Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid wanted energy, and his new lineup gave it to him Sunday.
But he also might have gotten even more youthful enthusiasm than he wanted, and that came back to haunt his team which gave up a late shorthanded goal and settled for a 1-1 draw with FC Dallas before a sellout crowd at Qwest Field.
“(The result is) just disappointing, because I thought that we put the right team out there, and I thought that we came out and played with a lot of energy,” Schmid said. “I thought we played well. In the first half, we scored a good goal and we had some other good chances. We felt we could continue the same way. I thought the red card obviously had a big impact on this game.”
Schmid shook up his lineup by moving two rookies into his starting midfield: second-round pick Michael Seamon and 19-year-old Miguel Montaño. One took the spot of veteran Pete Vagenas by coach’s decision, the other started for designated player Freddie Ljungberg, who tweaked an ankle in training last week.
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For better and worse, both rookies figured prominently in what played out: Seamon assisting the Sounders’ goal, and Montano leaving his team a man down after picking up a controversial red card in the 56th minute.
Montano had become tangled with Dallas’ Brek Shea, and seemed to send an elbow into the back of Shea’s head as they went down on the touchline.
“(I) was falling down,” Montano said through an interpreter. “(My) intention was not to hit him – it was the motion of (my) body and if (I) made contact, it was not (my) intention. There was no explanation: I was surprised there was a red card because I thought it was just the reaction of my body as I was falling.”
After watching replay, Schmid said he thought the action might have merited a red card, although he also believed Shea embellished the damage.
However, goalkeeper Kasey Keller was more straightforward.
“I even asked (referee Kevin Stott) after the game, ‘Did it really need to be a red card? Was it that violent?’ I haven’t seen it on tape yet, but surely it wasn’t that kind of game at all,” Keller said. “You watch the World Cup final today, the great job Howard Webb did (with such a rough and important game). An MLS ref, there would’ve been six guys left on the field that game today. You got to just have a little common sense involved and say it wasn’t that big of a deal. No one got punched. It’s just a couple, little fracas, yellow cards, call it even. It’s just so frustrating.”
Shea was booed on each touch thereafter.
The Sounders rode their energy to a lead in the 15th minute. The play began with Seamon sending a ball on to James Riley, who carried down the right side before sending a towering cross to Fredy Montero, who finished on a header from about 12 yards.
Despite the free-flowing, up-and-down pace, that lead held for a long time.
Part of the reason was a brilliant diving save that sent Keller sprawling into the goal after knocking away a David Ferreira sizzler in the 71st minute.
However, Ferreira had another on-target strike in him, and that one equalized for Dallas (5-2-6).
It came in the 87th minute, after a give-and-go between Ferreira and Heath Pearce lost Seattle’s Riley and Sanna Nyassi.
“That’s a brilliant, brilliant goal by him,” Riley said. “Myself or Sanna should have got a bump on him to avoid the 1-2. So we take responsibility there. It’s one of those things where we had been defending for a half hour. We dodged a couple of bullets. Kasey came up big on a great save. I thought the luck was finally turning for us.”
The Sounders (4-8-4) return to MLS play Thursday at D.C. United, where they will be joined by striker Blaise Nkufo, who recently completed duty with the Swiss World Cup team.