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Sunday, August 12, 2012 - Page updated at 11:00 p.m.
Late drama, dejecting loss for Sounders FC
By Richard J. Marcus
Special to The Seattle Times
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — In a wild ending that had each team scoring a goal in stoppage time in a critical late-season Western Conference showdown, the visiting third-place Sounders FC scored an equalizing goal in the 92nd minute but gave up the winning goal in the 93rd and final minute to lose 2-1 to the first-place Earthquakes on Saturday night to fall further behind San Jose in the standings.
The winning goal for San Jose (14-5-5, 47 points) was an 8-yard header in the center of the field by San Jose's Steven Lenhart in the 93rd minute off a corner kick by Shea Salinas. The game ended approximately half a minute after the goal.
"It's inexcusable to give up that goal late," Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said. "You can't give him (Lenhart) a free path to run 3 or 4 yards up to the ball because he is a big guy and runs well and hits well and we paid the price for it."
The loss cemented one of the tougher four days in Sounders history. On Wednesday, Seattle (10-6-7, 37 points) lost to Sporting Kansas City on penalty kicks in the U.S. Open Cup final, ending the Sounders' streak of consecutive Open Cup titles at three.
Saturday night was another big disappointment for the Sounders, who thought they had earned a draw only to lose again in heartbreaking fashion.
"I have no words for what happened this week. It's not normal," Seattle goalkeeper Michael Gspurning said. "We had two targets (U.S. Open title and a win over San Jose), and we didn't reach both."
Played at small but sold out (10,744 in attendance) and spirited Buck Shaw Stadium, both had scoring opportunities throughout the game but it was the Earthquakes who cashed in twice late.
"To lose in the last minute on a corner kick is terrible, but it can happen; that's football," recently acquired Seattle midfielder Christian Tiffert said. "It was a good header from the San Jose player."
Seattle had tied the score 1-1 in the 92nd minute on a ricochet shot by Fredy Montero from 4 yards out.
"I'm proud of what we did and proud of our ability to come back," Schmid said.
In the 71st minute, San Jose midfielder Simon Dawkins converted on a nifty 15-yard turnaround shot through traffic that beat the diving Gspurning into the right side of the net.
Not including the U.S. Open loss, Saturday's loss ends a streak of six unbeaten MLS games (three wins and three draws) for Seattle, including the Sounders' 4-0 drubbing of the L.A. Galaxy last Sunday.
The previous meeting between Seattle and San Jose — a 1-0 Seattle victory on June 26 in a U.S. Open quarterfinal — was a rough and tumble affair marked by several skirmishes and punctuated by an ugly scene immediately after the game involving players on the field and the teams' respective benches.
Saturday's game was absent the chippiness and without provocation.
San Jose's Chris Wondolowski, the top MLS scorer with 17 goals, has been a thorn in the side for the Sounders.
"We kept Wondolowski in check the whole game, but then somebody else would step up for them," Schmid said.
Seattle had two point-blank headers in the 58th minute but one hit the crossbar and one was saved by San Jose goalie Jon Busch.
First half — none. Second half — 1, San Jose, Dawkins 4, 71st minute. 2, Seattle FC, Montero 7, 90th+. 3, San Jose, Lenhart 8 (Salinas), 90th+. Goalies — Seattle, Michael Gspurning; San Jose, Jon Busch. Shots — Seattle 12, San Jose 18. Shots on goal — Seattle 3, San Jose 4. Saves — Seattle 3, San Jose 2. Fouls — Seattle 17, San Jose 10. Corner kicks — Seattle 7, San Jose 8. Offsides — Seattle 1, San Jose 2. Yellow cards — Johansson, Seattle, 82nd; Bernandez, San Jose, 15th; Justin Morrow, San Jose, 47th. Referee — Baldomero Toledo. Assistant referees — Mike Kampmeinert. Paul Scott. 4th official — Alejandro Mariscal. A — 10,744 (10,526).
Seattle 0 1 — 1 San Jose 0 2 — 2
Seattle — Michael Gspurning, Adam Johansson, Zach Scott, Jeff Parke, Marc Burch, Andy Rose (Mauro Rosales, 82nd), Brad Evans, Christian Tiffert, Osvaldo Alonso, Alex Caskey (Fredy Montero, 84th), Sammy Ochoa (Eddie Johnson, 68th).
San Jose — Jon Busch, Steven Beitashour, Jason Hernandez, Justin Morrow, Victor Bernardez, Marvin Chavez (Shea Salinas, 87th), Sam Cronin, Rafael Baca, Simon Dawkins, Chris Wondolowski, Steven Lenhart.
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