Sounders FC settles for tie with New York Red Bulls
Seattle would have clinched a postseason berth with a win Sunday, but blew a second-half lead to the New York Red Bulls and had to settle for a 1-1 tie in front of 39,083 on a blustery and wet night at CenturyLink Field
Seattle Times staff reporter
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Sounders FC will have to wait at least another week to punch its playoff ticket.
Seattle would have clinched a postseason berth with a win Sunday, but blew a second-half lead to the New York Red Bulls and had to settle for a 1-1 tie in front of 39,083 on a blustery and wet night at CenturyLink Field.
The Sounders (15-8-6) had won their last six home games but still extended unbeaten streaks to 10-0-4 here and 5-0-2 overall. They also caught Real Salt Lake atop the Western Conference with two fewer games played, but a quiet locker room afterward indicated the result was two points lost, rather than a point gained.
“Definitely one of those where you feel like you let it slip,” said midfielder Brad Evans.
Coach Sigi Schmid said his team was even “a little fortunate” to sneak out with a tie.
“I didn’t think it was our best soccer,” he added. “I know we can play better than we played tonight. We still came out with a tie, so that’s something ... but obviously when we play at home, we’d like to win.”
The East-leading Red Bulls (15-9-7) had won four games in a row but ensured they will have the most points in MLS heading into October, again having played two more games than Seattle.
New York’s Markus Holgersson nearly scored on a 61st minute free kick, but his flick header was denied by the crossbar.
Two minutes later, forward Fabian Espindola’s header on a corner kick clipped the post.
The breakthrough came in the 76th minute, when designated player Tim Cahill curled in a perfectly placed right-footed shot past diving goalkeeper Michael Gspurning for his ninth goal of the season.
“New York was, for me, the better team in the second half,” Gspurning said. “That’s a result that they definitely deserved.”
It was just the third time this year the Sounders had allowed a goal in the final 15 minutes. Seattle upped its unbeaten streak to 38-0-10 when scoring first, the longest active run in the league.
Much of the talk after the game centered on the stormy weather after 90 minutes of driving rain and heavy wind. Seattle’s Jhon Kennedy Hurtado said he couldn’t see the ball at times. Evans lamented passes that got caught up in the air.
Added Gspurning: “It was not nice, to be honest, especially in the end. Everything was soaked.”
The Red Bulls had a different perspective.
“I think this weather was possibly the best thing that could’ve happened to us,” said coach Mike Petke. “Any time you (have) the conditions and environment a bit ugly like this, you’ll take it.”
After a slow start, the Sounders controlled nearly all of the action in the first half with a 10-3 shot advantage, but their first nine couldn’t get by Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles.
The 10th came on a 45th-minute penalty kick after a cross by Evans was blocked in the penalty box by the hand of Holgersson.
Evans finished the chance himself with a sharp drive low and to the left of a diving Robles. The midfielder has converted all seven of his PK attempts for Seattle in regular-season games; his teammates are a combined 5 for 12.
The goal ended the Red Bulls’ shutout streak at 296 minutes, sixth-longest in MLS this season.
“We need to put teams away,” said defender Marc Burch, “but it’s a point and we have to move on.”
• Clint Dempsey (hamstring) and Leo Gonzalez (groin) were inactive for the Sounders after coming in as game-time decisions. Defender Zach Scott served a one-game suspension Sunday after receiving a red card last week against the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @joshuamayers.