The Sounders suffered a doubly familiar loss to New York City FC today, 2-0 at CenturyLink Field.
The Sounders had good chances again, yet failed to score.
And City benefited from a hotly disputed referee’s call.
The disputed goal came in the 38th minute. The sequence started on a corner kick, which the Sounders initially dealt with but couldn’t fully clear. New York sent the ball back into the box, where it seemed to bounce oddly, hit the raised arm of Frak Lampard and went into the goal.
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Referee Alan Kelly conferenced with his assistant, before finally allowing the goal to stand.
Ronald Matarrita set the final score in the 87th minute.
The Sounders (5-9-1) lost for the fifth time in their last six MLS games, and were shut out for the fourth time in that streak.
They entered the game having scored the fewest goals in MLS: 13 goals in 14 games. However, despite those troubles getting the ball into the back of the net, designated player forward Nelson Valdez started the game on the bench, while young forwards Aaron Kovar, Jordan Morris and Joevin Jones started. Kovar has one career goal, while Jones opened the season as a left back. Valdez subbed on in the second half.
A crowd of 47,537 attended.
From here, the Sounders shift back into the U.S. Open Cup, visiting Real Salt Lake on Tuesday. Their next MLS match is Saturday at FC Toronto.
Here’s some postgame reaction:
Sounders FC Head Coach SIGI SCHMID
“Obviously we are not pleased with the result. The script was similar to last week in a certain regard. The first goal is a hand-ball goal, but that’s just the way it has been going. We’ve got to find a way to create our own luck, we’ve got to find a way to pull ourselves up.”
On playing the same starting XI as last match:
“We created chances in the first half – it’s just a matter of finishing those chances.”
On the lack of goals affecting the club’s confidence:
“I think it’s taking a toll on their confidence, yeah. A lot of times you get down when you’re not getting a goal. I think other teams know that we are struggling to get a goal – they are playing tight in the back, hoping they can get one. The only way you can change that is to get a result or somebody just has to stand up and something has to go your way at some point.”
On the effect of Frank Lampard’s goal:
“[It] changes the whole game. It’s a hand-ball, the referee doesn’t call it, they discuss it…they don’t see it, [NYCFC] goes up 1-0, we are down 1-0 and their confidence is up and our confidence is down.”
On the forwards break the opposing high line:
“They play a high line on defense, so it’s not our personnel, but their approach to the game. Red Bulls last week played a high line, too, and so we felt that we could get behind the high line, and we did. Once you get behind the high line, you have breakaways – instead of going a foot-and-a-half wide, it’s got to go six inches inside the post.”
On Nelson Valdez:
“He’s still working his way in terms of fitness since he didn’t train much with Paraguay, but we wanted to keep [Jordan] Morris inside. I don’t think playing wide for him is the best, so we brought him inside. At the end of the game we switched it more to a 4-4-2 and let him and Morris play together up front.”
On how a lack of goals affects the game:
“A lack of goals – goals change everything. If the first breakaway goes in, if the second breakaway goes in, even when we’re down 1-0 and the third breakaway goes in, then all of a sudden everyone’s chests puff out a little bit and everyone feels a little better, and we move on.”
On the “dam breaking” like it did last season:
“Dam has to break, but the difference is that we’re a much younger team. You’re putting guys out there – Morris who is a rookie, [Aaron] Kovar who is young in terms of minutes in MLS, Oalex [Anderson] is a young player, as well, and [Cristian] Roldan’s minutes are limited – you don’t have some of the guys who had more MLS experience that we had on the team last year. We’ve got to rock-n-roll with that because that’s just the way it is. On the same token, those guys now have enough minutes where we as a team need to create more.”
Sounders FC DEFENDER BRAD EVANS
On fans leaving early and the overall feeling of the loss:
“I probably would have left to. I’ve never been in a game where I’ve had to scream so many times for people to wake up, to the point where I almost lost my voice…It should be a given that you have to work your ass off at home, every ball. When you lose the ball you gotta track back and win it. The givens aren’t there and that’s why we are losing games.”
