COLUMBUS, OHIO – A run of rough road ended for Sounders FC on Saturday, as Seattle played to a 1-1 draw with the Columbus Crew.
The result ended a stretch in which the Sounders played four of five games away from home, and they went 2-1-2 over the period.
“I was pleased getting a tie,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. “We took the lead early and were hoping to be able to hold on to it. Tired legs got the best of us in the second half. The Crew played with a lot of energy and pushed their players forward, so we had to hold on a little at the end.”
The Sounders broke ahead in the seventh minute on a give-and-go between Fredy Montero and Erik Friberg. Montero had the ball near midfield, passed to Friberg and darted toward the goal. Friberg carried the ball forward a few yards and then sent it high into the penalty area, where Montero ran on and headed it in off the right post.
“It was an important goal,” Schmid said. “He needed to score that one, and he needs to score many more. We need multi-goal games from him, and we need him to continue to raise his level. He’s a very important player for us. … It was a good cross by Friberg and a good header by Fredy.”
Unfortunately for the Sounders, that would be the only shot they put on goal all night.
And that shifted the pressure to the Seattle defense, which managed to preserve the lead for 60 minutes.
Columbus finally drew even on a sequence that started with Seattle dodging a bullet, as a ricocheting ball got behind goalkeeper Kasey Keller before being cleared away by Roger Levesque.
However, the clearance resulted in a corner kick for the Crew, and on that kick, defender Patrick Ianni was called for bringing down Chad Marshall.
“He got me,” Marshall said. “I’ve got marks all over me from his hands. I’m glad they called it.”
Schmid didn’t quite dispute that, but he still wasn’t happy.
“I’m not saying it wasn’t a penalty,” he said. “All I know is we played Wednesday in D.C. and one of our guys got wrapped up and body-slammed to the group. The referee was four yards away and there was no call.”
Emilio Renteria sent the PK past Keller, and the game was even.
“I thought (Keller) would have watched the video from last week’s penalty shot,” Renteria said. “So, I decided to shoot for the opposite post.”
Columbus dominated from there, but Seattle held on with the help of several diving saves by Keller.
The game was played in heavy rain before a crowd of 7,158.
“It was a sloppy game,” Seattle defender Jeff Parke told KONG-TV. “I thought we started off the game pretty well. I think in the second half they got the best of us. … That’s the kind of game it was tonight: sloppy, rainy and a battle.”
As promised in advance, Schmid shook up his usual starting lineup to provide some rest for a squad playing its third game in eight days.
The lineup was complicated by the unexpected loss of midfielder Brad Evans to a mild quad strain diagnosed shortly before kickoff.
Schmid returned Parke and Leo Gonzalez to the back line, gave rookie Servando Carrasco his second career start at midfield, and gave Levesque his first start of the season at forward, opposite Montero.
Seattle stands at 3-3-4 after 10 games. Schmid moved to 3-0-3 against his former team. Columbus (3-1-4) extended its unbeaten streak to seven games.
“In the end, it’s a good point,” Keller said. “They were pushing for the win and had a number of corners at the end. We hung on and in the end it was a good point. I think we faded a little bit at the end, but it’s normal.”
The Sounders return to action Saturday when the Portland Timbers visit Qwest Field.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.