The Seattle Sounders won the game and lost the series. It seems like 2011 repeating itself, except that in 2011 there was the highlight of winning the US Open Cup and winning in Mexico. Still, this second leg of the Western Conference Final was a well played match, the kind of match that if the Sounders repeated a couple dozen times a year there would be no doubts about their quality.
There is the little problem of this being leg two and leg one was a giant egg. Also, the second year where that happened.
Eddie Johnson ended his MLS Cup Playoff goalless streak when he scored, it was at eight matches. And then a few moments later his goal actually counted. Fredy Montero extended his MLS Cup Playoff goalless streak, despite also playing a quality match. Montero's is now at 10 matches. One could blame one of those players for a lack of "stepping upedness" or something. It would be stupid. It would also be dumb to claim that either has done enough in their significant playoff histories. Johnson may have had his best match as a Sounder and yet it was in this odd second leg where a win was actually a loss and leaves us all feeling dissatisfied and yet in some ways content.
The entire season of 2012 was likely the best that Zach Scott ever had as a pro player. He scored a goal on a set-play again. Scott admits that those goals are because he's small and determined and facing off against an attacking player. It was his third goal in all competitions on the season. He also set an MLS career high in minutes played. This match specifically was one of his best. His defense was strong and the 57th minute goal added to his earlier assist. Tonight was Scott's night and yet in the post-game radio interview he was clearly dissatisfied. His personal success was not enough.
Steve Zakuani came back. It was the classic Zakuani. Speed and foot skills that showed a truly special talent. He could push wide around Franklin or split the help defense or cut inside ruining the help. It was as strong as we've seen in almost two years. It came too late, and at no fault of his own.
Christian Tiffert and Brad Evans were both strong. They won balls, moved things forward and Tiffert's set-play service worked well. Also in the middle was Osvaldo Alonso, who despite his post-match dissent, was as good as any have ever seen.
Michael Gspurning showed well. He only had one amazing save, but that one was enough. He kept the scoreline at 2-1 and can't be blamed for the made PK.
Parke and Hurtado controlled Edson Buddle and Robbie Keane. One of those things looked easy on the night. The other was not. Keane is still a great talent and only his crafty play made this match close.
That crafty play was when he saw that Adam Johansson was running away from his arm so Keane passed the ball into Johansson's outstretched limb. Geiger called the PK and the game went from Seattle dominant to just another match of quality that occurred too late to make a difference.
Seattle's season ends with a two-one win. In MLS the playoff structure is such that a 2-1 win can still be a loss, in fact both Conference Finals ended with 4-2 aggregate scores. The Seattle Sounders won the game, lost the series and on the season it could be declared a draw. There were good moments and poor moments. They advanced further than ever in the Playoffs, made a 4th straight final and made the CCL knockouts again. There are probably four teams that can claim to have had better seasons (Houston, LA, San Jose and KC).
And yet, it doesn't feel like enough. We have another win that feels like a loss and leaves us wanting more. America's shortest off-season starts on November 19th and will run to as early as March 5th. There will be significant roster changes and now we are left wondering will they be the right changes.