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Postgame discussion: Sounders 0, Houston 0

Post by Don Ruiz / The News Tribune on Oct. 29, 2009 at 6:45 pm with 30 Comments »
October 30, 2009 9:06 am

The final is 0-0.

Here’s my game story.

Here’s John McGrath’s column on the odd uncertainty of whether that was the region’s goodbye to the Sounders until next March.

Here’s some color from the game by TNT reporter Joyce Chen.

And here’s a photo gallery from the TNT photographers.

The result boils this whole aggregate-score stuff down to its simplest: The winner of Game 2 advances to the Western final.

“You always want to win at home if it’s possible,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. “But we don’t look at it as a missed opportunity. We look at it as, hey, we played the first half of this series and we didn’t get a goal. We’ve got to make sure we get the goals in the second half of the series.”

Game Two will be played Nov. 8 in Houston, with the winner advancing. If that game is tied after regulation, 30 minutes of extra time will be played. If the deadlock remains, the series will be settled by penalty kicks.

Tonight, Seattle took 14 shots, and Houston nine. However, Houston put four on goal, and Seattle only three.

Still, Seattle had its chances. Two of the best came from Seattle defender Patrick Ianni, who moved into the lineup when Tyrone Marshall became a late scratch with a knee ligament strain. One Ianni headers was headed away at the goalmouth by Houston defender Brian Mullan, and another clanged off the crossbar just before halftime. In the second half, forward Fredy Montero faced Houston keeper Pat Onstad one-on-one — a chance for perfect revenge — but sent his shot wide. Roger Levesque almost got his recent late-game magic to work once more in stoppage time.

As for that early Montero-Onstad incident, different parties saw it different ways.

Montero: “I was looking at the ball, he got annoyed. He pushed me. I fell. It was a yellow card that I really didn’t expect. My intention was never to annoy him or anything. He simply pushed me with his shoulder.”

Onstad: “I think I was frustrated I didn’t get the call when I though Montero picked me. I just bumped his shoulder. If I had done that to Nate Jaqua he probably just would have (brushed it off.) But Montero, we know he likes to embellish things, and down he went. I deserved the yellow for unnecessary contact, but I didn’t raise my hand to his face or anything like that. I was glad the referee actually looked at it and he felt Montero was trying to embellish it.”

Houston coach Dominic Kinnear: I didn’t see it. The play right before I thought was going to be a foul called and I went to plead my case to the fourth official and did not see the altercation. I asked and someone said he just bumped him. I think for a guy to fall down so easily from a chest bump is looking to get him thrown out. It is important to maintain our composure in all areas. I think Pat was upset that they didn’t call a foul, we have to keep our head.”

But the best might have come from Schmid: “My analogy was it was a bowling ball and a bowling pin, and the bowling ball got a yellow and the bowling pin got a yellow for getting knocked over.”

By the way, referee Ricardo Salazar is the same guy who showed David Beckham a straight red in the Sounders’ win in Los Angeles. So he doesn’t lack for guts. But two yellows struck me as treating two very different actions equally.

By the final whistle, six cautions had been issued — also equally divided.

“We see a lot of each other so there gets to be some chippy and intense battles,” Schmid said. “But I think it’s a good competition, a good rivalry, because they’ve been a dominant team in the Western Conference. … We’re the next kids on the block and we’re trying to have people take notice of us. They don’t want to give away any of their prestige and we’re trying to take some of it. That makes it a good rivalry.”

It will heat up one more time, Nov. 8, high noon under the Texas sun.

Attendance: 37,807. It’s the largest crowd ever to see the Sounders in an MLS game, the largest ever to see an MLS semifinal match, and the seventh largest MLS playoff crowd ever.

64th minute: Levesque in and Montero out shortly after Montero just missed a good scoring chance. It’s worked before.

Second half: Has begun.

Halftime: Scoreless. Two great chances by Patrick Ianni, including a header off the crossbar in the 43rd minute.

