Reds almost trip overconfident Sounders
By Michael Ligot
TORONTO — A Toronto FC mistake may have made the difference, but that didn’t mean the Seattle Sounders FC ran away from the Reds like normal.
Mauro Rosales’ third goal of the season and an own goal gave the Sounders an early lead, but Toronto’s Jonathan Osorio yanked them back to earth, and Seattle barely held on for the 2-1 victory.
The Red’s weak first half suggested Seattle’s fifth-straight victory over them would be a skate.
Obafemi Martins engineered a midfield run and fed Brad Evans. The midfielder’s cross to the right wing found Eddie Johnson, who headed it across the face of the goal. Sounder players outnumbered Toronto’s three-zip in the landing area, and Rosales was the one who collected the ball and sent it between goalkeeper Joe Bednik and post-hugging Ashtone Morgan.
A quarter-hour after the goal, a clean but aggressive Doneil Henry tackle left Martins injured, and that hastened Clint Dempsey’s much-anticipated Seattle debut. Though his first touch resulted in a fine tackle by Morgan, Seattle shortly doubled its tally through, ironically, Henry.
Lamar Neagle, from virtually the same left-wing spot that Evans hit his cross from, passed a low ball into the area. Henry tried to get back, but inadvertently backheeled the ball toward the net, and Morgan and goalkeeper Joe Bednik couldn’t prevent it from breaking the plane. Scorers hung an own goal on Henry.
Seattle evidently forgot traditional bottom-feeder Toronto, who had just won twice until a few weeks ago, was on a three-game unbeaten streak, and the Reds splashed cold water on the Sounders’ daydream 30 seconds into the second half.
After collecting a pass from Andrew Wiedeman. Jonathan Osorio juked a sliding Osvaldo Alonso and hit a low shot on Marcus Hahnemann. The ball bounced off Hahnemann’s sideways shin and headed to the net, and although Leonardo Gonaález thought his high kick cleared it off the goalline, referee’s assistant Ian Anderson signaled it had just fully entered the net.
Referee Mark Geiger promptly awarded Osorio his fifth goal of the season, putting him one behind team leader Robbie Earnshaw.
Earnshaw, substituting Wiedeman ten minutes later, almost equalized in his first MLS action since July 17 at the hour mark, but it bounced off the post, and DeAndre Yedlin cleared. Seattle’s defense fluttered like unraked maple leaves, evident when Yedlin again needed to foil Earnshaw on an open shot and González missed giving Toronto an own goal himself, by centimeters.
Dempsey help settle the Sounders down with a few shots, including a great feint-and-fire that fooled Osorio and forced a brilliant Bendik save. Toronto kept up the pressure, but a Jeremy Brockie shot deep in injury time — just their third on target shot in the game — slammed off 6-foot-3 Hahnemann’s chest, and Seattle cleared the ensuing corner to seal the victory.
The Sounders’ escape ended their three-game losing — and scoreless — streak on the road, and brought them 34 points (10-4-7 W-D-L), fifth place in the Western Conference, and playoff position depending upon tomorrow’s Los Angeles-Dallas game. They visit Houston next Saturday. Toronto (20 points, 4-8-11, ninth in the East) travels to Trillium Cup archrival Columbus.
1) Seattle, Rosales (Johnson) 15′
2) Seattle, own goal (Henry) 40′
3) Toronto, Osorio (Wiedeman) 46′
STATISTICS (from MLSSoccer.com)
Shots: Toronto 12, Seattle 13
Shots on Goal: Toronto 3, Seattle 2
Saves: Toronto 1, Seattle 0
Corner Kicks: Toronto 11, Seattle 5
Offsides: Toronto 2, Seattle 4
Fouls: Toronto 11, Seattle 15
Cautions Toronto 0, Seattle 2 (Johnson 23′, Joseph 75′)
Passes (Pct. completed): Toronto 402 (81.8%), Seattle 438 (82.2%)
Duels Won (Pct.): Toronto 55 (48.2%), Seattle 59 (51.8%)
Possession: Toronto 48%, Seattle 52%
Toronto: Bendik; Morgan, Henry, Caldwell, Eckersley (Braun 89′); Convey, Osorio, Laba, Lambe (Rey 71′); Brockie, Wiedeman (Earnshaw 56′).
Seattle: Hahnemann; González, Traoré, Ianni, Yedlin; Neagle, Evans (Burch 89′), Alonso, Rosales (Joseph 72′); Johnson, Martins (Dempsey 34′).
Officials: refereee Geiger, referee’s assistants Fletcher and Morgante, fourth official Rudolf.
– Seattle has received another own goal this season, from Chivas USA’s Mario de Luna June 1. The Sounders won that game 2-0.
– Johnson’s caution, for embellishment, disqualifies him for Houston. However, as he’s likely to be called up for the United States’ midweek friendly against Bosnia, it’s possible he might have been rested for that game anyway.
– Both teams showed their woefully inaccurate shooting; though they combined for 15 shots, they only got five on target, and the goalkeepers made just one save, Hahnemann’s late win-rescuer.