By Cory Ritzau
Wednesday night was no doubt a bitter pill to swallow for Sounders players and fans alike. Penalty kicks are tough enough to take in and of themselves, combined with some questionable decisions along the way, and it is no doubt a tough way to lose with a trophy on the line.
As is often the case in cup finals, the game was a bit of a feeling out process, with the quality of soccer not on the highest of levels. The Sounders can take a bit of solace in the fact that they went 120 minutes without allowing a goal from the run of play, and despite Sporting’s numerous shots, not too many posed a serious threat to the net of Michael Gspurning.
Michael Gspurning – 7 – Gspurning played well to not allow a goal from the run of play. He stopped two of the six (or should I say three of seven) penalty kicks he faced and frankly it should have been enough. Perhaps most disappointing on the final penalty call was that he used the same technique and positioning that he had for the previous five PK’s he faced and nothing was called.
Zach Scott – 6.5 – Dealing with Kei Kamara is no small task, and with the big winger attacking down his wing Scott did well to keep him at bay for much of the game. The handball that was called on him was a bit unlucky, but he did well to respond with a nice header just moments after his mistake.
Patrick Ianni – 5.5 – The biggest attribute he provided on the night was quality service out of the back. With Alonso being tracked by Espinoza all over the field, Ianni was relied upon to start the attack with quality long balls to the next level of attack. Given the physical nature of the game, his two cautions could be called harsh, but in the end didn’t hurt the team.
JK Hurtado – 6 – Hurtado’s speed was a good matchup for Bunbury, and he kept the targetman quiet for much of the game. His positioning was solid and escaped the game without any key mistakes.
Leo Gonzalez – 6 – Gonzalez was very active on the left side. He had a number of timely tackles to thwart a developing Sporting KC attack and found himself well positioned when isolated on the back post.
Alex Caskey – 5 – Caskey had a quiet night on the left. With the attack being generated primarily through Rosales on the right, Caskey could have done better to make himself a target on the weak side but frankly he did little to impact the game on the night.
Andy Rose – 4.5 – Rose did well to provide cover in defense when needed, but lacked the ability to unlock the defense and generate attack. With Alonso being shadowed, Rose needed to be more assertive in demanding the ball and providing distribution.Osvaldo Alonso– 5 – His early card was not the smartest decision he made, but he rebounded to play well in defensive support. With Espinoza serving as a tail on the Cuban for the evening, he was not able to figure much in attack. His penalty was no doubt poorly taken to say the least.
Mauro Rosales – 6.5 – Mauro had a great set piece that found the head of Scott and was relied upon as the primary playmaker as Rose and Montero had quiet nights offensively.
Fredy Montero – 4 – Montero failed to make an imprint on the game, and in all honesty could have come off much sooner. Too often the game would go long stretches of time without striker getting his foot on the ball and even when he was, he failed to generate much offense out of his few opportunities.
Eddie Johnson – 6 – He had a nice header off a set piece that forced a nice Nielson save as well as a break away just after the half hour mark that he would like to have back. Of course all of that is overshadowed by his game ending skyscraper of a penalty take, which is unfortunate given his high level of activity on the evening.
Brad Evans – 6 — Evans helped settle the game down from his position on the left. After the Sounders got their equalizer they seemed to remain composed and retain possession much better then they have through the first 80 minutes and Evans was integral in that.
Christian Tiffert – 5.5 – Tiffert offered decidedly more in attack from the central midfield than Rose who he replaced, and looks to be a good pair for Alonso going forward. Nielsen made a good save on Tiffert’s effort in the shootout, and it was an interesting choice by Schmid given Tiffert’s short time with the team.
Marc Burch –5.5 — He provided added defensive cover after coming on for Montero in the second overtime. By the time he arrived, the game’s pace had slowed and he served his purpose by seeing the game out from a defensive perspective.
What were your thoughts on the performances of the Sounders? On the team as a whole?