The STATE of Soccer in WASHINGTON
SEATTLE – Two late goals from Sammy Ochoa and Fredy Montero provided Sounders FC a dramatic 2-1 comeback victory over the San Jose Earthquakes before 64,140-the third-largest single-game crowd in MLS history-on Saturday night on the at CenturyLink Field. Kasey Keller jump-started the rally with an electrifying sequence of four saves during one San Jose attack.
Goalkeeper Kasey Keller made a season-high seven saves to keep Seattle within reach, and was honored in a postgame tribute following his final home regular season match.
See more photos from Joseph Armand at Facebook.com/goalWA
Sounders FC (17-7-9, 60 points) won for the fourth time in five MLS games and plays its final regular season game at Chivas USA on Saturday. They will enter the MLS Cup Playoffs as the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference.
Keller defelcted praise and focused on the club in his post-match comments. About his match-defining four save sequence, Kasey said:
“I can’t remember that long ago. Like I said, I just hoped I could play today and help the team get a result because I don’t want to see 64,000 people go home disappointed. I want them to go home and say, ‘That was a tremendous experience.’ Take away all the motorcycles and Drew [Carey] driving in on a quad – that was pretty cool, that was worth watching for the attendance and then Zach Scott yelling I should take the other showcase. I’m happy with the showcase I got but this club is something special and like I said I’m just so proud to be a part of it and was able to help with what was the most important thing for tonight, and that was the result. Because, you know, like Sigi has said and Adrian, we still want five more games this season – no, six actually if you count the CONCACAF game. So we’ve got a lot left and there’s no reason that with the resilience that this team has that we can’t have a good time left.”
It was San Jose’s (7-12-14) first loss in the last five games. Chris Wondolowski staked the visitors to a lead in the 24th minute with his 15th goal.
Montero sent the Sounders FC record MLS crowd into a frenzy in the 87th minute. He took a short feed from Lamar Neagle and beat Quakes keeper Jon Busch to the right corner from 12 yards. Brad Evans also assisted on the play. Montero has scored or assisted on a goal in his seven consecutive games, and he tied his team record with 12 goals.
Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid understood the need for a winner. He talked about his response to Montero’s strike. “I mean, I know I was elated. I think everybody else was elated. Certainly, when you look at our sport – I’ve said this – sometimes people say, ‘Soccer, it’s not enough…’ How can you say a game like tonight wasn’t exciting? Games like tonight just grip you. I was definitely elated and I think all of the football fans who showed up… What was it tonight? Like 120,000 people went to watch football but I think a few more came to watch the European version. So we’re happy about that but it was pure ecstasy and knowing that we were able to fight back and come back again and that our character and our resiliency was still there just made me elated.”
Mauro Rosales returned from a three-game absence, coming off the bench in the 64th minute and setting-up Ochoa’s equalizer. In the 82nd minute, Rosales lifted a ball over the top of the San Jose defense and Ochoa ran onto it, shooting past Busch and off the right post. It was Ochoa’s first MLS goal. Rosales leads Seattle with 13 assists.
Sounders FC lead the league in comeback wins. They are now 7-7-3 when allowing the first goal.
Seattle finishes the season with an average of 38,498 fans per game, setting an MLS record for the third year in a row.
San Jose scored in the opening half when Seattle defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado’s clearance was intercepted by Rafael Baca, who quickly fed Wondolowski for a breakaway on Keller. Wondolowski slotted the ball into the left corner, tying him with D.C. United’s Dwayne De Rosario for the most goals in the MLS.
Rosales made his first appearance since he sprained his MCL against the D.C. United on September 17.
Kasey Keller was cheered loudly everytime he touched the ball. In the end it was his save sequence (and the insertion of Mauro Rosales) that revived the Sounders and along with the record crowd urged them on to victory.
After all the hoopla was over, Keller confided that the night had made the 20-year veteran nervous.
“For me, with all of the anticipation for this game and knowing there was going to be a huge crowd, I’m not one who really likes to take focus. I like to just be a team guy and make the team happen. This was the most nervous I’ve been for a game since the World Cup because I just didn’t want to disappoint. I just wanted to be able to come out and help the team win the game today so I’m just so proud of the guys to not quit (and) to keep going. We’ve done it so many times this year that once again, you definitely don’t want to leave this stadium early because we’re going to make things happen at some stage of the game. It might be a little bit late but we’ll make it happen. I’m just proud of the whole franchise. By no way could I have imagined, or Sigi [Schmid], or Adrian [Hanauer], or Joe [Roth], or anybody, that three or four years ago when this thing got rolling that we would be at this stage right now where we are. Huge credit to everybody from obviously the ownership group, the coaching staff works tremendously hard, the players, the fans – they just keep coming out. We have an Open Cup game and 20,000 non-season ticket holders show up on a Tuesday night. I’m just humbled. I’m humbled not just for what the club has done for me and given me the opportunity to come home and finish my career back home in something that is just so incredibly special. You can ask my friends who were able to fly out, guys who’ve played around the world and they just can’t believe it. They just are so proud of what’s going on here in Seattle and I’m just proud to be a small piece of it.”