In a season that seemed to be shaping up almost perfectly, the Seattle Sounders have suddenly made a habit of dropping points. They've now gone three straight without a win and while they are still in fine position, it's not nearly as good as it was a couple weeks ago.
The loss to the Columbus Crew is easily the most frustrating of the bunch. It wasn't for lack of chances or lack of effort. This was not an example of the Sounders "running out of ideas" or being out-managed. This was a simple example of a team just failing to finish the job.
If Alvaro Fernandez hits that header the way he does 90 percent of the time, it's a different game. If Andy Gruenebaum doesn't come up with a massive reflex save while diving to his left on Fredy Montero's shot, it's a different game. If Montero doesn't hit a 1 v. 1 chance right at the goalkeeper ... well, you get the idea. Justifiably lost in an otherwise frustrating game was a nice bounce back game from David Estrada, who easily could have picked up assists on each of those aforementioned chances.
CLB - Justin Meram (Dilly Duka, Emilio Renteria) 15'
CLB - Emilio Renteria 76'
Seattle Sounders FC: Bryan Meredith, Adam Johansson (Jhon Kennedy Hurtado 61), Jeff Parke, Zach Scott, Marc Burch, David Estrada (Andy Rose 78), Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Alvaro Fernandez (Mauro Rosales 61), Fredy Montero, Eddie Johnson.
Substitutes Not Used: Andrew Weber, Alex Caskey, Roger Levesque, Sammy Ochoa.
TOTAL SHOTS: 21 (Montero 9); SHOTS ON GOAL: 6 (Montero 3); FOULS: 10 (Alonso, Johnson, Scott 2); OFFSIDE: 2 (Johnson 2); CORNER KICKS: 12 (Montero 9); SAVES: 0.
Columbus Crew: Andy Gruenebaum, Sebastian Miranda, Carlos Mendes, Josh Williams, Nemanja Vukovic, Dilly Duka (Tony Tchani 57), Danny O'Rourke (Kevan George 45), Cole Grossman, Justin Meram (Bernardo Anor 80), Eddie Gaven, Emilio Renteria.
Substitutes Not Used: Matt Lampson, Shaun Francis, Eric Gehrig, Olman Vargas.
TOTAL SHOTS: 5 (Renteria, Vukovic 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 2 (Meram, Renteria 1); FOULS: 13 (Mendes 3); OFFSIDE: 3 (Renteria 2); CORNER KICKS: 1 (Tchani 1); SAVES: 7 (Gruenebaum 7).
CLB - Dilly Duka (caution) 47'
CLB - Carlos Mendes (caution) 71'
SEA - Marc Burch (caution) 85'
SEA - Osvaldo Alonso (caution) 88'
Referee: Geoff Gamble
Referee's Assistants: Kevin Duliba, Jeff Hosking
4th Official: Alejandro Mariscal
Time of Game: 1:55
Weather: Cloudy and 54 degrees
POSTGAME QUOTES: Sounders FC vs. Columbus Crew - May 23, 2012
Sigi Schmid - Sounders FC Head Coach
(On the result...) "Not happy. I thought we gave up a soft goal in the first half. We've got to do a better job of marking at the back post and we've got to score the goal right before halftime. The opportunity that [Alvaro] Fernandez had makes it 1-1 and that changes everything - goals change games. It doesn't matter how much possession we have, or how much we dominate that part, or how much possession we have in their end of the field. It's the final quality of what you do. [Columbus Crew goalkeeper Andy] Gruenebaum comes up with a big save on [Fredy] Montero to keep it at 1-nothing at a time. [Emilio] Renteria hits a good goal, but a goal that you've got to realize a bouncing ball. You've got to maybe get a little closer to your line as a goalkeeper because when it's bouncing you know that's a possibility. You can't get caught off your line. So right now we're just making individual errors and those individual errors are costing us and people are punishing us for them."
(On Adam Johansson's injury...) "Hamstring. I don't know how bad it is at this stage."
(On if he sees any reoccurring trends in the way Seattle has been playing during their 0-2-1 stretch in their last three games...) "Individual mistakes. It's individual mistakes of people just doing the wrong reaction. Whether you look at a ball that skips over Adam [Johansson] against Real Salt Lake and ends up being a goal, even though we dominated the game. You look at us not running with [Vancouver Whitecaps FC's Alain] Rochat in Vancouver and [Jeff] Parke not sliding out. You look at Adam [Johansson] letting the guy get inside of him at the back post. A bouncing ball...a younger goalkeeper is off his line a couple steps when he needs to be back. So it's individual mistakes, but we're also hurting ourselves because we're also turning the ball over at times. We've got to get on the same page. We can't have a free kick where we send our center backs forward and then we decide to play it short, and then we lose the ball and it's a counter and that's the start of the first goal. Or send our center backs forward and we've got a free kick and we shoot it and it gets blocked and we're lucky they didn't counter on us there. It's just right now we seem to be not on the same page at times when we're doing things and that's my job and I've got to make sure that we get on the same page."
