Sounders FC 1 : 0 Chivas USA
By Brandon Farris
In the olden days before the arrival of Arsene Wenger, Arsenal FC had a reputation for being the dullest football club in London. Their fans gloried in this and regularly sang “1-0 to the Arsenal” to the tune of Go West in response to taunts.
Nowadays, the song is sung when the Gunners score first and the jokes about the Arsenal FC perfume with an aroma that suggests ‘dull but purposeful’ are a relic of the 1980s.
The song remains though and very soon Sounders FC fans might feel entitled to borrow it, although with the amount of offensive firepower they have but not currently available, more 1-0 wins seem to be less likely.
Nonetheless, the club can be delighted that they had sufficient depth to see off a side that beat the New York Red Bulls and plundered two potential points from Vancouver’s faltering season in recent days.
On Wednesday, without Clint Dempsey, Eddie Johnson and Obafemi Martins, they managed their third successive 1-0 victory to move closer to the security of the top three and make the most of their games in hand over their rivals.
In a mid-week Wednesday match in Seattle where the Sounders took on bottom of the table Chivas they pulled in a surprise crowd of 38,317. Not only did they manage a three-peat of the scoreline, but they for the third game running the goal came from a free kick.
The Sounders made a quick start and put pressure on the Chivas defense early with a cross coming in the second minute by Marc Burch that Carlos Borja defected away and out of the Chivas box. However less than a minute later Lamar Neagle unleashed a shot off of a Mauro Rosales pass that just rose high of the crossbar.
Unlike last week the Sounders kept the pressure on hard and early, in the first quarter hour of the match they had held the ball for 76% of the time leaving Erick Torres and the Chivas forwards opportunities to advance down the field.
In the 19th minute there was a brief stoppage in play when DeAndre Yedlin went to head the ball and had a hard collision with Chivas forward Julio Morales. Fortunately for the injury and absence hit Sounders, there was a prompt recovery.
Another opportunity for the Sounders arose in the 21st minute when Rosales found an open Neagle, who was onside as it was passed and he was One-on-One with Chivas keeper Dan Kennedy.
However the Rosales pass was too heavy and it sailed past Neagle and right to Kennedy who quickly kicked down the field.
From there Chivas made a quick break and Bryan De La Fuente would finally get the first shot of the night for them.
Then in the 24th minute came the decisive moment.
The Sounders again applied more pressure on to Chivas and Yedlin was fouled. From there Marc Burch delivered the free kick from about 25 yards out, and it was a beauty,
His set piece found an open Neagle who snuck in behind Borja to put it in the back of the net and put the Sounders up 1-Nil. That would be the fourth consecutive goal that the Sounders have had off of free kicks.
In the first half hour the Sounders were still dominating in terms of possession having had the ball for 65% of the match.
At the 34th minute Rosales was taken down hard by Mario De Luna about 20 yards from the goal giving the Sounders a free kick in a very dangerous position. There was almost a repeat ten minutes later.
Another delivery found an open Neagle who put it home in the upper left corner of the net but the AR’s flag quickly went straight up for offside and the goal was negated.
At half time it was all a possession game, with the Sounders controlling the ball for 60% of the match and taking it into the break 1-Nil over Chivas.
For the most part the second half got off to a slow start that went back and forth. It started to pick up excitement in the 54th minute when Seattle had a run deep into Chivas territory and were two-on-three in the box. David Estrada sent a crossing pass to Neagle but it went too far behind him and killed the run.
Then a minute later Neagle once again received possession and fired a shot from about 30 yards out and Kennedy put a quick stop to the run.
In the 59th minute Estrada won a corner kick for Seattle that Rosales floated into the box where Patrick Ianni headed but Kennedy once again put another stop to the Sounders run.
It was mostly but not all one way traffic. Chivas created an opportunity in the 70th minute, when Matthew Fondy, a sub in the 60th minute, put a header on the ball off of the corner kick that Michael Gspurning quickly gobbled up.
From there both teams went back and forth but neither team could get anything to connect and the match came to a close.
