SEATTLE — Looking at the statistics, it was a fairly close match between Seattle and Manchester United. The possession, the shots, corner kicks and saves—all were fairly equal in the final analysis.
The only difference came on the scoreboard.
Manchester United finished clinically against the Seattle Sounders on Wednesday night, putting seven of their 12 shots on goal into the back of the net. For Seattle coach Sigi Schmid, that alone distilled the difference between Major League Soccer and the English Premier League, a difference made stark by the 7-0 final score line.
WATCH: Full Match Highlights
“When you look at it, they had very few wasted chances,” Schmid said. “Every time they had a clean look on goal, it was in the back of the net. That’s the difference in quality between here and overseas.”
What was a competitive match in the first 45 minutes quickly turned lopsided in the second 45. The dropoff between Seattle’s reserves and Manchester United’s second XI was severe. It didn’t help that Seattle failed to mind their defensive shape — Schmid called his team’s defending “horrendous.”
Kasey Keller agreed, noting that the Sounders gave one of the best counterattacking teams in the world plenty of space to do just that.
Two quick goals in the first six minutes of the second half for United sealed Seattle’s fate. When, after going down 3-0, a strong flurry didn’t result in anything, Seattle was left at the mercy of the defending EPL champions.
Even when it looked as though something might go right for Seattle — an errant back pass from the United back line late in the match — it didn’t work out. Tanzanian trialist Mrisho Ngassa’s sliding chance with the goal gaping couldn’t find its way into the net, all but assuring the shutout.
Immediately after the match, Schmid regretted his staff’s let-everyone-play approach, saying he wished he’d kept his starters in for the second half. It could have made a difference, but when a team can bring Ji-Sung Park and Wayne Rooney in off the substitute’s bench — as Manchester United did Wednesday night — it will always be a difficult task.
Counterpart Sir Alex Ferguson tipped his hat to the opponents, saying they played well in the first half. He singled out Osvaldo Alonso, Mauro Rosales and Álvaro Fernández as quality players.
“For them, the counterattack was good in the first half,” Ferguson said after the match.
In victory, Ferguson, Ryan Giggs, and Rio Ferdinand were all complimentary of the 67,052 crowd. The sight of green and red shirts dotting CenturyLink Field made Sir Alex lament the impossibility of the same sight in the United Kingdom.
“The pleasing thing for me was all the fans mixed together,” Ferguson said. “That’s something we used to see in England and Scotland where the fans all mix together and there’s no trouble. I don’t know if we can ever get back to that. That was a pleasure tonight.”
Andrew Winner covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewWinnerMLS