Sounders Insider

Updates on news, views and developments of the South Sound soccer scene.


Don Ruiz joined The News Tribune in 1988 and has been covering sports since 1999. He is a long-time recreational soccer player and has covered the 1999 Women's World Cup championship game and a variety of international, national and local soccer matches. E-mail Don.

Jon Billings is the director of communications for the Tacoma Tide. He'll be providing news, notes and updates on the Tide. E-mail Jon.

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The News Tribune's soccer blog
Saturday, April 11th, 2009
Posted by Don Ruiz @ 06:05:38 pm

Here's my game story.

The Sounders gave up their first goal, lost their first game, fell out of first place for the first time, and lost their star keeper to a red card which also will keep him out of next Saturday's game with the now-first-place Chivas USA.

Quite a night at Qwest for the 28,746 in attendance.

“I think the thing I’m most proud of is we played a man down for (61) minutes, and Kansas City is celebrating quite extensively at the end of the game,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “And that shows how much respect we’ve already garnered in this league. If they’re really excited about playing a man up for (61) minutes and winning a 1-0 squeaker, it shows that there’s a lot of respect for what we’ve done as a team so far.”

Kansas City certainly seemed to take it that way.

"This is a great win for us," said Davy Arnaud, who scored the lone goal. "They had a great start, they are a very good team, and we knew that coming in. It is a very good thing for the league when new teams come in and the fans support the way they do. It's all very positive. Obviously, it ended with a good result for us."

The key sequence came in the 29th minute when Wizards midfielder Herculez Gomez sped past Seattle defender Zach Scott. Facing Gomez one-on-one, Keller charged out of the penalty area and swung one elbow into the ball, deflecting it.

That may have saved the goal, but at high cost: an immediate red card for Keller, who had been in his 299th MLS minute without having allowed a goal.

“It was difficult,” Keller said. “I’ve not been sent off in 17 years, so it felt kind of strange when I saw that red card come out. Rules are rules I guess, but my arms weren’t out wide, they were kind of up against my chest. But like I said, rules are rules, it hit me in the arms, and I was sent off.”

Keller was replaced by rookie Ben Dragavon, who drew his first MLS action after playing at Monroe High School, Western Washington University and the USL Sounders. Dragavon is on the roster as what MLS called an “extreme hardship call-up,” which is allowed when a team has fewer than two available goalkeepers. He is, in effect, the Sounders’ No. 3 goalkeeper behind Keller and top reserve Chris Eylander, who returned to practice this week after suffering a preseason knee injury.

He and the Sounders held off the Wizards for 51 minutes, with Dragavon making a couple of saves along the way. But in the 80th minute, Arnaud unleashed a low sizzler from about 30 yards out, and it beat the diving Dragavon low and to his right.

“It started off coming at me then it just broke off,” Dragavon said. “… I got a hand on it. I actually thought I got enough to push it around the post, but it hit the side netting. It’s rough.”

The Sounders' loss and Chivas USA's draw with the LA Galaxy moved Chivas one point ahead of the Sounders in the MLS Western Conference standings.

Seattle returns to action at 7:30 p.m. Saturday ... at Chivas.

According to MLS rules, Keller must sit out that game, too. However, Eylander said he should be ready.

Final: Kansas City wins, 1-0. And as I type this, Chivas and the Galaxy are tied in Los Angeles. If that result holds, Chivas will move one point ahead of the Sounders in the MLS West.

I'll be back with notes and quotes.

Meanwhile, how did it look to you.

80th minute: The Sounders' scoreless streak ended 350 minutes into their history as Kansas City's Davy Arnaud whistled a 30-yard whistler past emergency keeper Ben Dragavon to put the Wizards ahead, 1-0.

Halftime: Nil-nil. Kansas City seems to have somewhat the better run of play. No real good chances for the Sounders, with their best being off of a couple of set pieces.

29th minute: Kasey Keller was called for an intentional handball outside the box on a Kansas City breakaway. That's an automatic red card, so now Ben Dragavon is in goal for the Sounders, who are playing short-handed (Sebastien Le Toux went off).

Kickoff: The Sounders' fourth-ever game has begun. Wizards in blue jerseys and white pants, Sounders in their home green/blue.

There is a pretty stiff breeze, and it seems to be at the Sounders' backs at the start.

Golden scarf: Tonight's Golden Scarf has been awarded to Microsoft/Xbox executive Robbie Bach.

6:50: We've gotten the starting lineup, and with it, the answer to our question. Fredy and Freddie are in and Steve Zakuani goes to the bench, despite a goal and an assist over the rookie's last two games.