On the difference between this lull in the season and that of years past:
“Yeah [it feels different] of course. I think we’ve always found a way to right the wrongs and go on little streaks here and there. But definiltey feels a little different right now. I can’t sit here and be too angry because at the end of the day that will resonate with the group and the last thing you want is for certain people to go different directions at the middle point of a season, but you know we all have to recognize that we have to do better.”
On not feeling a sense of urgency with some of the team:
“No, I think that in some sitautions it’s ok [to lose] and they’ve been on teams before where it’s ok. That can’t happen here. We come to the midpoint of the season where it can go one of two ways now. Right now we can’t afford to lose because if we lose two or three we will end of bottom two in the league. You have to come in and work and put your head down and be ready to go.”
SOUNDERS FC DEFENDER TYRONE MEARS
On the small margin of error:
“I think it’s confidence. We always seem to start the game well. I think at the beginning of the season we weren’t great in terms of having possession of the ball. I think now we are starting to create a lot of chances and now it’s just a matter of finishing those chances. The longer the game goes on maybe a few heads start to drop. I don’t think it’s the coaching staff or anything like that. It’s us players, we have got to change that mentality. We have to put the ball in the back of the net, be ruthless.”
On getting a good view on NYFC’s first goal, and the potential handball:
“I thought he touched it with his hand. It was a difficult decision for the referee.”
On not letting a goal like the potential handball hurt the morale of the team:
“I mean you can sit around and feel sorry for yourself, or you can roll your sleeves up and understand that there’s still a long way to go in the season and this [loss] was dissapoiting and last week was disappointing, but only the players can change this and we’ve got to stick together and have that belief.”
SOUNDERS FC MIDFIELDER CRISTIAN ROLDAN
On the overall thoughts of the game:
“I thought we had our chances. Before the goals even happened whether is was a hand ball or not we had our chances and couldn’t finish.”
On the young guys up front and their confidence:
“No those guys are tough people and they have good teammates around them and they are always encouraged. I think it’ll be hard for them but for sure they can cope with it and they will be fine.”
On the similarity of this hard stretch to the same one last season:
“Oh no I think it’s different. I think you know we weren’t playing the best soccer last year with all those guys injured we were missing key players in general. A lot of our guys are here and we are playing well and it’s just a matter of finishing our copportunities early.”
NEW YORK CITY FC Head Coach PATRICK VIEIRA
On their success on the road this season:
“I think it’s because we commit and are working hard. We respect our game plan and we didn’t give them any chance to really develop their game. Today they were well positioned, well disciplined and we made it very difficult for them.”
On if he’d seen Frank Lampard’s goal:
“No, not yet.”
On how that goal changed the game:
“It didn’t change anything. We stuck to our principles. From the start to the end, I was really pleased. The team worked hard and worked well together. It was really difficult for Seattle to play their normal game. I think today was one of, if not the most, complete game. We were fantastic today.”
On the midfield play and the space created:
“We made it really difficult for them because of the movement. They like to play true to the midfield. Today Tommy [McNamara] and Jack [Harrison] worked really, really hard. We were really compact and didn’t really give them a chance to play through our line, especially centrally.”
On the big three coming together:
“I’m really pleased and not surprised by their quality because I’ve known them quite a long time and I’m working with them every day. The way they played today is the same way they’re training. They love the game, they want to win and want to bring success to this football club. They buy into the project so I’m not at all surprised by their performance today.”
On the difference in the past few games:
“I think the players understand more of the messages. When you keep working every single day in the same way…even when we went through the difficult period, we kept believing in what we are doing. And the results are getting better. We’re still far away from what we want to achieve. There are some parts of the game that we want to improve, but we are getting better as a team. Players are starting to perform and show how good they are and I’m really pleased with that.”
