Sounders Blog with John Zielonka
Sunday, April 29, 2012 @ 10:19am
by John Zielonka, 710ESPN Seattle
Seattle won its second straight game on the road in Chicago on the back of Eddie Johnson's first strike as a Sounder. The U.S. international scored the game winner in the 67th minute.
Eddie Johnson (Courtesy: Sounderfc.com)
The Sounders' first goal was ruled an own goal as David Estrada's cross deflected off Chicago defender Arne Friedrich and rolled inside the post.
The Fire closed the gap to a goal in the 89th minute on Marco Pappa's seeing-eye bending corner kick that evaded Seattle 'keeper Michael Gspurning. The tally ended Gspurning's 337-minute shutout streak.
The lanky Dane held off one more attack in stoppage time by saving a 93rd minute volley by Jalil Anibaba.
Mauro Rosales and Adam Johansson returned to the starting lineup since home opener on March 17. Rosales suffered from several knocks from Chicago's Gonzalo Segares and Daniel Paladini. He was eventually replaced early in the second half by Marc Burch.
Man of the Match: Eddie Johnson
Johnson missed another goal when his headed ball hit the post. Against the Fire, he's scored seven times in 13 games.
"Without the effort from my teammates and the guys around me tonight, I don't think that goal would have been possible for me. It wasn't the best performance from us, but sometimes you have to win ugly. We'll take the three points."--Eddie Johnson
"He produced some key moments for us; he also hit the post with that header. He was dangerous at times. His touch was off a little bit, but he knows that's going to get better."--Sigi Schmid, Sounders FC head coach
High emotions and physical play
Referee Michael Kennedy let both sides play and issued one caution during the first 90 minutes of the match. He raised the yellow card three times in added time once the emotions of the match bubbled up.
"The players put a lot into the game. We were playing at home; there were some emotions at the end, but we just have to control that. At times, the referees have to make the right calls and not let it get out of hand."--Frank Klopas, Chicago Fire head coach
"I went in to make a play on the ball and it turned into a scuffle. It was a hard fought match and emotions run high, but there was nothing malicious on either end. In the heat of the moment things are said, but again, it was not malicious - it was just two teams competing hard."--Jalil Anibaba, Chicago Fire defender
"I wanted to wait for the melee to die down. I think it was a pretty aggressive tackle right at the end of the game from Anibaba on Leo Gonzalez. It was an aggressive tackle and obviously it was a frustrating game for Chicago because they had some great opportunities and they had chances and it's one of those days where it just didn't go in for them."--Sigi Schmid
Papa's corner kick goal
In what has to be a candidate for MLS Goal of the Week, Papa's bender eluded Gspurning to reduce Seattle's advantage to one in the dying minutes of the match.
"It was really unbelievable. We played the second half against the wind so I would say 70% it was a good corner kick, and 30% was the 50mph wind picking it up so I had to step up and by that time it had hit the post and gone in. I'm always a positive guy but I know it will be on all the season highlights now with this goal."--Michael Gspurning, Sounders FC goalkeeper
"It was my first goal of the season, but it's hard to feel good because my first thought is always of the team and we didn't get the points."--Marco Papa, Chicago Fire midfielder
"But with the wind behind him, Pappa strikes a good ball and ripped it. Michael said that he Basically had no chance to react-all of a sudden it was off the post."--Sigi Schmid
They said it
"He (Estrada) took the shot, clearly not on target, but it takes a turn off of someone's leg and goes back on target. It's a tough one, but what can you do?"--Sean Johnson, Chicago Fire goalkeeper
"I think those things even out, but when you look at all the games we've played, Grazzini is probably the guy that has been kicked the most, but he's the one that ends up with the yellow cards."--Frank Klopas
"Everyone knows I didn't train last week but I was 100% fit today otherwise I wouldn't have played. I thought my performance was okay but this goal, I take it, but it shouldn't have happened. But at least we got three points."--Michael Gspurning
Sunday, April 8, 2012 @ 11:07am
by John Zielonka, 710ESPN Seattle
In their first away match of the year, Seattle and D.C. United played to a 0-0 draw. It was the Sounders' second straight game without a goal
The Sounders nearly scored the winning tally in the dying minutes of the match. Marc Burch's potential game winning header hit the left post to preserve the tie.
Marc Burch (Courtesy of Soundersfc.com)
Man of the Match: Osvaldo Alonso
Alonso managed to keep D.C. United's Dwayne De Rosario off the scoresheet. The Seattle midfielder held the United in check for the full 90. United head coach Ben Olsen made a tactical change to get De Rosario away from Alonso in the second half.
