Superb goalkeeper Sounders’ undoing

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.comJuly 8, 2013 

Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid says Vancouver’s Brad Knighton turned in what was probably the best goalkeeping performance Seattle has seen this season in the Whitecaps’ 2-0 win Saturday.

Knighton himself went further.

“That’s the best game I’ve ever played, by far, hands down,” he said after the match at BC Place.

However, after pausing to praise Knighton, the Sounders also stressed that they should have finished their chances in a way that no goalkeeper could have stopped.

“He did a good job, but we still had way too many chances to not score one goal,” midfielder Lamar Neagle said. “He did well; he had a good game. He came out and pressured us at the right times. But still, I had two chances and I should have (finished) both of them.”

Neagle had company. Seattle took 16 shots — matching its season-high — and put seven on target. Obafemi Martins fired six shots, Eddie Johnson took four, Neagle and Zach Scott had two each, and Shalrie Joseph and Brad Evans tried one — all without success.

“We couldn’t have created any more chances,” Evans said. “We had the chances. We just didn’t finish them. So, bottom line is finish your chances, but also keep it tight in the defense. Two bouncing balls cost us the game. We got scored on early, now you’re chasing; push guys forward and get scored on late, that’s the difficult part of it.”

Vancouver’s goals came from Kenny Miller in the fourth minute and Darren Mattocks in the 79th.

The result moved Vancouver (8-5-5) into fourth place in the MLS Western Conference race, while dropping Seattle (7-6-3) to seventh. The top five teams in each conference qualify for the playoffs. However, the Sounders have played the fewest games in the Western Conference, and their average of 1.5 points a game is Schmid’s annual minimum target for playoff qualification.

Seattle returns to league play Saturday at San Jose, which has problems of its own. The Earthquakes (5-9-6) will be without reigning Golden Boot winner Chris Wondolowski, who will play for the U.S. national team Tuesday when it begins CONCACAF Gold Cup play in Portland against Belize.

Meanwhile, the Sounders hope to add players by the weekend. Schmid indicated that defensive midfielder Osvaldo Alonso (quad) should be “100 percent ready” by Saturday after being held out at Vancouver. Schmid also expects defender DeAndre Yedlin (shoulder) to be in the mix as a starter after coming off the bench for 11 minutes against the Whitecaps.

“The team’s playing great,” midfielder Joseph said Saturday. “With Eddie and Oba, you just got to slide them in and play their feet and they’re so comfortable on the ball. Once you get them the ball, they’ll score; they’ll get a shot on goal. I expect better from them next week.”

ADDED TIME

No Sounders were among the 10 players fans voted to the MLS All-Star Fan XI. Fans selected goalkeeper Raul Fernandez (Dallas), defenders Matt Besler (Kansas City), Aurelien Collin (Kansas City) and Omar Gonzalez (Los Angeles); midfielders Brad Davis (Houston), Will Johnson (Portland), Mike Magee (Chicago) and Graham Zusi (Kansas City); and forwards Thierry Henry (New York) and Wondolowski. The final All-Star game-day roster will be selected by All-Star coach Peter Vermes of host Sporting Kansas City. The MLS All-Stars will face AS Roma on July 31 at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan. … In a Reserve League match Sunday at Vancouver, the Sounders lost 4-0. All of the Whitecaps’ goals came after halftime.

Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com

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