Seattle leads in shots 9-4. Both teams have put two shots on goal. Seattle leads on corners, 4-3.

16th minute Houston keeper Pat Onstad intentionally knocks down Fredy Montero, starting a lot of pushing and shoving between the teams that looked for a moment like it might get waaaay out of hand.

Montero and Onstad get yellow cards — and Onstad apparently gets boos from the crowd for the rest of the night.

Anyone see what set him off?

Kickoff: The game — and the series — have begun.

Lineup change: The Sounders have moved Patrick Ianni into the starting back four in place of Tyrone Marshall, who has suffered a mild ligament strain in his right knee. Zach Scott takes Ianni’s spot on the bench.

Golden scarf: Tonight it goes to Chris Henderson, Sounders technical director, former MLS all-star and National Team member, and all-round Edmunds-native-done-good.

Record crowd: As mentioned in a post below, a crowd of about 35,700 is expected tonight. This will be the largest ever to see a Sounders MLS game because of the opening of loge seats in the upper deck. Despite some rain and apparently horrible traffic around the Sound today, most available seats are already filled. Including those new ones up above.

Lineups: No surprises in the Sounders’ starting personnel tonight, but for the first time I can recall, they’re defining it as a 4-3-3: GK Keller, D Riley, Hurtado, Marshall, Gonzalez; M Alonso, Evans, Zakuani; F Jaqua, Ljungberg, Montero. Reserves are Boss, Ianni, King, Le Toux, Levesque, Vagenas, Wahl.

For Houston — GK Onstad; D Hainault, Boswell, Cameron, Chabala; M Mullan, Clark, Holden, Davis; F Ching, Oduro. Reserves: Hall, Landin, Barrett, Cochrane, Robinson, Waibel, Weaver.

Game 1: Normal gameday blogging planned. Pregame news as it happens, lineups as they’re released, then in-game reports, postgame notes and quotes … and your comments all the way, I hope.

Leave a comment Comments → 30
  1. EverydayFan says:

    Great Game!
    I’ll take that result _all day_.
    We kept the 2-time champs out of our net, and had one in theirs (until overturned)….
    Winner take all at their place?
    Be afraid ….
    Be _very afraid_….
    I love it!!!!

  2. joepublic says:

    One comment. Holy cow.

  3. EverydayFan says:

    Does anyone know why that goal was overturned, by the way?

  4. SouthHillHooligan says:

    Ref whistled the play dead for a foul against Ljungberg while the ball was on the way to Jaqua. Not sure why he didn’t let the play go on.

  5. jimkingjr says:

    Well, my perspective from Row A is a bit different. Salazar lost control of the game early, and never regained it. Taking an Onsted red card and changing it into two yellows- giving Fredy one- was as poor a call as I’ve seen all season. Onstad should have been out, and that would have cost Houston his services next game, too. That would be a big difference.

    There is no doubt- look at the replay- that Onstad deliberately knocked Fredy down. At least he didn’t stomp him. Goalkeepers need to be reined in.

    Then there was the goal we lost because Salazar decided Sounders were fouled back at midfield quite a bit earlier. So give us a free kick- at the cost of a goal?

    And a night full of Houston thuggery. Montero was pulled early because Salazar was letting the Dynamutts mug him at will. I’ll say this for Fredy- early in the year he’d have pouted and been out of the game for thirty seconds; tonight he’d dust himself off after each mugging and go right back at it.

    Hard to do much carrying a Dynamutt on your back with his arm wrapped around your neck, though.

    And Freddie kept his cool throughout.

    Hopefully the league will tell whomever is officiatiing the next game to keep it under control. Salazar completely lost it tonight.

    And I lost all respect for anyone in pumpkin orange. If you weren’t there, and weren’t close, you might not have seen intentional pushes in the back away from the action and other acts that the league should be reviewing,

    No wonder Sigi actually asked Salazar if this was how playoff games were going to be officiated. I thought I was at a hockey game.

