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Ljungberg's ejection colors a scoreless tie with Chicago

There were more red cards than goals Saturday as Sounders FC played through the first scoreless game in its short history.

And the Sounders left Qwest Field frustrated by both parts of that equation.

“I thought we had enough chances to win the game,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “I thought we went at them early on. I thought we created a lot of things. Overall, I wasn’t displeased. I told the guys at halftime to just keep playing the way we’re playing. … I thought we had more of the game, for sure.”

But don’t even get him started on the banishment of Freddie Ljungberg in the 59th minute, which wiped away Seattle’s brief one-man advantage.

“I’m not going to go into it because I know I’m going to get into trouble if I go into it,” Schmid said before going into it.

“I thought it was an unfortunate decision by the referee,” Schmid said. “I noticed he had a nice halftime chat with (Chicago All-Star Cuauhtemoc) Blanco. He was walking away and Blanco called him back, and he turned around. It was hard for me to get in a word at the end of the game, but he found time for Blanco at halftime. That’s a fact: That’s not me accusing him of anything.”

Five minutes after Chicago’s John Thorrington was sent off for picking up a second yellow card in the 54th minute, Ljungberg was KO’d by a one-two of cautions: the first for a dive in the penalty area, the other for the dissent that followed.

“I complained in the beginning and I hit my chest and then I hear his whistle and blah, blah, blah, and he gives me the red card,” Ljungberg said. “I just have to rise above it, I’m not going to go down to his level and start screaming and complaining about things. But it’s sad: He’s destroying a beautiful game.”

Ljungberg was asked if he regretted not simply walking away, thereby preserving Seattle’s one-man advantage.

“No,” he said. “It’s an important game and he got a lot of things wrong in the game. Even players on the other team were laughing behind his back and saying, ‘He’s on our side today, Freddie.’ It’s not the way a game should be. If I would have just walked away (it would have appeared that) I wouldn’t care to win the game. And that’s not me. I always want for us to do well, and it’s important to do well in this league.”

And when asked to assess their season as it pauses for the Wednesday night All-Star Game, most Sounders said the team is doing well. The Sounders (7-3-8) are unbeaten in their past six games. They are in playoff position. No one in MLS has fewer losses.

They take encouragement from the chances they create. But there is growing frustration at how many they fail to finish.

“I’m pretty pleased with most of what we’ve done,” Schmid said. “The key to the sport is that when you dominate games, you’ve got to score goals; and when you get dominated, not give many goals up. We’re doing a good job of not giving the goals up in the periods of time that we get dominated. But we’re not turning our domination into the goals that we need, and that’s what happened (Saturday).”

The Sounders took more shots than the Fire, 15-11; and they put more of them on goal, 5-2. They kept Blanco in check. Ljungberg, Fredy Montero, Nate Jaqua and Steve Zakuani all had solid scoring chances. Included among then were a shot and rebound by Jaqua, both stopped by Fire keeper Jon Busch, and a Montero rocket that left the goalposts rattling.

“We had a chance, several chances,” Zakuani said. “In the second half, Fredy hit one off the crossbar. I hit one just over the bar. Nate had a good shot. We had chances after chances. We wanted to win the game, but we will take the point. We are still (near) the top of the West. They are a very good team, and we are happy we played well against them.”

Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com

blogs.thenewstribune.com/soccer

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