Here's the lineup: GK Keller, DF Riley, Hurtado, Marshall, Scott; MD Le Toux, Alonso, Ljungberg, Evans; FW Montero, Jaqua.

Here's the Wiz: GK Hartman, DF Watson, Conrad, Hohlbein, Besler; MD Gomez, Hirsig, Jewsbury, Wolff; FW Arnaud, Lopez.

6 p.m. I'm at Qwest Field on a breezy evening, but one with occasional sun breaks. Gates have just opened. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. The game will be shown live on KONG 6/16. Here's my pregame report from this morning's paper.

For those of you about to leave for the stadium, note the traffic alert from a few posts below. Things weren't bad when I entered the garage, but I was real early.

The plan is for me to keep the blog alive -- or at least on alert -- most of the evening. I'll pop in with lineups and any other pregame news, then will give in-game reports, including alerts on all goals. Then I'll return after the game with notes and quotes. And I'm sure hoping you guys will pop in with some good in-game or postgame discussion as you did last week from the Toronto game.

Categories: Major League Soccer 20 comments


EverydayFan @ 22:35 - Saturday, April 11th, 2009 Email
That was $&@$&@!
How do you send off the best goalie in the history of U S soccer for, essentially, 2 games? MLS is totally clueless.
Don Ruiz @ 22:56 - Saturday, April 11th, 2009 Email
Schmid's reaction to the red card: "I think Kasey was trying to get his hand out of the way of the ball. I thought the referee missed a number of hand balls in the first half – that was the only one he saw. But it was a handball, it was outside the box, that was what was going to happen."
ryanhealy @ 23:02 - Saturday, April 11th, 2009 Email
I just got home from the match. Zack Scott is terrible.

I don't know what else to say.
derekyoung @ 23:08 - Saturday, April 11th, 2009 Email
I have to disagree on the Keller Red Card. That's as automatic as it gets. He's outside the box and used this hands to break up a scoring opportunity. It would have been outrageous not to make that call... Keller knew it the second it happened.

However, this is ironically the best we've seen from SSFC thus far. They dominated the game and just couldn't quite get the ball between thpipes but created plenty of opportunities. Playing a man down they actually looked better than when La Toux left off and Alonso once again gave a masterful performance. Montero and Ljunberg both had some dazzling moves and great turns. Jaqua also surprised with some fancy footwork. I was a little surprised by the lineup but I think maybe Sigi was as frustrated as I was with some weird decisions Zakuani made last week.

Although we lost, I think this cements SSFC as a dangerous team. Did everyone else notice how defensive they KC played right out of the gate? It's clear the rest of the MLS has noticed.

Great game, exciting to watch throughout. I can't wait for next week's matchup with Chivas.
derekyoung @ 23:12 - Saturday, April 11th, 2009 Email
Ryan, I agree Scott is consistently a letdown. How many times is he going to let his man cross before challenging him? Mark your man for crying out loud. Sometimes he looks confused as to what he's supposed to be doing. I don't know about who we have in reserve back there, but I'd like to see them get some time soon.

BTW one other thing I forgot to mention, Marshall is really growing on me. He had some impressive moves today and I loved him defending the backup keeper (can't remember his name now.)
Don Ruiz @ 23:53 - Saturday, April 11th, 2009 Email
No one in the locker room really seemed to have a problem with the call.
joepublic @ 00:24 - Sunday, April 12th, 2009 Email
Keller is fudging. On TV you could clearly see that he put his arms up to parry the ball. It was a surprisingly stupid move on his part -- he knew full well it would result in a sendoff, and that sendoffs come with a one-game suspension. Worth noting it was also the third time in the game to that point that a KC attacker had gotten behind or between the Sounders' center backs.

Meantime, this was my first time watching the KONG broadcast. Holy cow, Colabro is brutal! I respect that he's a NW institution and a familiar voice and all that, but the man clearly knows almost nothing about soccer. It doesn't help that he is doing radio at the same time, so he has to talk too much for TV.
YeeHaawks @ 07:15 - Sunday, April 12th, 2009 Email
While we had our chances, we failed to finish on several opportunities. We could of easily won that game 3-1. With that said the officiating was horrid!! I can't believe we surrendered that goal. How painful it was. Chivas next week, get stuck in guys!!
Don Ruiz @ 10:01 - Sunday, April 12th, 2009 Email
The crowd reaction to the goal was really interesting. Kinda like, hey, wait, what was that?
Don Ruiz @ 10:04 - Sunday, April 12th, 2009 Email
And here's a little more Keller reaction, that I didn't get into the paper.

