Two defensive misplays involving goalkeeper Kasey Keller doomed Sounders FC to a 2-1 loss to Saprissa of Costa Rica on Tuesday, ending the Sounders’ seven-game winning streak and sentencing Seattle to last place in CONCACAF Champions League Group C.
After the game, Keller sent word that he wouldn’t be available to the media but that he took responsibility for the errors.
“Nobody is harder on Kasey than himself,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. “He’s saved us too many times: I’m not going to get on his case here. He’s a pro. Nobody is more disappointed than he is. He’ll sort it out, and it’s probably good to get it out of the way now.”
The Sounders went into the game knowing that they couldn’t advance to the tournament’s next round. So, Schmid went with a lineup composed mostly of reserves – and he had planned to go with No. 2 keeper Terry Boss in goal.
However, Boss suffered an undisclosed injury in Monday training. Keller was informed Tuesday morning that he might be needed, and he found out for sure that evening.
“Sometimes it can be (difficult),” Schmid said. “But he’d done so many things as a pro, I’m sure he’s been in that situation.”
Seattle, which hadn’t lost since Sept. 22 to Monterrey, started strong and went ahead in the 17th minute when Saprissa defenders couldn’t control a ball played into the top of their penalty area. Finally, it pinballed to Nate Jaqua, who finished.
“It was kind of one that just shot at my feet, and I didn’t even know where it was going to go,” Jaqua said. “Luckily, it ended up in the back of the net.”
Saprissa drew even in the 26th minute as Seattle’s Zach Scott tried to shield a ball rolling near the top of the penalty area until Keller could come out and scoop it. However, the play took too long, the ball got past Keller, and Saprissa’s Jairo Arrieta tapped it into the open net.
The score stayed even until the 87th minute, when a shot by David Guzman went through Keller’s hands, kissed off the near post and trickled across the goal line.
“Obviously, it’s always disappointing when you give up a late goal like that,” Schmid said. “That’s the way it was today. I don’t think for us it was a particularly good game. There were times when we created some chances and we were effective. But overall our possession of the ball wasn’t what it usually is – wasn’t good.”
The result sends Saprissa through to the knockout round, as the Costa Rican club finished 3-2-1, second in the group behind Monterrey.
“We never lost hope,” coach Roy Myers said through a translator. “We knew it’s never over until it’s over. We also knew that if we kept trying, we could score.”
The game was played before a crowd of 11,434, the smallest ever to watch the Sounders at Qwest Field – but the 10th largest in Champions League this season.
Seattle closed group play with a 1-5 record. However, the club already has qualified for next season’s Champions League by virtue of its U.S. Open Cup title.
“There were only four MLS teams that were in this tournament, and only three teams from (the United States),” Schmid said. “So, it’s an honor to be in that exclusive group – especially as a (young) franchise. You learn every time you play. We learned something today. The guys learned something about themselves, something about ourselves as a team. And all of those experiences are going to make you better as you move forward.”
With non-MLS competition behind them for the remainder of the season, the Sounders will return today to training for their regular-season-ending game Saturday at Houston.