Testing itself against perhaps the best soccer team in the world, Seattle Sounders FC got schooled Wednesday at Qwest Field.
A crowd of 66,848 – the largest ever to watch a soccer match in Washington – saw FC Barcelona have its way with the first-year MLS team, 4-0.
“I think tonight was a good lesson,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. “We’re realistic. We know where we’re at and we’re also an expansion team that’s starting to get to know each other, and I think there were certain guys who stepped up and played well.”
Lionel Messi broke the game open with a pair of first-half goals. Both sides went with reserves in the second half.
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Messi is considered among the top handful of players on the planet. And lined up against him was Leonardo Gonzalez, making his Seattle debut after concluding duty with the Costa Rica national team.
“I thought (Gonzalez) did some good things for us offensively,” Schmid said. “I thought he got forward at times. You could see his passing that he could provide for us. Obviously, he got done by Messi on that goal, but as I said to (assistant coach) Brian Schmetzer, I said, ‘Messi’s done a few other guys that make more money than Leo.’ ”
Messi opened the scoring in the 21st minute with a 23-yard shot that bent out of the reach of Sounders goalkeeper Kasey Keller.
In the 43rd minute, Messi chested down a lob pass into the box from Thierry Henry and then left-footed it past the onrushing keeper.
“You have probably the best attacking player in the world of the past six, seven years in Henry, and the future best attacking player in the world on the other side in Messi,” Keller said.
“And not to mention the rest of the cast isn’t too bad either. The movement off the ball, the first touch, it was just an absolute lesson, and hopefully a pleasure for the fans who got to see the best team in the world.”
Messi put Barcelona two up at halftime, but Barca also had outshot Seattle 16-3 and put seven shots on goal to Seattle’s one.
Still, Seattle had some first-half chances. Gonzalez led an aggressive run in the opening minutes, which concluded with Nate Jaqua weakly striking a shot inside the area. Fredy Montero and Freddie Ljungberg also had chances.
When the teams came back onto the pitch for the start of the second half, Barcelona subbed all 11 players. Seattle swapped out 10 players – the lone holdover was defender James Riley, who received a red card Sunday at San Jose and therefore will be ineligible Saturday when the Sounders return to league play at Real Salt Lake.
Riley came out in the 61st minute, leaving nothing but reserves on the pitch for the final half hour.
In the 75th minute, Jeffren Suarez scored from close range past No. 2 keeper Terry Boss. Pedro Rodriguez concluded the scoring in the 89th minute.
“I knew (Seattle) was a very dynamic team with a strong attack, particularly players like (Jaqua, Ljungberg and Montero),” Barca coach Pep Guardiola said. “I knew about their 4-1-3-2 tactic structure, and my objective was always to move a lot and make the other team move a lot as well in the middle so we could take advantage of outside.
“Of course, I’m very happy with the result.”
Barcelona is beginning training for a new season, after taking the UEFA Champions League, La Liga and Copa del Rey last season.
The Spanish team plays its home games in the largest stadium in Europe, but still came away impressed with the Qwest Field crowd.
“Usually the crowd is cheering us on, happy to see us and they wear the Barcelona jersey,” Henry said.
“The fans were happy to see us, but also they wanted their team to win and they came to support their team. That’s what you do when you support your team, so it was kind of nice to see that to be honest.”
Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808
Wednesday’s Sounders-Barcelona match was the 10th match in the United States since July 1 to attract 50,000 or more.
93,1378/1Pasadena, Calif.L.A. Galaxy vs. Barcelona
82,2527/19Arlington, TexasMexico vs. Haiti*
81,2247/21Pasadena, Calif.Chelsea vs. Inter Milan
79,1567/26East Rutherford, N.J.USA vs. Mexico*
71,2037/24BaltimoreChelsea vs. AC Milan
66,8488/6 SeattleSounders vs. Barcelona
65,2897/18SeattleSounders vs. Chelsea
57,2297/26Arlington, TexasChelsea vs. Club America
55,1737/23ChicagoMexico vs. Costa Rica*
50,3067/22AtlantaClub America vs. AC Milan