Sounders FC

Melee costs Sounders' Riley a red card, has Schmid fuming

For Sounders FC defender James Riley, being sent off the pitch with a red card was one thing.

Having to explain it to his mom on Mother’s Day was something else.

“I take full responsibility,” Riley said. “It’s a red, so it’s a red. Obviously, people have their different interpretations, but I’m disappointed that I let my team play (a man down for) 30 minutes. We thought we let two points slip away. On Mother’s Day, you want to have a better result; and I’m sure my next phone call to my mom, she’ll have something to say.”

Riley’s red card was one of the key moments in Seattle’s 1-1 draw with the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday at Qwest Field.

Both goals already had been scored by the 57th minute when possession turned to Seattle. However, L.A.’s Gregg Berhalter grabbed the ball and held it, preventing the Sounders from restarting play.

Riley tried to take the ball, and a scuffle developed involving several players. At one point, Los Angeles’ Mike Mcgee grabbed Riley, and Riley responded by swinging his hand toward the back of Mcgee’s neck. It wasn’t quite a punch, and Riley initially drew only a yellow card. But after the referee conferred with his assistant, it was upgraded to red.

“It was definitely not a punch,” Riley said. “I was just trying to grab him because I thought he came in from behind me. But again, I take full responsibility. By no means do I ever intend to strike any player in the face or anywhere. That’s definitely not the intent, so I want to make that clear.”

If Riley’s mom wants a second opinion, coach Sigi Schmid noted that the Galaxy and referee Tim Weyland deserve their share of the blame.

“I guess (Berhalter) thought it was his free kick, I don’t know,” Schmid said. “Maybe he was momentarily confused or dazed, and the referee was confused and dazed. There ended up being a melee and a scrum. That’s about all I can say right now. I’ve known the referee for a long time. When I was coaching in college we were allowed to list a couple of referees who would not be put on your games. He hasn’t refereed many games that I’ve coached.

“The assistant referee told the referee that in his estimation it was a red for violent conduct. The other ref told him something else, but he chose to ignore that piece of advice. I’ll let you draw judgments on the refereeing.”

Either way, Riley was sent off and the Sounders played the final 33 minutes one man down. Riley also will have to miss Seattle’s next game, Saturday at FC Dallas. He also picked up his third yellow card of the season, and will be suspended for another game if his total reaches five.

Riley becomes the third Sounders player to pick up a red card this season, following goalkeeper Kasey Keller and leading scorer Fredy Montero, who served his one-game suspension Sunday. However, Schmid doesn’t yet see a trend that demands his attention.

“Kasey’s red (for a handball outside the penalty area), there’s nothing much you can say or do about that,” Schmid said. “Montero’s arm was up and the referee decided to make a harsh decision. Today, it’s tough for me because it happened so quickly. Maybe James (Riley) deserves a red card, but I can’t believe that there’s not another red card in that melee.”

The Sounders are 0-1-2 in the three games they have played shorthanded. By settling for one point Sunday, they lost ground to Western Conference leader Chivas USA, which added three points with a win over Real Salt Lake on Saturday.

Added time

The Galaxy goal in the 35th minute was the first goal allowed by Kasey Keller in 604 minutes of play in the city of Seattle for the Sounders and the U.S. national team. … The Sounders recorded their fifth sellout in as many games, and already have sold all tickets for their next four games. … Tickets to the Sounders’ July 18 friendly against Chelsea go on sale at 10 a.m. today. ... Sounders FC’s 4-2-2 record is the best by an MLS expansion team after eight games.

Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808