(On if the individual mistakes may have come from the team being tired...) "We had a week before Vancouver, so you've just got to concentrate on it. We've got to be more disciplined. We've got to get back to what we were doing at the beginning of the year, which is we all chipped in and we all worked hard for each other defensively and then took our opportunities when we got them. But it's my job as a coach to make sure that we get on the same page and that we come out with that motivation. I thought the first 20 minutes of the second half we were very good, but we can't wait 45 minutes always before we begin to play."
(On not getting the desired results at home...) "It's like I've told you before, teams get pumped up to play here. It's not all about us and so forth. Yeah, the crowd helps us and it's great that the crowd stays behind us even when the game is not going our way and that's something as a team and as a club we're very appreciative of. But also teams get pumped up when they play here. Teams find their best games sometimes when they play here, their best game of the whole year. So it's a motivating factor for the opponent as well as being a motivating factor for us."
(On if he saw a game like this coming...) "You hope a game like this isn't coming, but it's always been a streaky league. You're going to have good streaks, you're going to have bad streaks and like I said, there's going to be streaks where you average a point a game and there's going to be streaks where you average two points a game. Right now we're giving away some games in hand, so I'm not happy about that and obviously, going 0-2-1 in the last three games is also something that we're not happy about. But we've got to make this streak as short as possible and get out of it."
(On what they need to do before Saturday's match at Chivas USA...) "We've got to see who's healthy, but we need to soul search. I need to soul search. Our staff needs to [soul search]. We need to figure out what are things that we want to do, even at the end of the game where we wanted certain guys to do things and explained it to them and they still didn't quite do what we wanted them to do. But again, I'm not pointing to them. I'm pointing to myself. I've got to make sure that gets done, so we've got to have a coming to the mountain and understating that we've got to get back on the same page."
(On if refocusing and coming together as a team will be harder on a short week...) "When you play a game like this the first thing you want to do is play again. You want to get out on the field so that you can erase the memory of this kind of game."
(On scoring opportunities...) "Obviously, we had chances. [Alvaro] Fernandez's chance at the end of the first half is as good a look as you're going to get. That's as close to almost an empty net as possible and Fredy [Montero] did well by turning his shot on the goal. We had a couple of other balls around there, but not quite as clean as we like it to be, but teams are also playing us very defensively. They're packing it in the back and so they're making it hard for us to break them down. There's not a lot of space for us sometimes to get in behind them. So the quality of the service has to be a little bit better, the quality of the runs has to be a little bit better and that's something that we're going to continue to work on."
(On Mauro Rosales and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado being out of the starting lineup tonight...) "Mauro is pretty banged up. At least today he didn't get kicked. Every other game it seems when he starts the opponent wants to kick him. With [Jhon] Kennedy [Hurtado] we felt we were trying to give our defenders a little bit of a break because they've logged a lot of minutes, especially with the injuries we have in the back, so that was the reason for those two changes."
Bryan Meredith - Sounders FC Goalkeeper
(On the game...) "I'm very disappointed in myself, for sure. I think they only got like three shots on goal and two of them went in the back of the net. So it definitely was not a good day for me, not a good day for the team. But I think right now we're in a bit of a slump and we've just got to find our way out of it."
(On the first goal...) "The first goal was a teasing ball, curling away - out-swinger - and the player got in front of Adam [Johannson] and put it back across the other way."
(On wishing he had the second goal back...) "Yeah, that's a tough goal. We're pushing the whole second half. We have a lot of the ball, a lot of opportunities. Then, a little scramble, he wins the ball and just strikes it first-time. I'm definitely not expecting him to hit that first-time. I don't think any of us were. But he hit it well. If I could have just dropped back a little quicker, I think it would have been an easier save, rather than a goal."
Eddie Johnson - Sounders FC Forward
(On the game...) "First, I just want to give credit to Columbus. They came here and to play in front of 40,000 fans against a good team. They were well-disciplined for 90 minutes and hard to break down. Sometimes football is like that. You have a lot of chances and the keeper made some good saves on Fredy's [Montero] opportunities, but on another day those shots go in. It was just not our day, but credit to those guys."
