Worst 10 minutes of the year cost Sounders

In retrospect, Saturday night's match against the New England
Revolution had all the markings of a trap game for Seattle Sounders FC.

The Sounders were coming off
two emotional wins in the past week — a 2-1 winner against Freddie Ljungberg’s
Chicago Fire and a 3-1 US Open Cup semifinal triumph over Chivas USA. Then they
had to fly cross-country to take on a Revolution team that has struggled in

Perhaps it was a combination of tired legs, poor defense or
a lack of composure. Most likely, it was a cocktail of all three as the
visitors fell apart in the final 30 minutes of a 3-1 loss to the Revs.


New England, one of the lowest-scoring squads in
Major League Soccer, exploded for three goals in 10 minutes. In the postmatch
comments, players and coaches from both teams believed Shalrie Joseph’s escape
of a red card was the match’s pivotal moment.

With Seattle holding a 1-0 lead, replays showed Joseph forcefully
slapping Sounders defender Patrick Ianni across the face and neck. Even though referee Silviu
Petrescu appeared to be looking directly at the play, he did not take any
action. Adding to the consternation for Seattle was a seemingly soft yellow
against Fredy Montero a few seconds after the eventual restart.  

Most would consider Joseph’s action a red card offense, even
if it had been precipitated by Ianni stepping on the Revs player’s foot. After
the match, the Sounders wondered how it could go unpunished. The incident
caused Seattle’s focus to waver and New England pushed through for three unanswered

“I thought we were OK, until we’re up 1-0 and the altercation occurred between Shalrie
and Patrick Ianni,” said head coach Sigi Schmid after the match. “At that
point, I thought we lost our composure a little bit and gave away a couple of
goals that we shouldn’t have given away. Obviously the game turned and they
scored their chances and the game was over.”

“It lifted us a little bit, if anything,” said New England’s
Chris Tierney. “Shalrie doesn’t go down easy, so you know something went down.”

Seattle’s goal-scorer Steve Zakuani agreed.

“I think that was probably the turning point with Shalrie and Patrick,” said Zakuani, who scored his eighth goal on the
season. “There was like a five-, six-minute delay and we just scored and after
that, I think we maybe – as our coach told us – lost our composure a little
bit. We tried to get it back, but they just really built off that.”

The Revolution scored twice in the three minutes that followed the incident to
take the lead. They added a third through Kheli Dube’s excellent strike on 81
minutes. Goalkeeper Kasey Keller called the stretch “the worst 10 minutes
we’ve played all year.” 

With the loss, Seattle fall back down to .500 on the season
(9-9-5). A seven-game unbeaten streak also falls by the wayside for the
Sounders, who will take Monday off before returning to practice on Tuesday. It’s
a short week for the Sounders, who host Real Salt Lake in a
nationally televised match on Thursday night.

The Sounders are ready to move on. In the final analysis,
Schmid attributed the loss to a lack of focus. At the time of the Ianni-Joseph altercation, New
England had already started to build momentum. Schmid didn’t think his team did enough to
nullify that momentum.

“Today I think we had a few lapses and it’s just a case of
we let them carry too much momentum,” Schmid said. “You could just see their
spirit and confidence building and we didn’t respond to that.”

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