SEATTLE – After Saturday’s 2-1 loss against Real Salt Lake, a disappointed Sounders locker room struggled to come to grips with the heartbreaking defeat.
Despite a solid offensive performance that once again hinged on the magic of midfielder Mauro Rosales, the focus will lie squarely on the two biggest gaffes of the match – a missed penalty from Rosales and an odd own goal from Kasey Keller.
Rosales’ miss in the 16th minute continued Seattle’s three-year run of frustration from the penalty spot. Seattle have converted just five of eight shots from the mark this season (62.5 percent), and just six of 12 shots (50 percent) in franchise history.
On Rosales’ effort, the Argentinean chose the correct direction as Nick Rimando dived the other way, but he saw his shot go just wide of the left post. Coach Sigi Schmid was at a loss to explain his team’s lack of accuracy from 12 yards.
“It’s been different people [taking the penalty kicks],” Schmid said. “I don’t know what else to do in terms of that.”
“When we miss PKs in games, it costs us,” he added. “We missed one in LA and ended up with a tie. We missed one against Chivas and ended up with a tie. Today we missed one and it would have given us a tie. Obviously it’s disappointing and I think now it’s in people’s heads because we have missed so many.”
Rosales himself took ownership of the mistake. Visibly disappointed after the match, Seattle’s MVP candidate said it was a “pity” that he couldn’t convert.
“It was a little bit a strange game,” Rosales said. “We control the ball; we play good soccer. We couldn’t score more goals and we created chances […] the fair result would have been a draw, I think.”
Like Rosales, Keller was also quick to fess up for his error. On the odd play, Keller appeared to scoop the ball into his own net under pressure from Real Salt Lake’s Álvaro Saborío. So strange was the play that Seattle’s play-by-play announcer Arlo White momentarily thought the ball had gone out for a corner kick.
In the locker room, Keller was quick to admit blame for the bizarre opener.
“The first goal was my fault,” Keller said. “It was a good cross in, [there was] pressure. The ball checked up a little bit on the turf and I kind of overran it. Then I just tried to hook it back and get it out of bounds. Unfortunately, I got it too close to the wrong side of the post.
“I have to do better on that, and that’s it,” Keller added.
For a team that could seemingly do no wrong in August, the 2-1 loss was a splash of reality. The Sounders now trail the LA Galaxy by seven points with six games remaining in the race for the Supporters’ Shield.
Andrew Winner covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com.