A 3-1 loss against the Eastern Conference cellar dwellers was not the way Seattle coach Sigi Schmid wanted to start the second half of the season.
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Looking back, Schmid believed the match turned on the missed penalty kick by Pat Noonan in the 60th minute. At that point, with the score tied 1-1, Seattle had a chance to restore their one-goal cushion and answer a Philly penalty-kick goal from former Sounder Sebastien Le Toux. Instead, Union goalkeeper Chris Seitz gobbled up Noonan’s poorly taken penalty and Seattle sank to their fourth loss in five games.
For a club that had talked about making a run in the second half of the season, it was a dispiriting defeat. It also served notice that Seattle’s struggles were not squelched by the World Cup break. They were merely interrupted.
“We had the goal, and we should have scored a second goal off the PK, and we didn't,” said Schmid. “Then the game changes. They ended up winning and scoring the goals they needed to win the game.”
Schmid generally picks his penalty kick takers before the match. In 2009, he expressed his consternation when Fredy Montero took a penalty out of turn. The Colombian missed that penalty against the New England Revolution in a 1-0 loss. One can’t help but think Montero could have made a more admirable effort than Noonan did.
To be fair, no Sounders player has had much luck from the spot. Amazingly, Seattle have not scored on a penalty kick in Major League Soccer play. Freddie Ljungberg, Montero, and now Noonan have all come up empty. Against Philly, the failure was enough to turn the game.
“That killed us at the end,” Schmid said. “If we score that penalty kick and make it 2-1, I think the game's a different game."
After Seitz’s save, Philadelphia seized control. Seattle goalkeeper Kasey Keller kept the Union off the scoresheet for as long as he could, recording excellent saves on Fred and Alejandro Moreno in the 71st minute. Keller’s seven saves set a season high as the veteran came out of the break in excellent form.
"Keller came up big on some big saves. The header off [Cristian] Arrieta was probably his best save,” Schmid said of Keller. “He had another good save going to his right, but that's what a goalkeeper is supposed to do. That's his job."
Teammate Nate Jaqua was not so lucky. In his first action of the 2010 season, the Sounders stalwart committed an error that led directly to the second goal. Defending in his own penalty area, the lanky player had the ball go right between his legs to the grateful Fred, who scored what would be the winning goal.
It was a deserved win for the Union. Philadelphia led in nearly every statistical category and peppered Seattle with 13 shots on goal. The Sounders now face two west-coast trips in the next week: a midweek US Open Cup match against Portland followed by a July 4 date against the LA Galaxy.
“We lacked energy and we let them back into the game,” Noonan said. “I had to get that PK in but I didn’t. They came back and scored and put it away. It’s frustrating. We need to go win in Portland to bounce back. That’s about it.”