Penalty kicks in soccer are like mulligans in golf, Seattle Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said: You get only one.
The Sounders got theirs early against Chivas USA on Saturday. They didn’t take advantage of it. And when there was another close call that might have bailed them out in the final minutes, referee Kevin Stott chose not to blow his whistle.
As a result of that – and no shortage of other missed opportunities along the way – Seattle settled for its first scoreless draw of the season at CenturyLink Field.
“I thought (Chivas) had a little more of the game in the first half,” Schmid said. “Obviously, we had a penalty kick that we hit the post on, so that didn’t help us. And I guess penalties are like mulligans: You only get one per round. So once we used up our mulligan we weren’t allowed another one. I thought in the second half we came out a lot better.”
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The Sounders’ failed PK came in the 18th minute when an Alvaro Fernandez pass in the penalty area hit the arm of defender Michael Umana.
And for all the complaints about a non-call 71 minutes later, Sounders goalkeeper Kasey Keller thought his team might have gotten a generous whistle early.
“I didn’t think the first one was necessarily a penalty,” he said. “Those are very difficult calls. The handball in the box, really what could he have done? I was standing right there, and the guy kind of kicks it into his hand.”
Ultimately, it didn’t matter because Fernandez sent his shot low to the left post.
“I don’t think the problem had to do with the strength, it was more about the direction,” Fernandez said. “I shot right into the post, it bounced back onto the keeper and out. It was not that badly kicked, but it cost us the two points.”
It didn’t have to. The Sounders continued to get chances. Seattle ended with 10 shots to Chivas’ four. But while the Goats put three on goal, the Sounders managed only two – both handled by goalkeeper Dan Kennedy.
“We don’t seem to put both sides of the ball together,” Keller said. “We defend well, but then we don’t seem to attack with the same precision … And then when we’re kind of in that attack mode we don’t defend well. It’s all about putting it together. I liked what we did defensively today, and we created enough chances to win the game.”
The last obvious opportunity came in the 89th minute, when Nate Jaqua sent a pass into the box where Neagle made a couple of moves, seemed to break free, but then went down after a lunge by David Lopes.
“I think I got clipped,” Neagle said. “It kind of is what it is: calling two PKs in a game. I haven’t been known to dive in my life. I haven’t practiced it or anything. What can you do?”
Veteran Pat Noonan – who got his first start since July 15, 2010 – agreed that after one penalty kick is awarded, referees become more reluctant to call a second.
“No question – especially when you’re at home and you’ve had chances,” he said. “You can’t leave it in the referee’s hands that late in the game to make another PK call. It should’ve been put away long before that. Whether it was or it wasn’t, it’s not on the referee.”
The draw moves Seattle’s record to 11-5-9 this season. Chivas is 7-8-9.
“I thought we played really well in stretches, and I thought Seattle played really well in stretches,” Chivas coach Robin Fraser said. “But at the end of the day, I thought they created more dangerous chances than we did. I’d say we’d have to be quite content to take the point.”
The Sounders shift to CONCACAF Champions League competition Tuesday when Comunicaciones de Guatemala visits CenturyLink. Seattle returns to MLS play Saturday at FC Dallas.
See more of Peter Haley’s photos from the Sounders’ game against Chivas USA at blog.thenewstribune.com/photo