(On why they haven't had more success at home...) "I think teams-talking to some of the guys-I think it's going to always be difficult coming home. A lot of teams in MLS have a lot of respect for our team. They know it's tough coming here and they just try to get 10 guys behind the ball and try and score on a set piece. Once they get a goal, they pack it in. It's something we've got to work on, we've got to expect. But at the end of the day, I'd be worried about our team if we weren't creating chances but we're creating chances. It's just a matter of us putting them in the back of the net. I thought we got some good service sometimes, that final ball wasn't there but I thought we were getting some good runs and getting some good crosses on it. Like I said, on another day, those opportunities go in."
(On those goals coming against the run of play...) "The first goal, that was a good goal. I think they had the ball for a little bit, got it out wide and crossed the ball in and the guy made a good run from outside-in. That was a good goal. I thought we came out in the second half and really tried to take the game at them. That's football, that happens when the other team's pushing to get the equalizer. I think they got a throw-in and we were unfortunate to clear. The ball bounced in our defensive half and the guy hit a nice shot. It caught [Bryan] Meredith unexpected. But that's football. We tried to come out and like I said, get something out of the second half but we were unfortunate to not but I credit our opponents."
(On what they need to do before their next game on Saturday at Chivas USA...) "Just the biggest thing is it's over with. The good thing is - like you said, we're winless in three - but the good thing is we've got a quick turnaround so we don't have a long time to dwell on this loss. We have a tough game coming up against Chivas USA away and we've just got to be prepared to go out there and get a result. It's not going to be easy. No game is easy in MLS. It's a tough league. We've just got to get right. I'm not too concerned, like I said. If we weren't creating chances, then you'd have to be concerned but we're creating chances and eventually they'll go in."
Marc Burch - Sounders FC Defender
(On the game...) "We have to figure out a way to play against teams that do that. Everybody sits in and they wait for one guy to try to make something happen. The second goal killed us. We were completely dominating in the second half, and most of the first half, too. They might have had two or three shots. We're definitely the better team. We just have to figure out a way to win here."
(On going forward...) "We have Chivas on Saturday and we need to win. We need to get back in the win column and start moving up the ladder. It's a Western Conference game so it's a big deal. Chivas is starting to get some points now."
David Estrada - Sounders FC Midfielder
(On the game...) "We knew it was going to be a hard-fought match. They probably had two chances they put on point. I think we were just unlucky that we didn't get a goal today."
(On being close on a few chances...) "They were good shots from Fredy [Montero]. The keeper just had a good night. They just didn't fall for us tonight."
Robert Warzycha - Columbus Crew Head Coach
(On the first win over Seattle...) "Obviously Seattle is a good team. We finally got the win, we were close a few times."
(On the goals...) "Both goals were very good."
(On beating Seattle to the ball...) "If you look at the entire game it was physical. We matched Seattle's intensity. They were playing in front of their home crowd and it's usually very tough to play here they have momentum. After the first twenty minutes we had composure."
"Goals change the game. I think they are a very good, you have to respect what they do at home. When we come here with a team like we have, a lot of new players, they just want to stick together and prove that we are a decent team."
(On getting better through the season...) "Nothing has changed, the team is getting the time they need... you win some games and you lose some games. Sometimes what you do on the field is right and sometimes what you do on the field is wrong."
Cole Grossman - Columbus Crew Midfielder
(On playing his first 90 minutes...) "It's pretty cool, winning my first game 2-0 here. Nice way to begin, hopefully, a long career. Good first game."
(On the result...) "I think it's been pretty well stated throughout the league that his is a pretty amazing place to play. First class, big time franchise. To win here 2-0 is pretty special and I feel happy to have played a part in the victory."
"To be honest it's phenomenal, our best player, captain, didn't even come. So many injuries. To come and play two of the best teams of the league and come away with four points is great going forward into the season."
Emilio Renteria - Columbus Crew Forward
(On his goal) "I saw the goalie outside the goal and decided to chip the ball in."
(On being comfortable chipping the ball...) "It's not something I do every time, I like to shoot more. In that situation I thought I could score and I did."
Andy Gruenebaum - Columbus Crew Goalkeeper
(On the Seattle Sounders' early attack...) "Obviously Seattle is a great team, they're going to come out strong and hard for their fans. They're going to come after us and we're going to have to weather a few storms here and there. We did a pretty good job of it. We scored first and it was a great goal."
(On Fredy Montero's shots) "The one to my left he just hit it hard with his left foot and I was able to react and make a save. He hit one across to my right and I was happy I held onto it, ran into a few guys. He's a great player and he's going to get some looks every game, he makes those opportunities himself. It's a milestone win for us and hopefully we can build on it.
(On what's going right...) "We're not conceding too many goals. We're weathering storms, it's a tough road trip on the west coast. Typically it's been more tough for us. I think we weathered the storm, made a goal ourselves and they had to come out of their shell and we countered and got a second one."