Dear Soccer, Welcome to Remember The Sonics!
DC United rallied late against the Seattle Sounders on Wednesday night to salvage a 3-3 draw at Qwest Field in Seattle.
Having recently moved to Seattle, this was my first Seattle Sounders experience at Qwest Field, and I was not disappointed in the quality of play or the game day atmosphere.
While the MLS has yet to catch on in mainstream America, it is alive and well in the heart of Seattle. The city of Seattle has a loyal soccer fan base who openly and actively supports the now-MLS Seattle Sounders.
Entering Wednesday night’s matchup, DC United sat atop the Eastern Conference with 22 points. While their overall record was stellar, their road record was a sub-par 1-2-3 with a GF:GA ratio of 0.91.
On the contrary, Seattle found themselves at third place in the Western Conference with 20 points. While the Sounders had only five draws entering the match, all five draws were in a row, leaving Sounders fans disenchanted at the prospect of any more draws.
Wednesday night’s game was ESPN’s MLS Game of the Week, and it certainly lived up to the billing.
Both teams scored early and often, despite the Sounders and United averaging only 1.31 and 1.57 goals per game, respectively.
Here is a recap of each goal.
34′ – DC United – Chris Pontius – This goal was actually so fast I barely saw it. Santino Quaranta sent a beautiful cross to the back post and Pontius simply had to redirect past a helpless Kasey Keller.
The most impressive facet of this goal was Quaranta’s cross, as it breezed past two Seattle defenders en route to an eagerly waiting Chris Pontius. In all, it was a textbook cross and a textbook redirection for the goal. DC United 1, Seattle 0
38′ – Seattle Sounders – Osvaldo Alonso – The most beautiful shot of the game, no doubt about it. Prior to Alonso’s strike, Seattle’s marquee goal scorer Fredy Montero had a point blank shot on goal denied by DC United goalie Josh Wicks.
After the ball bounced around the box, Sounders defender James Riley passed it back to Alonso, who struck the ball squarely into the upper right corner of the goal. Wicks made his best effort at the ball, as his fingers grazed it on the way by, but in actuality there was nothing he could do to stop it; the shot was simply perfect. DC United 1, Seattle 1
45′ – Seattle Sounders – Own Goal (Marc Burch) - Nate Jacqua was the last Sounder to strike the ball on its way to the goal, but in truth there were no winners on this one. Jacqua had possession of the ball around the 18′, got tied up with a defender, spun around in a circle (literally) and managed to send the ball towards the net.
Goalie Josh Wicks was in position to stop the shot, but it ricocheted off of United defender Marc Burch and rolled into the net uncontested. Ugly but effective, as Seattle carried a 2-1 lead into half. DC United 1, Seattle 2
57′ – Seattle Sounders – Fredy Montero – Montero atoned for a number of significant misses in this game by sticking a beautiful touch shot on the far post for a score. Montero had a defender one-on-one at the 18′, juked right, stepped back to the left, and bent a left-footed strike around a defender to the goal.
The goal was sensational, but many fans (including myself) were still bitter about Montero’s missed opportunity in a one-on-one with the keeper only minutes earlier. DC United 1, Seattle 3
63′ – DC United – Christian Gomez - Gomez was subbed in at halftime for DC United and made his presence known on the pitch. In the sixty-third minute, Gomez found open space just outside the box and punched a shot on the ground to the far corner.
Gomez was virtually unmanned at the box, leaving an uncontested shot that goalkeeper Kasey Keller had no chance of saving. Seattle’s defense fell asleep on this one and Gomez made them pay. DC United 2, Seattle 3
87′ – DC United – Own Goal (Tyrone Marshall) – Santino Quaranta was the last DC United player to strike the ball before the goal, but defender Tyrone Marshall’s head undoubtedly sent this one to the back of the net.
This was a back-breaker for the Seattle Sounders, who had controlled nearly every aspect of the game to this point. Chris Pontius found open space on the left wing and sent an uncontested cross into the box towards Quaranta.
The ball appeared to graze Quaranta, but the most important touch was from Marshall, who deflected the ball past Kasey Keller and into the net. A fitting way for Seattle to let this game slip away. DC United 3, Seattle 3
Man of the Match: DC United Goalkeeper Josh Wicks
One thing is certain; had Josh Wicks not made a number of outstanding saves on Wednesday night, the Sounders would have easily left with a victory.
His most impressive feat, however, was on a play when the Sounders scored. Osvaldo Alfonso struck his first-half goal deep into the upper corner of the net and Wicks completely laid out to graze it on its way by. Getting his fingertips on a ball that perfect was simply outstanding effort.
Wicks faced 17 shots from the Sounders, making seven saves and shutting down a number of one-on-one opportunities. Wicks stopped close-range shots from Fredy Montero, Freddie Ljungberg, Sebastien Le Toux, and Steve Zakuani.
Undoubtedly he was the most important man on the field in this game.
Worst Man of the Match: DC United Goalkeeper Josh Wicks
Yes, Wicks was the most important player to his team on the pitch Wednesday night, however his antics in the second half stoppage time were unforgivable.
It’s generally understood that when you are trying to eek out a win (or draw in DC’s case) there are certain stall tactics that can be employed.
Wicks took this to extremes on two goal kicks in the waning minutes of the game.
On a goal kick in the 90th minute, Wicks did the following: walked slowly to get the ball, set it on the near corner of the box, positioned the ball, decided to kick from the other side of the box, slowly nudged the ball to the opposite side, bent to reposition the ball again, adjusted his socks, tightened his shoe laces, lowered his shorts make sure his jersey was correctly tucked in, pointed to three different players on his team and gave them all thumbs up to see if they were ready, paced backwards, squinted downfield, paused in thought, then kicked the ball.
It’s no surprise that the second time he did this (in the second minute of stoppage time) a beer bottle was thrown at him from the bleachers behind the goal. Wicks didn’t mind, however, since he used this as a reason to burn another thirty seconds off the clock in mock anger.
Stalling is one thing, but this was simply ridiculous.
America’s Next Minor League Soccer Star: DC United Defender Marc Burch
The irony in this is that Burch’s own goal had nothing to do with him being listed here. It didn’t help matters, but the reason he is listed is because of his sub-par play all night long.
Burch was a virtual practice dummy on the field Wednesday night, being shake-and-baked by anyone wearing a Sounders jersey (a vendor in a Sounders jersey even juked him at half time—believe it).
Here is a list of Burch’s highlights from Wednesday night. These are only a few examples, but trust me when I say that his side of the defense was open for business all game long.
- In the 45th minute, Burch fell victim to an own goal.
- Burch, the left defender, seemed hellbent on a DC United loss. Opening the second half, Seattle had three consecutive shots on goal from the left side of the defense. Wicks bailed him out on all three, however.
- Burch hired a search and rescue team to locate his jock after it was left on field following Fredy Montero’s second half goal. Montero juked Burch to the right then fired a (seemingly uncontested) shot to the far post.
- What the box score doesn’t show is that Burch was still off to the right trying to locate Fredy Montero via GPS when his shot hit the back of the net.
All in all, this was a very entertaining soccer game. Both sides played aggressively and there were plenty of goals to be had.
Seattle dominated the majority of the game, but let a two-goal lead evaporate late in the second half and settled for a sixth tie in their last eight games.
Cheers to the MLS in Seattle!