PORTLAND – When Pat Noonan missed his penalty kick Sunday at Philadelphia, he dropped Sounders FC to 0-for-3 all-time on PKs in Major League Soccer competition.
In contrast, opponents are 4-of-6 all-time on PKs taken against Seattle. And so far this season, there have been 25 penalty kicks taken in MLS, which have resulted in 21 goals (84 percent).
Yet despite a situation heavily weighted in favor of the kicker, Noonan joined all-stars Freddie Ljungberg and Fredy Montero as Sounders who have misfired from the dot 12 yards in front of the goal.
“It’s terrible,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. “Obviously, the guys who stepped up are the guys you expect to hit them. ... Those are all guys that you would call more goal-scoring type players and experienced players, and you expect them to get goals off of it. It hasn’t happened, and it’s very disappointing for me as a coach, for us as a team, and it’s something we want to rectify.”
The Sounders could get their chance tonight when they open defense of their Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title against the second-division Portland Timbers at PGE Park.
Because this is a loser-out competition, there must be a result. That means if the clubs are even at the end of regulation, there will be 30 minutes of extra time. And if the game remains tied, it will be decided by penalty kicks.
Schmid said before each game he designates two players to take penalty kicks – adding the second option because he doesn’t like the fouled player to take the PK.
In Philadelphia, however, things didn’t work out as planned.
“Peter Vagenas was supposed to take the PK,” Schmid said. “He passed it on to Noonan. Peter knows how I feel about that. … Pete was on the field, but he felt he was extremely tired at that stage and didn’t have the legs to do it. That’s something that he now has to live with.”
Schmid said additional factors are considered when selecting the players to take kicks at the end of regulation.
“You’ve got different players on the field at that point,” he said. “If you’ve got a guy cramping up you might not pick him even though he might be one of your five. You just have to see how the game goes, but usually I’ve got an idea who the five might be.”
Schmid knows about the issue first-hand because he used to take penalty kicks in his own playing days.
“It’s confidence,” he said. “You’ve got to believe that you’re going to score, that it’s going to go into the back of the net, and you sort of set your mind as to what you’re going to do. … Everybody does it differently. But at the end of the day, it’s all about confidence.”
Sounders reserve goalkeeper Terry Boss gave this analysis of his PK approach from the other side.
“It’s always nice to know a shooter’s tendencies, first and foremost,” he said. “Second, there’s a lot of visual cues as far as how far they are from the ball and the angle of their approach, sometimes watching their off-shooting hand – just a lot of visual cues that you’re trying to pick up on and get an overall feeling.”
Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808
SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC AT PORTLAND TIMBERS
7:30 p.m., PGE Park, Portland
TV: FSN. Radio: 97.3 FM (1210-AM in Spanish).
Head to head: The Sounders-Timbers rivalry dates to 1975, when both were in the North American Soccer League. The rivalry was renewed last season, when Seattle won at Portland, 2-1, in U.S. Open Cup. The clubs also played a preseason friendly at Qwest Field on March 11, which Portland won, 1-0.
Notes: Seattle is 4-7-3 in MLS, while Portland is 5-5-4 in U.S. Soccer’s second division. The Timbers have won three straight matches, including their 4-1 Open Cup victory last week over Kitsap. … A section of PGE Park has been designated for the several hundred Sounders supporters expected to travel down for the game.
Next in Open Cup: If the Sounders win, they advance to a quarterfinal match against either AC St. Louis of the second division on Tuesday or Los Angeles of MLS on July 7. Either game would be played at Starfire Sports Stadium in Tukwila.
Next in MLS: Seattle visits Los Angeles at 7:30 p.m. Sunday.