SEATTLE — Osvaldo Alonso understood it was an exhibition. It was also a match the Seattle Sounders wanted to win.
Alonso beat former U.S. national team goalkeeper Brad Friedel from 30 yards early in the second half as the Sounders tied Tottenham 3-3 in an exhibition Saturday, the first match for new Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino.
“Every friendly is different,” Alonso said. “This year we tried to win the game. … We tried to win this game like it was the MLS regular season. I’m very happy for the team.”
Through half the season, Seattle’s been the class of Major League Soccer. And the Sounders held their own against a Tottenham side making its debut under Ponchettino, who left Southampton in May to replace the fired Tim Sherwood. Sherwood had taken over on Dec. 23 after Andre Villas-Boas was fired.
Tottenham began its preseason North America tour facing former striker Clint Dempsey and his new club. Dempsey left Tottenham to sign with the Sounders last August. Tottenham has two more stops on its tour against Toronto and Chicago before returning to Europe to complete its preseason. Spurs open its Premier League season on Aug. 16 at West Ham.
“I want to congratulate our players because the conditions to play were very difficult — 1 p.m. and warm and a different field,” Ponchettino said. “And we play a very good team.”
Alonso’s goal off a loose ball zipped past Friedel and hit the underside of the crossbar before bouncing in the net. The goal gave Seattle a 2-1 lead, but Roberto Soldado converted a penalty kick in the 55th after he was fouled in the penalty area.
Tristan Bowen put the Sounders ahead 3-2 in the 79th minute when he tapped in a cross from Sean Okoli, but U.S. national team defender DeAndre Yedlin was called for a handball in the penalty area moments later and Yago Falque converted the penalty kick.
The match, played before 55,349, was easily Seattle’s most even exhibition against Premier League opposition. Seattle lost 2-0 and 4-2 to Chelsea in 2009 and 2012 and was routed 7-0 by Manchester United in 2011.
“When we come on these tours we sometimes don’t know what to expect,” Friedel said. “One thing was for certain when we knew we were going to expect a good atmosphere and playing against the best team in the MLS right now.”
This time, the Sounders had the better of the opportunities and could have come away with a victory had they converted chances in the first half. The Sounders outshot Tottenham 12-5 in the first 45 minutes thanks to Dempsey and Obafemi Martins causing problems for Spurs’ defense. Dempsey missed wide on an open header and later had a ball headed for the net cleared off the line by Tottenham’s Danny Rose.
“I thought we had opportunities we need to finish more of and could have been leading at halftime,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said.
Lewis Holtby scored on a header in the 11th minute off a pass from Harry Kane. Gonzalo Pineda’s chipped penalty kick beat Friedel in the 33rd minute to pull Seattle even after defender Chad Marshall was taken down in the penalty area on a corner kick.
Tottenham played without goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, midfielders Paulinho, Mousa Dembele and Nacer Chadli, and defender Jan Vertonghen, who have been given a break after the World Cup. Gylfi Sigurdsson was scratched from the starting lineup shortly before kickoff.
“We’ve been working extremely hard. Preseason has been very demanding under the new boss and I think that showed,” Friedel said.