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Sunday, May 16, 2004 - Page updated at 12:15 A.M.
By Matt Massey
With each miss, the Seattle Sounders' frustration grew.
Crossbar. Post. Crossbar. Save.
With a wealth of talent, the Sounders are falling short of their high expectations early in 2004. The chances were there, but Seattle couldn't convert them.
Jake Sagare's early second-half goal left the Sounders shaking their heads after a frustrating 1-0 loss to the rival Portland Timbers in last night's A-League Western Conference match before 3,907 fans at Seahawks Stadium.
Seattle fell to 0-2-1 with one point in the Western Conference standings. The Sounders have scored two goals in three matches.
"It's almost maddening, really," said Sounders midfielder Jason Farrell, the team captain and senior-most player at 33. "Personnel-wise, I'd put our team up with any team in the league, but that means nothing unless you back it up.
"It's not like we're losing and playing well. We're not playing well and making stupid mistakes."
Sagare gave Portland a 1-0 lead in the 52nd minute on a 15-yard blast into the upper right corner of the net after a pass from Alan Gordon. The goal stunned the Sounders, who had dominated the match until that point.
"The crossbar was my best friend tonight," Portland goalkeeper Josh Saunders said. "Those shots off the crossbar, that was a little scary."
After missing the first two matches with a strained left groin, key offseason signee Welton made his Sounders debut when he entered in the 62nd minute. The former two-time Major League Soccer All-Star immediately made Saunders make a save at the left post on a header.
The Sounders outshot Portland 23-9, forcing Saunders to save nine shots on goal.
"We have all those misses as excuses, but excuses are for losers," Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said. "I'm not making any excuses. We didn't execute in the final third (of the field).
"I know we're better than our record right now. We're a much better soccer team than that."
The match also counted as the final leg of qualifying for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup as the Timbers claimed a spot in America's oldest cup tournament, ending the Sounders' streak of five consecutive Open Cup appearances.
The Sounders, who outshot Portland 14-6 in the first half, put the pressure on the Timbers during a 13-minute stretch early in the match, pelting the goal with eight shots in the opening 22 minutes. Levesque hit the crossbar with a header in the ninth minute and Jason Farrell boomed a 25-yard shot off the crossbar in the 20th for the two best scoring chances early.
"I thought it was going to go in," Farrell said. "We had five or six really good opportunities early on. We need to find a way to put those in. If we get an early goal, it's a completely different game."
Portland 1, Seattle 0
Goals Por: 1. Sagare (Gordon) 52:00. Shots Por 9, Sea 23. Saves Por (J. Saunders) 8, Sea (Burpo) 3. Fouls Por 14, Sea 15. Offsides Por 2, Sea 3. Corner kicks Por 2, Sea 10. Cautions Por (Morrison 24:00, Alvarez 40:00, S. Saunders 57:00), Sea (Scott 33:00). Ejections Por (None), Sea (None). Att 3,907.
Sounders Women 7, Calgary 0: Veteran forward Brenda Mueller and defender Katie Myake each scored two goals and Michelle French, former U.S. National team member, had two assists in her debut as Seattle blitzed its Canadian foes in its W-League season opener.
The Sounders outshot the Mustangs 14-2.
Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company
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