Seattle Sounders FC didn’t lack for chances in their 1-0 loss to New York, nor did they play a conservative match. The home side forced 12 corner kicks and directed 17 shots on New York’s net. Even in the first half, Seattle committed players forward in attack, searching for the early goal.
However, that goal never came, making Macoumba Kandji’s opportunistic first-half strike off a corner kick the difference on the night. Under the scrutiny of a loss, Seattle’s inability to finish on set pieces was magnified.
“We had a ton of corners, we had a ton of free kicks, we need to be more effective on those things,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said. “We’ve got to ... make sure we become more effective on that. I’m not displeased with our effort, I’m not displeased with our ability to get forward but I am displeased with our ability to finish.”
Try as it might, nothing Seattle mustered could break the seal on the New York goal. Even with center backs Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Tyrone Marshall pushed up into the opponent’s penalty area, the Sounders players couldn't capitalize on the glut of set pieces.
After the match, Hurtado was at a loss to explain Seattle’s lack of punch on free kicks, an issue that also troubled the team in 2009.
“In these corner kicks, the other team marked us and set the defense so it’s not always easy,” he said. “We had some opportunities, not too many, off of corner kicks but the important thing is to know this is in the past.”
Seattle, in its eagerness to get a goal off a free kick, left itself open to counterattacks from the speedy New York attackers. While the defense held firm, the occasional sight of three Red Bulls attackers bearing down on two Seattle defenders led to some nervous moments from Seattle goalkeeper Kasey Keller.
“With the speed they have on the wings and the movement of the two forwards, they are definitely going to rely on counterattacking, and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t,” Keller said. “I remember playing some Arsenal teams of old where the most dangerous time they are is when you have a corner. That’s almost what it felt like today.”
Chasing the game in the second half, Seattle used all three substitutes. None could affect the outcome, although newly signed Pat Noonan swung in some excellent crosses from the right side of midfield.
Despite the loss, the mood in the locker room was not overly negative. While the team is unhappy with the loss at home, Keller said the players worked hard and created a handful of chances. The defensive effort was solid as well—if left back Leo González had cleared the corner kick that led to Kandji’s goal, it might have been a 0-0 game.
As Keller said, on another night, Sounders FC could have put three goals in the back of the net.
“I think there were a lot of chances for both teams,” Keller said. “Credit to both teams—they kept going forward, trying to make the game exciting. Like I said before, we had our chances to level it up and get back in the lead but we couldn’t take advantage of it.”