Short-handed Sounders manage to gain point

McClatchy news servicesMay 5, 2013 

Seattle Sounders FC led and trailed, and finally came away with a 2-2 draw in a wild Major League Soccer match with the Philadelphia Union on Saturday in Chester, Pa.

The Sounders ended the game with nine players on the field, and the Union had 10 after three red cards were flashed in the final five minutes. Sounders defender Leo Gonzalez also apparently got away with a handball in the penalty area in the closing seconds.

The Sounders (1-3-3) pushed their unbeaten streak to three games and extended their unbeaten streak when scoring first to a league-high 34 games.

“We were happy that once we got down 2-1, that we came back and equalized the game,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “I thought we had some chances earlier in the game that we should have done a little more with, and obviously they came back and had chances. It could have been 5-5. It was a pretty open game, a pretty attack-minded game.”

Seattle dominated early and jumped ahead in the 10th minute when Eddie Johnson lost his defender and headed in a Mauro Rosales corner kick from about 7 yards.

“It is good for confidence,” Johnson said. “I missed three games, and at the end of the day, the good goal-scorers, they have rhythm just playing game after game after game. That’s how you get your sharpness and confidence. … We have been playing some good soccer, and I just want to make an impact.”

Philadelphia pulled even in the 50th minute and then ahead in the 51st. In both cases, Danny Cruz got to the rebound of a shot and knocked it in.

The one-two punch set a Sounders record for shortest time between goals allowed.

“It was completely unnecessary for us,” Seattle goalkeeper Michael Gspurning said. “You should be more awake after the first goal and not stay tight. But, yes, I believe the momentum changes, and sometimes the second goal is possible.”

Seattle salvaged the draw in the 64th minute when Rosales knocked in a cross from Gonzalez.

“In the second half, the two early goals, I think we didn’t come with the same concentration as the first half,” Rosales said. “It was a good result — we got points away — (but) it is not what we wanted. We wanted three.”

The Sounders played without would-be starters Obafemi Martins, Steve Zakuani and Shalrie Joseph — all because of injuries — and without Osvaldo Alonso, who missed the game to be with his family after the birth of his second child Friday.

Seattle also finished the game without Lamar Neagle and DeAndre Yedlin, who picked up red cards in the final minutes. Yedlin’s straight red was awarded for a reckless tackle, while Neagle was sent off for a series of shoves and head bumps with Philadelphia’s Sheanon Williams, who also received a red card.

“(The referee) said that we both head-butted each other, which is false,” Williams said. “I asked (Neagle) when we were going off if he thought that I head-butted him, and he said, ‘No.’ He didn’t head-butt me, and that’s the explanation that the referee gave us. If you want to give us a yellow for a shoving match, that’s fine. But to throw us out of a game for something that we both didn’t do, I thought that was just a little unfair.”

Also not around for the end was Union defender Jeff Parke, the former Sounders player (2010-12) who suffered a leg injury just before halftime.

Philadelphia (3-3-3) outshot Seattle, 22-10, and held 56 percent of the possession.

A crowd of 18,344 was announced at PPL Park.

The Sounders travel today to Kansas City, Kan., where they will meet Sporting KC at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. Neagle and Yedlin will be ineligible while serving one-game red-card suspensions. However, Schmid indicated that some of his injured players might be available.

“It is going to be another challenge,” Johnson said. “But at the end of the day, as a player, you want to be challenged.”

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