SEATTLE - AUGUST 13: Head coach Sigi Schmid of the Seattle Sounders FC looks on during the game against Chivas USA at CenturyLink Field on August 13, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Today's scoreless draw against Chivas had many defining moments, but the one freshest in everyone's mind is the missed penalty call by Kevin Stott in the waning minutes. I say 'missed' not 'potential' or 'disputed' because the challenge that sent Neagle over was a foul anywhere on the pitch in any league in any competition in the world. It was so obvious that it was a reflex call — something a ref shouldn't even have to think about. All the more surprising is that Stott was maybe 3 yards from the play when it happened. He can hardly claim he didn't have a good look at it. And we all remember that Stott is the same official who yellow carded Zakuani for diving rather than awarding an equally clear penalty last season in Houston, which you can relive here if you're a masochist. What more can you say? What can you say to that at all? (But as a point of clarification, Stott didn't signal for the penalty and then take it back. The signal for a goal kick is basically in the same area, which is stupid. FIFA should consider coming up with signals more communicative than pointing in a direction, but probably won't because FIFA is incompetent).
Sadly, that wasn't the only penalty heartache of the day. Stott awarded the Sounders a penalty on a Chivas handball (that was perversely a little borderline, to be honest) and Alvaro Fernandez continued a well-worn Sounders tradition by missing it — sending it off the post to bounce off the back of Dan Kennedy's head and then out. Penalties were a huge problem for Seattle over the last two years — arguably costing the team the Supporters Shield in 2009. Seattle's looked better recently, but is still 4 of 6 this season, which is not an impressive conversion rate.
Penalty kicks weren't the only failures around the box. Despite completely dominating the chances against a Chivas team that was clearly content to sit back and counter with slow players who aren't particularly effective at countering, Seattle couldn't drive a goal home. Pat Noonan failed to get enough on a ball into an open net, which gave Kennedy time to make a diving save. He also headed an early chance over the bar. Tyson Wahl shanked an uncontested shot on the left side of the box. Fredy Montero dawdled too long on a ball when he was through the defense and it was tackled away from him. Fernandez had the best non-penalty chance of the night when he tried to deflect a Mauro Rosales cross in on the far post but Kennedy, who I'm pretty sure didn't know anything about it, managed to save it with a shin.
The inability to score from a pile of chances combined with the unfortunate news that O'Brian White has had a setback in his recovery from a blood clot put in stark relief the team's need for a reliable finisher. The international transfer window closes tomorrow. By some reports, the team already has to have submitted paperwork by yesterday to make the deadline (though I suspect MLS would bend over backwards to let one of their teams sign a big name player from abroad). Though a lack of moves this weekend wouldn't mean the team is prevented from making changes — there's always the possibility of a trade within the league — it would have to be acknowledged as an enormous missed opportunity for a team that glaringly has a need and has the resources to fill it.