By Don Ruiz The News Tribune
Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said Vancouver’s Brad Knighton turned in what was probably the best goalkeeping performance Seattle has seen this season in the Whitecaps’ 2-0 win Saturday.
Knighton himself went even further.
“That’s the best game I’ve ever played, by far, hands down,” he said after the match at BC Place.
However, after pausing to praise Knighton, the Sounders also stressed that they should have finished their chances in a way that no goalkeeper could have stopped.
“He did a good job, but we still had way too many chances to not score one goal,” midfielder Lamar Neagle said. “He did well, he had a good game. He came out and pressured us at the right times. But still, I had two chances and I should have both of them.”
Neagle had company. Seattle took 16 shots — matching its season-high — and put seven on target. Obafemi Martins fired six shots, Eddie Johnson took four, Lamar Neagle and Zach Scott added two, and Shalrie Joseph and Brad Evans tried one each.
“We couldn’t have created any more chances,” Evans said. “We had the chances we just didn’t finish them. So bottom line is finish your chances, but also keep it tight in the defense. Two bouncing balls cost us the game.”
Vancouver’s goals came from Kenny Miller in the fourth minute and Darren Mattocks in the 79th.
The result moved Vancouver (8-5-5) into fourth place in the MLS Western Conference race, and dropped Seattle (7-6-3) to seventh. The top five teams in each conference qualify for the playoffs. However, the Sounders have played the fewest games in the Western Conference, and their average of 1.5 points is Schmid’s annual minimum target for playoff qualification.
Seattle returns to league play Saturday at San Jose, which is having problems of its own with a 5-9-6 record. The Earthquakes also will be without reigning Golden Boot winner Chris Wondolowski, who will play for the United States national team Tuesday when it begins CONCACAF Gold Cup in Portland against Belize.
Meanwhile, the Sounders hope to add players by the weekend. Schmid indicated that defensive midfielder Osvaldo Alonso (quad) should be “100 percent ready” by Saturday after being held out at Vancouver. Schmid said he also expects defender DeAndre Yedlin (shoulder) to be in the mix as a starter again after coming off the bench for 11 minutes against the Whitecaps.
No Sounders were included among the 10 players voted by fans into the MLS All-Star Fan XI. The fans’ selections are goalkeeper Raul Fernandez (Dallas), defenders Matt Besler (Kansas City), Aurelien Collin (Kansas City), Omar Gonzalez (Los Angeles); midfielders Brad Davis (Houston), Will Johnson (Portland), Mike Magee (Chicago), Graham Zusi (Kansas City), and forwards Thierry Henry (New York) and Wondolowski. The final All-Star game-day roster will be selected by All-Star coach Peter Vermes of host SKC. The MLS All-Stars will face AS Roma on July 31 at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan. … The Sounders lost 4-0 at Vancouver on Sunday in an MLS Reserve League match. All of the Whitecaps goals came in the second half. The first two were scored on goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann, the next two on Doug Herrick, who came on in the 66th minute.