Friday, August 20, 2010 |
The most obvious discussion point is the first half penalty on Seattle's Tyron Marshall; while attempting to clear the ball from the Sounders' box, Marshall caught a Marathon player with his follow-through. The contact likely merited the call, but Marshall had no intention of kicking the attacker. It seemed unfair at the moment of the incident, but it's difficult to label the call "blown."
Perhaps most frustrating is that Seattle actually played much better in the second half than in the first; chances came more often, Seattle's midfield was finally able to gain some measure of control, but they simply couldn't score. Marathon's runs up the flanks killed the Sounders in the first half, and on balance, probably deserved the lead they took into halftime.
Fredy Montero played well, though I wondered why he found it so difficult to pass the ball on a few occasions. He looked like he intended to take on Marthon by himself, and wasted a few good runs from teammates in the process. Alvaro Fernandez was strong, and his quality is evident. Blaise N'Kufo looked downright old, and I'm wondering if a busy summer has left him without the energy reserves needed for a season-ending push.
Seattle's defense struggled with the speed and quick passing of Marathon, and resorted to some physical play as a result. Tyrone Marshall particularly looked unable to cope, and while the penalty wasn't necessarily poor play on his part, he had several other moments of shakiness. Keller was called on to make important saves and did so; neither the first Marathon goal or the penalty were anything he could have kept out of his net.
Road points would have been bonus points for Seattle. Bonus lost, but Seattle now can't afford to drop points at home.
MLS teams come out of the first round of group games with three wins and a loss, with every home side holding serve. That's a strong enough showing to be positive about the chances of multiple MLS clubs making it to the knockout round next spring; there's a long way to go before anyone can be sure it will happen, but at least things have gotten off on the right track.