"I thought my arms were in enough where it wouldn’t be an issue, but I guess not. ... It’s one of the rules that we have to play with, and obviously in hindsight I just stay on my line and save the one on one. You make split-second situations and unfortunately I paid the price for that one."
EverydayFan @ 11:14 - Sunday, April 12th, 2009 Email
Yeah, ok. Having watched it on DVR / slow motion, Keller flinched at the last second and the shot glanced off his arm.
Still, it was a bang-bang play on he pitch.
The real problem was, clearly, on the defense ... Scott and Evans seemed way out of position on long balls and crosses from the back - Keller had to make an amazing save practically off the kick-off, then the same type of play the second time leaves Keller so exposed on the breakaway that he has to try to turn himself into a field player and the whole thing explodes.
I also think we missed Zakuani's speed on the wing, he's so fast I've seen him stuff breakaways all the way down into the box.
I'm sure Schmid will make the adjustments. I loved his fiery quote, too, calling out KC for jumping up and down about playing a man up for 61 minutes and barely winning 1 nil. Great coach to play for.
Don Ruiz @ 11:27 - Sunday, April 12th, 2009 Email
I actually wanted to ask you guys about the lineup change... with all the other stuff, it kind of fell off the radar a bit.

I did get a Sigi Schmid quote on how he thought that change went, and I'll add that later in another post.

But really, even before the ejection, I thought the Sounders were having their toughest time of the young season.
ryanhealy @ 11:32 - Sunday, April 12th, 2009 Email
I didn't like the offense without Zakuani. I thought the loss of speed on the wing and another guy who is very creative with the ball was noticeable. Although, it's really hard to tell the real impact of that lineup when they played a man down for 2/3 of the match.
ProblemSolved @ 13:47 - Sunday, April 12th, 2009 Email
Well, watched my first MLS Sounders game and I have already set reminders for the next two games. It was fun to watch, even though they seemed to be behind the 8 ball after Keller left. I did like that they were agressive while being a man down and with their 3rd strig keeper in.

My only soccer watching experience is a few old NASL Sounder games as a kid, a lot of Stars games, and World Cup games. I found myself completely into this game and I look forward to better showings in the future. I guess it's nice to have a horse in the race, someone to root for.

With all that, I'll say that I am a convert, I'm in. No more soccer jokes, except it would be sweet if they just picked the ball up and threw it or ran the ball across the goal line.
EverydayFan @ 13:53 - Sunday, April 12th, 2009 Email
It's hard to say about the line-up.
I'll be interested to hear Schmid's take. Prior to Keller's ejection, they seemed sluggish - Montero didn't seem as disruptively dangerous as he had been. But I think that was partly due to KC's completely defensive posture at the start of the game. There were numerous times when KC had all 11 men fall back behind the mid-field stripe. They were packing the lanes, like teams do in basketball. But the Sounders had started to figure it out and I think it was only a matter of time, but when you take Le Toux out if the mix you lose one of your best offensive assist leaders, and the best at taking corners and set pieces - the equivalant of making the other team pay for packing the lanes, like converting free throws in hoops, so it's impossible to tell. Zakuani's speed would have forced some overplays and created some opportunities, as it always does.
derekyoung @ 13:59 - Sunday, April 12th, 2009 Email
I agree with EF, the early sluggishness had more to do with the absurd KC defense. I'm troubled by that. If other teams want to play us for the tie, that's their issue and it means we'll lose few games. But it makes for boring soccer which is, I think, what most people are reacting to rather than something SSFC was doing wrong.
EverydayFan @ 16:16 - Sunday, April 12th, 2009 Email
Yo D,
Let 'em try to pack it in ... Nothing's going to be boring for long when Ljungberg, Montero, and Jaq have a full side behind them ...
Last night just became too many changes at once to deal with ... you're already in a new line-up for the first time, then you lose your captain, then you lose Le Toux, now you have to figure it all out covering for a missing man and knowing you've got a rookie in the net.
And then they go and do it - just 10 minutes from a legendary win.
I'm pumped by whole thing - can't wait to see how they respond.
Don Ruiz @ 18:48 - Sunday, April 12th, 2009 Email
As first losses go, there were some encouraging things to mitigate that one.

However, one loss is one thing. Two straight is another. Which just makes the Chivas trip next weekend all the more interesting.
abt @ 20:51 - Sunday, April 12th, 2009 Email
Sounders were giving up way too much room on the left - maybe that's just Scott, but it's the midfield too. So is that Evans? KC had wide open spaces coming down on their right.
Please fix it, Sigi.
kyledmb @ 07:18 - Monday, April 13th, 2009 Email
yeah scott and evans on the same side was awful. we need to do something about our left side, to just last game, but every game so far has exploited this weakness.

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