"I thought he did a good job of shutting him down and eventually they moved DeRo up to get him away from [Osvaldo Alonso]."--Sigi Schmid, Sounders FC head coach
Burch's near miss
It would have been sweet revenge for Burch to score against his old team. His last minue header missed by inches.
"We got pretty lucky. I should’ve pushed it out a little wider but it fell right to [Seattle’s] player and I was lucky that the post was there to help me out."--Joe Willis, D.C. United keeper
Keeper Michael Gspurling make four saves to earn his second shutout of the year. Credit the defenders in front of the tall Austrian for their efforts in notching the clean sheet.
"When he is able to come out and punch those balls clear it makes it a lot easier on our defenders because they know they have a goalkeeper that’s going to get to those balls...He came up with some big saves tonight for sure."--Sigi Schmid
Fredy's scoring woes
Fredy Montero continues to struggle offensively. The Colombian has yet to tally a goal or an assist.
"Fredy didn’t have many looks today because Dejan [Jakovic] is a great defender; he was able to shut him down. One of the things Fredy likes to do is get the ball deep and turn with it, but we only let him do it once or twice and it didn’t come to anything."--Joe Willis
They said it
"I don’t think offensively either team was at their best. It was a pretty physical battle. I think [Seattle] came here with the thought of getting numbers behind the ball and having a real blue-collar day. You have to be pretty good with the ball, be confident, move and be clicking, and in the first half, we really weren’t."--Ben Olsen, D.C. United head coach
"I’m pretty happy with our performance because we controlled the game. D.C. [United] had a couple of chances, so I think the point is OK on the road. To take this point I think is important."--Michael Gspurning
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 @ 8:23am
I interviewed Arlo White in his inaugural season with the Sounders. He appears to be headed to the national scene and, supposedly, accepted an offer to be the MLS announcer for NBC.
Take a look at my interview to gain his perspectives on a variety of topics covering his days at BBC and moving to Seattle.
He's a class act and will be sorely missed by fans and his media counterparts. We all wish him the best of luck.
Link to Arlo White video: http://youtu.be/YvoNMKWY4Ew
Wednesday, November 9, 2011 @ 5:57pm
Below are my thoughts on what worked, what didn't in 2011 and what to expect next year.
Mauro Rosales' arrival saved what could have been a disastrous season after Steve Zakuani's injury. The Argentinean then went on to set the club record for assists (13). If Rosales had not been injured before the playoffs, Seattle might have moved on to the next round.
Fredy Montero (photo courtesy of Jane Gershovich)
The enigmatic Fredy Montero proved he's one of the best forwards in the league. He tallied 18 goals and 12 assists in all competitions. Montero appears to be happy in Seattle, but is he contemplating moving on to higher levels of competitions in Europe?
Kasey Keller showed once again that he is one of the top 'keepers in MLS. He led MLS with 19 victories and was third in shutouts with 10. For his going-away party, over 64,000 fans celebrated with Keller recognizing his contribution to the city and soccer in general.
Head coach Sigi Schmid was clearly disappointed with the unexpected end to the MLS season. However, the Sounders did win their third U.S. Open Cup in a row, and moved on to the next round of the CONCACAF Champions League competition. Schmid remains in the top echelon of MLS managers.
In what probably will be his last year with the Sounders, Nate Jaqua was ineffective throughout the year. He scored two goals and notched six assists in all competitions. Jaqua had offseason surgery in the groin area and never seemed to get untracked.
The Sounders rewarded Pat Noonan with a three-month contract extension in April. He played 706 minutes and managed only two assists and no goals.
Midfielder Steve Zakuani suffered a season-ending fractured tibia and fibula in late April. O'Brian White encountered blood clot issues and never returned to the lineup. Both were expected to make significant contributions.
This year's early exit ensures another set of personnel changes by the Sounders' management team. The biggest hole to fill will be in goal. Keller's leadership on the field and in the locker room will be missed. Look for a major acquisition to be made in this area.
Zakuani and White are question marks until they start playing again. Will they recover and regain their old forms?
Schmid's third straight first round exit places incredible pressure on the seasoned manager. This is one of the league's highest profile franchises, and team owners will be expecting nothing short of a championship in 2012.
Thursday, November 3, 2011 @ 2:16pm
Seattle won the game 2-0, but lost in the two-match aggregate score 3-2 to Real Salt Lake.
I captured RSL head coach Jason Kreis' and defender Tony Beltran's thoughts on the match, goal line save and the penalty kick awarded to Fucito for Seattle's first score.
