Sounders’ defense is one of best in MLS

  • Tue Oct 2nd, 2012 8:57pm
  • Sports

By Don Ruiz The News-Trubune

Seattle defender Jeff Parke had one of the flashiest performances in the Sounders’ scoreless draw at Vancouver on Saturday. But he didn’t think it was one of his best.

“I wasn’t overly ecstatic with my play,” he said Tuesday as the Sounders returned to training. “But I thought the team did a really good job. Except for a couple of chances there, I thought we held them at bay for the better part of the game.”

Parke certainly was involved in two of the most memorable plays — one defending, one attacking.

In the 30th minute, he pulled off a risky sliding tackle in the penalty area, sweeping the ball off the foot of speedy Vancouver forward Darren Mattocks.

“Sometimes it just happens in the flow of the game,” Parke said. “You get your breaks. If you work hard, you’re going to get more breaks than if you’re taking plays off or you’re trying to cheat plays.”

In the 79th minute, Parke got his right foot on a cross and redirected the ball on goal, but it was saved off the line by Whitecaps defender Young-Pyo Lee at the near post.

“I knew I didn’t have enough on it,” Parke said. “I knew that their guy was going to tuck in, so the only way I would have maybe been able to sneak it past him was if I put it arm-height — because then he wouldn’t have been able to stick his arm out, or it would have been a PK if he hits it.

“I knew that he was inside, and just when I hit it, I thought, ‘Dang, he’s got it covered.’”

The shutout dropped Seattle’s goals-against average to 1.03, second in the league behind Sporting Kansas City.

“I thought we battled defensively,” coach Sigi Schmid said.” I thought everybody together played defensively well. It starts with our frontrunners as well. I thought (forwards Eddie Johnson and Fredy Montero) helped us out as well. But I thought that the guys at the back (Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez and Adam Johansson) did well. And (midfielder Osvaldo Alonso) is a big part of that effort.

“I thought we did a good job of keeping the ball in front of us, making sure that their speed didn’t become an impact for us early in the game.”

The result also returned goalkeeper Michael Gspurning to the top of Major League Soccer in terms of goals-against average.

Gspurning’s sixth shutout dropped his GAA to 0.79, just ahead of SKC’s Jimmy Nielsen (0.81). Those are the only MLS goalkeepers allowing an average of less than a goal a game (among those with a minimum of 900 minutes played).

The club record goals-against average is 0.92, established by Kasey Keller in the 2009 expansion season.

Added time

Ticket sales have topped 66,000 for Sunday’s 6 p.m. home match against Portland. The Sounders’ single-game attendance record for an MLS match is 64,140, set last season against San Jose for Keller’s final regular-season home appearance. … While the team is in generally good health, Schmid said several players have been fighting stomach viruses since the trip to Honduras last month for CONCACAF Champions League. Alonso was held out of training Tuesday. “Ozzie seemed to have something different,” Schmid said. “It was like a muscle strain, but we weren’t quite sure. … We figured we’d give him a little time to get over it. … Sounders midfielder Servando Carrasco was named MLS Humanitarian of the Month for his work on breast-cancer awareness. … Former Sounders forward O’Brian White was a visitor at training Tuesday. White’s career was derailed due to a series of blood clots in his left leg. The club bought out his contract just before the start of this season.