There was a questionable no call in the 94th minute when Gspurning went to throw the ball, dropped it and picked it back up, per the laws of the game it should have been called a hand ball and a set piece should have been awarded to Chivas but Referee Mark Geiger missed it as he was looking at his watch and blew his whistle to bring the match to its end.
After the match Gspurning said he just got a little excited as he saw the ref reach for his whistle and that it was a mental mistake on his part of not waiting for him to actually blow it rather than just watching him.
Head coach Sigi Schmid stated that it was one of those calls that the team got lucky on.
“Yeah, the game seemed to turn on us a little bit early in the season, where the smidgen of luck didn’t come our way. Today at the game, smidgen of luck, (Michael) Gspurning makes a mistake, drops the ball, and the referee blows the end of the game. Some other referee might have said, ‘Oh he dropped it and picked it up, indirect free kick’ and we would have been scrambling there at the end.”
When all was said and done it was the Neagle goal in the 24th minute that put the Sounders ahead and gave the team its 3rd consecutive win and continued its streak to 37-0-8 when the team scores first.
The team is now riding a 3 match shutout streak, the last time Gspurning let a ball past him was against Houston, 286 minutes ago. At the same time for the fourth consecutive match the team has only put one goal on the scoreboard, the same team that at one point this season we saw go back to back matches putting 4 on the board.
Schmid was asked about this and he stated the goals will come, sometimes they just take time but the ball will find its way to the net and the team will continue its stride that it is in.
“I think the goals will come. We are very confident the goals will come. Obviously today we’re missing Eddie Johnson and we’re missing (Clint) Dempsey and we’re missing (Martins)…
We made a commitment after the Houston game that we got to play better defense, and we haven’t given up a goal since then. At the end of the day that’s something very important. To win an MLS Cup, we got to be solid in the back. I think there’s a Galaxy team that won the Supporters’ Shield, I think they won eight or nine games that season 1-0. So winning 1-0 is not the worst.”
We asked Burch about what the team has done in terms doing so well on set pieces, as in the last 4 goals the team has gotten has come off of them, he noted:
“I thought I was hitting some good crosses at the beginning of the game, so I felt pretty confident that I could get one in there. [Dan] Kennedy usually comes off his line, but he ended up staying and I think he froze on the ball and Lamar made a great run to finish it off.”.
With the win this ties Seattle with the Los Angeles Galaxy with 43 points and the Sounders still have 1 game in hand on them.
One other interesting tidbit from David Estrada, he didn’t find out he was starting until about 30 minutes before the game. He played a solid 84 minutes in the match.
Seattle Sounders FC – Michael Gspurning, DeAndre Yedlin, Patrick Ianni, Djimi Traore, Zach Scott, Mauro Rosales (Andy Rose 82), Osvaldo Alonso, Servando Carrasco, Marc Burch (Jhon Kennedy Hurtado 90), David Estrada (Eriq Zavaleta 84), Lamar Neagle.
Substitutes Not Used: Marcus Hahnemann, Alex Caskey, Blair Gavin, Phillip Lund.
TOTAL SHOTS: 11 (Neagle 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (Neagle 2); FOULS: 17 (Burch, Carrasco 3); OFFSIDE: 2 (Estrada, Rosales 1); CORNER KICKS: 10 (Rosales 6); SAVES: 1 (Gspurning 1).
Chivas USA – Dan Kennedy, Carlos Borja, Marky Delgado, Mario de Luna, Bobby Burling, Bryan de la Fuente (Eric Avila 46), Carlos Alvarez (Matthew Fondy 60), Oswaldo Minda (Gabriel Farfan 80), Edgar Mejia, Julio Morales, Erick Torres.
Substitutes Not Used: Patrick McLain, Steve Purdy, Jose Soto, Tristan Bowen.
TOTAL SHOTS: 13 (Fondy 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 1 (Burling 1); FOULS: 13 (Minda 3); OFFSIDE: 1 (Torres 1); CORNER KICKS: 4 (Alvarez, Mejia 2); SAVES: 2 (Kennedy 2).
CHV – Mario de Luna (caution) 34′
CHV – Oswaldo Minda (caution) 64′
Referee: Mark Geiger
Referee’s Assistants: Corey Parker, Marco Arruda
4th Official: Younes Marrakchi