In his post-game press conference, Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid lamented the lack of tenacity in the first leg, and how he wished the intensity had been there for both matches.
'Keeper Kasey Keller, via audio, discussed his last match and plans for the future as his playing career came to an end.
Sunday, October 30, 2011 @ 1:03pm
Man of the match: Kasey Keller
Kasey Keller faced a barrage of shots and "held" RSL to a mere three goals. He saw 19 shots during the match, and needed to make a number of outstanding saves to prevent what could have been Seattle's worst defensive performance of the year.
Keller's performance was the only highlight in a dismal evening for head coach Sigi Schmid. Seattle will need more than their stopper to advance to the next round.
"Keller was the one guy who stood up and performed. He made a number of key saves. We never forced Rimando to make a save all night."--Sigi Schmid, Sounders FC head coach
What didn't work
The midfield proved to be the weak link in this matchup. Mauro Rosales' absence showcased how valuable he is to the Sounders. Without the Argentenian in the lineup, the Sounders never found their rhythm. RSL held the edge in possession as Seattle failed to net one shot on goal.
"One of our focuses was to keep a zero back there. We knew they had some lethal weapons up top and in the midfield and (we had) to stay compact."--Nick Rimando, RSL goalkeeper
A leaky defense allowed far too many chances. Even Keller's superhuman effort could not stop the Salt Lake offensive barrage that never let up from the opening to the closing whistle.
"It's simple. We got dominated, from minute one to minute 95. There's nothing much to be said."--James Riley, Sounders FC defender
With minimal support from the midfield, Fredy Montero and Sammy Ochoa (a surprise starter) failed to get any clear chances on goal. Credit RSL's physical and tenaceous play on defense.
"All the time we were defending. We didn't find a way to push forward and try to score goals and keep the ball."--Fredy Montero, Sounders FC forward
"I was happy to get the start, but we didn't get the win here, and the way we lost, it wasn't a good start for me."--Sammy Ochoa, Sounders FC forward
What to expect in the second leg on Wednesday
It's do a or die time for the Sounders. I expect to see Rosales back in the starting lineup and for Seattle to come out in full force offensively.
This is a resilient group of players, and they were embarrassed by last night's outcome. For the third year in a row, Seattle is having a difficult time scoring in the playoffs. Look for Schmid's squad to gain a level of respectability.
Another factor in Seattle's favor were the injuries to RSL starting defenders Nat Borchers and Jamison Olave. With two out of four defenders potentailly out for Wednesday's matchup, the home side has a fighting chance.
The team will put forth a respectable effort and will make this one closer than most people think. My prediction is that it goes to penalty kicks. Real Salt Lake still manages to advance to the next round.
They said it
"We're lucky we didn't lose six-nothing. We were well served by only losing three-nothing. We played not well and I thought Real Salt Lake played very well. A bad time for us to choose to have a bad game."--Sigi Schmid
"For me that was a complete match, and we haven't had a complete match of good soccer and good focus and the requisite commitment for a very long time."--Jason Kreis, RSL head coach
Friday, October 28, 2011 @ 12:54pm
by John Zielonka, Special to ESPN710.com
The Sounders left their training grounds yesterday to fly off to to Salt Lake City. Before departing, head coach Sigi Schmid met with the media and provided an update on the playing status of midfielder Mauro Rosales and a Real Salt Lake scouting report.
Watch the video below to view Schmid's comments.
Saturday, October 15, 2011 @ 7:00pm
The Sounders played their last regular home season match in front of 64,140 fans. Seattle beat the San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 on two second half goals.
Those in attendance came not for the match but to pay tribute to Kasey Keller.
Prior to the start of the 2011 campaign, he announced this would be his last season. As the second player signed by Seattle in their inaugural season, Keller set the tone on the field and in the locker room for the expansion Sounders.
He never shirked responsibility for the occasional bad goal, nor did he shy away from calling out a teammate for not being a team player (Keller called out Freddie Lungberg for his dedication in 2010).
To their credit, Seattle pulled out all the stops in honoring Keller in his 20th professional year of soccer. The Ring of Honor at Century Link Field permanently remembers Seattle Seahawks players that had an impact on the city and the NFL team.
Why not reserve a spot for Keller, the original Mr. Sounder? In his three years with Seattle, no one has had a bigger impact in the on and off-the field for the club. He gave it instant credibility as soon as he stepped on the Seattle pitch for the first time.
Let's start a campaign to immortalize a true professional in every sense of the word!
Below is video I captured from a truly memorable night for Keller and the city of Seattle.
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