  6. joepublic says:

    Didn’t see it myself, but that’s what I heard as well. Blew the whistle for the foul, probably should have played advantage.

  7. derekyoung says:

    Crazy game. Most surprising Sounder you don’t want to make angry? Evans. When Onstad lost his marbles and he saw Montero on the ground beneath a bunch of orange shirts Evans went into full on Hulk mode.

    And didn’t you just know that Jaqua would reprise his role as Wounded Soldier #3 in All Quiet on the Western Front?

    Lots of chances. Ljunberg was again making fools out of the opposition with the ball at his feet. Tough luck not pulling a goal out of those opportunities. Especially when Ianni rattled the pipes.

    I still cannot figure out why Salazar didn’t let the advantage continue on that phantom whistle (I certainly didn’t see it but saw Onstad stop.)

    Anyway, I feel surprisingly good with a 0-0 draw.

  8. derekyoung says:

    PS ECS turned it up to 11. Wow.

  9. jimkingjr says:

    Our guys played their hearts out, the fans raised a shout, but unfortunbately Salazar is getting out of town with his orange posse, all in one piece.

    I have no doubt Sigi is prepared to give our guys shivs to defend themselves with. Disgraceful play by the Dynomutts. Onstad=Wicks.

  10. joepublic says:

    OK, have watched the replay several times now. Here is what Salazar was likely thinking re the no advantage call.

    Look where the foul occurred: 10 yards into the Sounders defensive half, on the touchline, a late challenge on Ljungberg — the kind of thuggery you are talking about, Jim. It’s a long way from the goal and it happens after Ljungberg plays the ball away.

    Look at Salazar’s head. He stays with the contact, which is where he is supposed to be looking. You can hear the whistle almost immediately.

    If he glanced downfield, he would have seen Jaqua one v two Dynamo defenders plus Onstad in goal. Not reasonable to expect an advantage situation, so it’s a quick decision. Give the foul. Freddie’s yelling at me about getting whacked anyway, so here’s one to go with.

    Again, a long way from the Houston goal. Also notice that the Jaqua and the Houston defenders scrap for the ball for a few seconds. And also watch Onstad. He heard the whistle. He completely stopped playing — he stood there and watched the Jaqua v defenders scrape and he watched the ball go into the goal. He stopped playing because Salazar blew the whistle.

    And that’s the bottom line: If the ref blows the whistle, he’s got to stop play. It’s too late to give advantage.

  11. joepublic says:

    Re Onstad foolishness vs Montero. I don’t know what Fredy did to set Onstad off, but he was in tight with the keeper after the ball was served into the area. Can’t see what he did, but it clearly cheesed Onstad.

    That said, the ‘keeper was completely out of order and I agree with others that he probably should have been sent.

    Meantime, foul count was something like 16 vs Houston, 8 or so vs. Sounders. Cautions even at three apiece, and I guess that’s where people have issues.

  12. jimkingjr says:

    Those third level tarps, with Onstad on them, out to make a great bonfire in the parking lot at Qwest.

    Joe- the thuggery went on all over the field- even away from the action- all night. Amazing what one can see from Row A (but the officials couldn’t).

    Salazar choked on the implications of red-carding Omstad when he should have- and it was all down hill from there.

    I’m proud none of our guys lost their cool or did something stupid. But there are no excuses for cowards with a whistle.

  13. joepublic says:

    Coward is an awfully strong word, especially for someone you don’t know.

    I don’t doubt the Dynamo went for a physical approach. There is a reason the Sounders are the most fouled team in the league. Opposing coaches must think there is some advantage to kicking them around a bit. But this is the big boy league, and the playoffs. What do you think you’d see every weekend in Serie A, where the defending is state-of-the-art. Kidney punches? Stepped on feet? Elbows in the back of the head. These men are playing for money.

    Just judging from the highlights, it looks like Houston played a little bit as well. They had several clear chances early.

