The Sounders were terrible at connecting passes on Saturday, and they didn’t put a single shot on goal. But those aren’t the kinds of things that seemed particularly frustrating to goalkeeper Kasey Keller.
The Sounders had said all of last week that they hadn’t been tough enough in previous playoff series, and that that would change in Utah. It didn’t.
“No, it wasn’t there Saturday,” Keller said. “There are a whole lot of factors involved, and we could talk here for a long long time. But we didn’t come in for the fight. You thought maybe the first 10-15 minutes, if you look back on the tape, you think, ‘OK, maybe this is going to be OK.’ And then as it got a little bit more physical and a little bit harder, we just didn’t compete all the way around. Like I said, there are a lot of different tactical reasons because of that. But there were opportunities when guys needed to make a 30-40-yard run to stop something from happening, and it wasn’t there. And why that happened in a playoff game, I have no idea. I fully understand you’re having a bad day passing the ball, you’re having a bad day (when you) can’t seem to make things click on the offensive side. But you can always run hard and tackle. And in the playoffs you would think that that would be the first and foremost in an away game, that whatever happens I’m going to run hard and tackle, and it wasn’t there.”
Later, he expanded.
“Maybe it would have been better to go into a one-off game, where you didn’t have to think about what happens in this game and then we have to go off and play another game. Because we seem to be great in the one-off situations. But we didn’t step up and perform in a do-or-die manner. And that’s probably the thing that’s the most disappointing for everybody. … Why you didn’t run with somebody, why you didn’t tackle, why you didn’t clear a ball … that’s the stuff that’s the hard part because that means – I don’t know what that means. Because for me, that’s the part that’s the hardest to swallow. … When another team steps it up in the playoffs and you almost step it down, that’s hard to fathom. But, the cool part about having a second leg at home is you get a chance to put it right. You just start by getting one goal. You start by getting the first goal and go from there – and let them worry a little bit as the second one and the third one comes. But you can only get the second one after the first.”