Sounders come up empty, "just a little off" in shooting
It had been almost two years since the Seattle Sounders had a home outcome like the one Saturday night. It took some luster off the Sounders'...
Special to The Seattle Times
It had been almost two years since the Seattle Sounders had a home outcome like the one Saturday night. It took some luster off the Sounders' 2008 home opener.
The Sounders (1-1-2 United Soccer Leagues, 5 points) played a strong first half but couldn't muster anything steady in the second half of a scoreless tie against the rival Portland Timbers in front of 10,184 fans at Qwest Field.
The crowd was the best in a regular-season league match since the Sounders played the first event at Qwest (then Seahawks Stadium) in front of 25,515 fans on July 28, 2002.
The club's first scoreless tie at home in 35 matches overall — 26 in league — didn't sit well with Seattle.
The fans left wanting more, and it could have come in the ninth minute when Andre Schmid had a point-blank shot on an open left side of the net.
"We were just a little off," said Seattle midfielder Josh Gardner. "We've only scored three goals all year so far. We had Portland on their heels.
"We need to do a better job of putting one of those in. We've got to find a way and find the back of the net."
The last time the Sounders, the defending United Soccer Leagues First Division champion, played to a scoreless home deadlock was on June 2, 2006, against the Timbers.
Portland (3-0-2, 11 points) is tied with the Minnesota Thunder atop the standings despite getting off one shot on goal to Seattle's four.
Gardner narrowly missed converting a volley with his strong left foot, knocking the ball just over the cross bar in the 83rd minute from 9 yards.
"The goals are coming," Gardner said. "Once they come, they'll come in bunches."
In the early stages of the 90th minute, Japanese national player Takayuki Suzuki barely headed the ball over the cross bar for the Timbers on a near late goal.
The Sounders put the heat on the Timbers early in a scoreless first half, nearly cashing in for a pair of scores in the opening nine minutes. Schmid, subbing in the starting lineup for injured Roger Levesque (ankle), was pulled down by a Portland defender and fouled outside the penalty area in the sixth minute.
Then, in the ninth, Schmid couldn't get enough on a left-footed boot about 7 yards out. The ball sailed over the cross bar after a cross from Sebastien Le Toux, who is already signed by the Seattle Sounders FC for Major League Soccer in 2009.
In the 20th minute, Gardner banged a 24-yard shot from straightaway off goalkeeper Ray Burse's fingertips and then off the cross bar.
In the first meeting of the two teams on April 26, Portland came away with a 2-0 win at PGE Park. The Sounders lead the all-time series with Portland 18-12-4.
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
UPDATE - 8:54 PM
Sounders lose to another expansion team
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