    But big ups to our boys for hanging tough. Montero came oh so close on that sweet turn after the feed from Jaqua.

  14. derekyoung says:

    Hey did anyone notice who had that bicycle clearance around 80th minute? It looked like Ianni and we were cracking up about it.

    Also, to the rest of the MLS. You really should reconsider this strategy of dribbling straight at Alonso or Gonzalez. It’s getting embarrassing.

  15. WendellGee says:

    My thoughts are what they’ve been all year – I wish we could put the ball in the back of the net!!

    Anyway, this was the result all the signs pointed to. The two stingiest defenses, playing in the stadium that has seen the fewest goals in the league, in a year that was the lowest scoring in MLS history.

    I’ll guess the aggregate will be 1-0. But to whom???

  16. jimkingjr says:

    Joe- I enjoy the beautiful game. If I want hockey, I’ll go watch hockey.

    Highlights don’t tell the story on the pitch tonight. Our guys played well against a group of thugs. This was not a physical game- this was a game where Houston took advantage in every way it could of an official who lost control of the game early and didn’t even try to regain it.

    Coward is the word I’ll use for someone too afraid of red-carding a goalkeeper early in the first of two games. I know you believe bad officiating is simply misunderstood officiating. I’m hoping MLS has the cajones MLB has, and takes a stand on poor officiating in the playoffs.

    As for MLS being the big boy league- not yet, by a long shot.

  17. jimkingjr says:

    But if one wants to go to highlights- take a look at two minutes in, when they replay Onstad’s “bump”… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0UbHPOMhaw

  18. WendellGee says:

    Can we at least take his picture off he tarp on the upper deck now?

  19. derekyoung says:

    I think Salazar’s strangest call (or no call in this case) hasn’t been mentioned. It was the late and from behind tackle on Gonzalez. It was a very dangerous play as it trapped his leg and could have done damage. Frankly it should have been a straight red but at least a yellow. It was far more serious than the yellow Evans got towards the end dragging down Clark which was deserved but much less serious.

    JP – I see what you’re saying now on the Ljunberg foul, but I would think that if you’re going to stop play and take away the advantage, a card has to come out right?

    Ultimately though, it’s the same old song. Finishing opportunities. For some reason though, I prefer a 0-0 to a 1-1 or 2-2 because it means we kept them out of our net.

    I don’t know that a lot of people understand how great of a save Keller had diving to his left. It looked to people in my section that it was going wide but I think it was curling back inside the far post off the bounce. His footwork is so solid it almost looked easy but it was in fact a very difficult stop to make.

  20. Don Ruiz says:

    I thought the same thing about the tarps, JK. However, Salazar sent Beckham off early in his 2009 debut on his home pitch, so he certainly wasn’t a coward on Aug. 15.

    And while I thought a red was called for last night, well, that would have been quite a call sending off the No. 1 keeper for most of the first game and all of the second in a two-game series.

    I asked Onstad — who really seems like an amazingly nice guy every time I talk to him — if he worried while the ref was sorting things out that he might get a red. He said he thought it would have been a terribly undeserved red … but he acknowledged that he put himself in a situation where that result was put in someone else’s and that he shouldn’t have done it.

    I’ll put up a new post purely on the topic later.

  21. jimkingjr says:

    Don- you might have noticed I was ecstatic yesterday when I learned Salazar was reffing BECAUSE he had the courage to red card Beckham- and early in a game.

    I remember Keller getting a red card for what I consider a “technical” violation- without that red card, I have no doubt we would have had diferent game outcomes and won the Supporters Shield and home field all the way.

    If Keller was` deserving of a red card, so was Omstad- and I still think that Salazar choked on the implications of what he should have done.

    A keper has so many advantages- and some abuse them. I’m all for enforcing the six second rule, and Sounders fans need to learn to countdown- 6-5-4-3-2-1-FOUL!