On how Lampard is rounding into form:
“He’s still not at his best because he’s been out for quite a while. But when you look at all of the goals that he’s scored in his career, I’m not surprised that he scored last game and in this game today. The way we play, he will score even more goals. What is important for me and the staff is to keep him fit and work with him then hopefully he’ll have the same type of performance that he had last week and today.”
On the team’s defense today:
“I was really pleased because it’s not an easy place to come and score two goals then go back to New York with no goals conceded. It’s true that we conceded a few goals the last few games, but that’s why it was good today, more than the three points, but how solid we looked. I was really pleased with not only the way we defended in the back four, but also the way David [Villa], Jack [Harrison] and Tommy [McNamara] worked really hard and [made it] difficult for them. We were compact, worked very hard with each other and, at the end, we got the result. When the front players are playing like they did today, they make it easy for our back four and for the goalkeeper.”
NEW YORK CITY FC MIDFIELDER FRANK LAMPARD
On the team’s performance:
“Very good. I thought we played very well, particularly in the first-half I think we controlled the game. They played good football and they are a good team, so we are very pleased. I think it was a complete team performance.”
On playing in one of Seattle’s five full-stadium matches:
“I loved it. I mean I’ve been here before with Chelsea quite a lot – we played preseason games here – and I know they are a soccer-loving city with great support. It was a pleasure to play here. We were all very up for the game to play in a stadium like this with the fans, even though they’re supporting their team. It’s a great atmosphere and I think we rose to the occasion.”
On his goal:
“Yeah it wasn’t the most beautiful goal. It came off my chest, but it was an important goal for us. I think we had started pretty well and played good football but couldn’t get in front, so I was pleased with us getting in front. In the second half, maybe we didn’t play so well, but I think we created more chances and I think we got a goal that I think we deserved. I think Seattle can’t complain – albeit they’re a good team – they can’t complain because I think we played well today.”
On the formation with five midfielders:
“Yeah we try to make it five men when we’re defending, and then make it three men when we attack, at least. We try to get bodies forward. You know Jack [Harrison] is on the right wing; he’s trying to get forward. Tommy [McNamara] helps out in midfield but also gets forward. We work hard through the week so you can get your rewards. Credit to the staff, credit to the manager and to the players also. We always work with a view to the opposition and what we can do to hurt them and I think our game plan today was spot on.”
NEW YORK CITY FC GOALKEEPER JOSH SAUNDERS
On the team’s performance:
“I thought it [the performance] was great. I thought we came out possessing the ball really well. We played confident all the way through and made the most of our chance.”
On the clean sheet in a tough environment on the road:
“It always feels great – this was our third clean sheet on the year – so it’s always nice to get those. We’re looking to build off of this. You know, we had a good defensive performance, so it’s a great win away from home.”
On being one of the few NYCFC players who has played at CenturyLink:
“Yeah I think for a lot of guys it was just more me using my experience and telling them exactly what it was going to be like. You know, it’s always loud here and it’s a great environment to be in. If you’re not ready for this game, then you can’t get ready for any game.”
On Seattle’s crowd compared to other teams in the league:
“Obviously Seattle has one of the best crowds in the league. They have great fan support – they cheered all the way through end of the game. They clapped for all their guys at the end, and it’s great [for Seattle] to have the fans behind them.”
NEW YORK CITY FC FORWARD KHIRY SHELTON
On the team’s performance:
“I thought we played well today. Seattle is a good side and they’ve been playing really good football lately and we just came to work today. Everyone gave 100% and played really well today.”
On his and NYCFC’s first match in Seattle:
“It is a great atmosphere in front of this crowd. These fans always show Seattle love, and I respect that so much as a player.”
On coming off the bench in a hectic environment:
“Yeah it is different. But it’s something you get used to and something I’ve done several times before, so it’s nothing new for me, but the atmosphere was great.”
REFEREE ALAN KELLY (questions via the pool reporter)
Did you or the fourth official witness Frank Lampard hand making contact with the ball in the sequence leading to his goal?