaking and it seemed that the Sounders would manage the game and earn three points.
The elation was short lived. A routine pass to Alonso near the right corner of the 18-yard box was misplayed and ended on the foot of the 6-foot-4 Hassli. He flicked the ball up on his right foot and and then ripped it into the far left corner of the Sounders’ goal — an incredible strike that should not have happened.
Thats as nice a goal as youre ever going to see,” said keeper Kasey Keller. “Hes obviously been one of the top guys in the league this season. Hes a great player for them and he scored a great goal for them at a great time in a big game.
For the Sounders, the 2-2 draw accurately reflects the reality of a ragged and sputtering effort. Few of the starters stepped it up tonight to show their Cascadia Cup rivals who, in the words of Schmid, was “top dog.”
In fact, based on two mediocre draws against Portland and now Vancouver, Seattle certainly cannot claim top-dog status among its Cascadia Cup rivals.
But it can claim third place in the Western Conference, good enough for a playoff spot, and it still buys the team time to find its rhythm. There’s still plenty of soccer left to play.
I thought we had more of the game for most of the night,” Schmid said. “I thought we had a bunch of good chances, half chances.
“I thought the soccer we played at times was very good. We eventually got the lead, then we made a mistake in the back and Hassli makes an unbelievable shot. So you walk away 2-2. For the gist of the game, I thought we were the better team.