    As for nice guys- sitting in Row A gives a perspective I don’t normally get. And I saw a lot of unsportsmanlike conduct, even away from the ball, by athletes I had thought were nice guys- including Ching. Nothing but thugs among the Dynamutts.

  22. nurse_ratched says:

    Regularly read, don’t usually drop a comment in here.

    Was down at Qwest last night as well, and I couldn’t disagree with you more jim. Onstad was guilty of some basic thuggery, but that was hardly a red card. In that play, what Onstad did was no worse that Hurtado in the midst of the handbags. Not sure why Montero got a yellow, which I agree did make Salazar come off looking a little weak, but I think you are completely reworking what he messed up in your head.

    As far as bad referee’s come, he was pretty close to tolerable. The only things I thought he really messed up were a bunch of throw-ins (whatever pretty trivial), a few corner/goal kick decisions (again, not the end of the world, though it undermined his credibility) and then possibly a few earlier bookings on Houston. I felt like for everytime we wanted a booking, there was an equally strong claim for a dissent card.

    Hate to say it, but that one feels like we kicked ourselves it the balls pretty hard. Should have left Qwest up a goal or two in the struggle, and we go to Houston even.

  23. nurse_ratched says:

    Also, the six seconds rule is a pathetic thing for sounders fans to be worked up about.

  24. joepublic says:

    Derek: Re yellow in that situation, not necessarily. In Salazar’s mind, he was not taking away an advantage — as he saw it, none existed. He likely looked up, saw it was Jaqua 1 v 3 with no possession, nothing there. Blow the whistle and give the free kick.

    Generally speaking, if you decide there really is an advantage — a legit opportunity for the fouled team to create a scoring chance — then you’d only stop the game if you thought the foul was serious enough to warrant a sendoff for one of the two biggies, serious foul play or violent conduct.

    If it is something that you would caution for, you’d let the advantage play out and then come back to book the player at the next stoppage.

  25. joepublic says:

    And Ratched, spot on. People want six seconds? You’ve got to be joking.

    If a referee in a high-stakes game last night went out and blew the whistle every single time there was a violation of the laws, the match would be stop-start-stop-start and extremely unsatisfying to the players as well as the fans. It would look like the NBA. Blech.

    The laws specifically empower referees to decide what constitutes a “trifling” foul or infraction, and to decide that it’s not worth stopping the game for.

    Most players and lovers of the game want to see flow. They want to see rugged challenges. They want to see their guys go 9 million mph and give all they’ve got for the W. They want to see players fight their way through tackles, and they want to see lots of goalmouth action. Nobody pays money to watch the referee blow the whistle every 30 seconds.

  26. ciscokid says:

    I think Joe is correct…and in most cases I felt Salazar used the advantage play-on rule correctly and let the game flow. He didn’t get every one right but he made a conscious effort I thought to let the game keep it’s pace.

    He made some frustrating non-calls that I feel led to Houston being allowed to impose it’s rugged style on Seattle but I don’t think he’s the reason we didn’t get a goal.

    And I get the sense from him that he really is trying to get it right. That seems obvious but I’ve seen refs that don’t APPEAR to care. He does and that makes him an above average MLS referee IMHO.

  27. jimkingjr says:

    Have any of you seen Onstad’s earlier mugging of Fredy?

    I don’t disagree you want flow- but an official should not let it get so out of hand that his choice is to allow an ugly game or a completely chopped up game. Once Salazar let Houston know they could pull almost anything and get away with it- once Houston realized he’d come over and give ‘em a “stern” talking, but no card- they had their way. If Salazar had acted early, we’d have had a soccer match- not a rugby game. He failed in his fundamental duty.

  28. joepublic says:

    Jim, I respect your passion for this subject. I would love to get you through our 16-hour entry level clinic and out on the field to run some games yourself, maybe get another perspective on how all this works.

  29. jimkingjr says:

    Joe- been there, done that. Please do not assume that if I only understood officiating…

  30. joepublic says:

    You’re a ref?

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