Sounders FC loses first game
Seattle lost its captain, goalkeeper Kasey Keller, to a red card ejection in the 29th minute and Kansas City Wizards go on to win 1-0
Seattle Times staff reporter
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Sounders FC had managed to handle the jitters of opening night, the absences of its designated player and top scorer and a wild, beer-tossing, road-game crowd in its first three games. It got through all three with little trouble while going undefeated.
That changed Saturday night at Qwest Field, thanks to a new kind of adversity -- the sudden and unexpected ejection of captain and goalkeeper Kasey Keller.
Even a man down, Sounders FC attacked on offense and was the better team for much of the game. But all it took was one moment out of position on defense to send Seattle to the first MLS loss in its history, 1-0. Davy Arnaud's 30-yard strike barely eluded backup goalkeeper Ben Dragavon in the 80th minute, and that was all the Kansas City Wizards needed to prevail.
The Keller ejection was the story of the night. The 39-year-old veteran of top-flight European soccer, who said after the game that he'd not been sent off in 17 years, was lost to a red card in the 29th minute when he came out of the 18-yard penalty area to block a ball. Keller rushed out of the goal area to try for a slide tackle on Wizards midfielder Herculez Gomez. As the two got to the ball, Gomez kicked it at Keller's arms, which were tucked into his chest, and the head referee ruled that the ball hit Keller in the hands.
By rule, a goalkeeper cannot use his hands on the ball outside the box to block an obvious scoring opportunity. Such a rules violation results in an automatic red card. In addition to being ejected, Keller is also ineligible to play next week when Seattle (3-1-0) goes to Los Angeles to face Chivas USA in a battle of the top two teams in Major League Soccer's Western Conference
"Rules are rules, I guess," Keller said. "My arms weren't out wide, they were up against my chest ... it hit me in the arms and I was sent off. Obviously [I'm] extremely disappointed."
Keller added that he felt upset to have put the team in such a tough position, with only 10 players the rest of the game.
"What are you going to do? Field player, it's a free kick and nothing. As a goalkeeper, it's a red card," Keller said. "You make split-second decisions and unfortunately I paid the price for that one."
Sounders FC had no choice but to insert Dragavon for Keller and take out midfielder Sebastien Le Toux. Dragavon, a 25-year-old from Monroe, is not even on the 24-man roster and was only on the game-day roster the first four weeks of the season as an extreme-hardship player, because Sounders FC is without No. 2 goalkeeper Chris Eylander.
"It started off coming at me and then it just broke off," Dragavon said of Arnaud's shot.
Eylander is close to coming back from a knee injury suffered before the season, but was unavailable Saturday.
"From a health standpoint, I'm ready," Eylander said when asked about his availability for next week.
Sounders FC, which took no more than 17 minutes to score its first goal in its previous three matches, was shut out despite creating some chances.
Midfielder Brad Evans had a clear shot blocked by Wizards goalkeeper Kevin Hartman in the 56th minute. Four minutes later, midfielder Freddie Ljungberg, starting his first home game in front of a crowd of 28,746, drew a foul and free kick, and tapped the ball to Fredy Montero, who was back after missing last week's game at Toronto. Montero's blast from 20 yards glanced off the top of the cross bar and out of bounds.
Montero had another chance to score in the 65th minute when forward Nate Jaqua fed him from inside the goal box, giving Montero an open look. The shot was blocked by a Wizards defender.
José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Wizards 1, Sounders FC 0
|Kansas City||0 1 -- 1|
|Seattle||0 0 -- 0|
Kansas City -- Kevin Hartman, Matt Besler, Jimmy Conrad, Aaron Hohlbein, Davy Arnaud, Herculez Gomez (Michael Harrington, 77th), Santiago Hirsig (Michael Kraus, 64th), Jack Jewsbury, Lance Watson, Claudio Lopez (Roger Espinoza, 82nd), Josh Wolff.
Seattle FC -- Kasey Keller, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Tyrone Marshall, James Riley, Zach Scott (Sanna Nyassi, 86th), Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Fredrik Ljungberg (Steve Zakuani, 81st), Nate Jaqua, Sebastien Le Toux (Ben Dragavon, 31st), Fredy Montero.
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
UPDATE - 8:54 PM
Sounders lose to another expansion team
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.