BY Don Ruiz The News Tribune
MONTREAL – The Montreal Impact opened Major League Soccer’s newest stadium Saturday, and that’s where the Seattle Sounders’ 10-game road unbeaten streak went down in flames.
With a crowd of 17,112 looking on at Stade Saputo, the expansion Impact snuffed what had been the longest road streak in MLS, 4-1.
“I’d like to say it’s as simple as one of those nights, maybe a little too much rust that we couldn’t shake off,” defender Zack Scott said. “But it’s frustrating. It’s not indicative of the team we are. To be frank, it’s embarrassing to lose like that.”
It was no surprise that the Impact came out with enthusiasm matching the pregame stadium-dedication ceremonies.
After taking control early, Montreal’s breakthrough came in the 18th minute, when Felipe Martins finished after a solid setup from Patrice Bernier.
“Anytime you open up your stadium you’re going to be motivated and try to play well,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. “Obviously, they did that; they fulfilled their obligations. We didn’t fulfill our obligation of holding strong and battling.”
The Sounders had several chances through the middle portion of the first half, but nothing finished.
Early in the second half, Montreal (4-7-3) made them pay, jumping ahead 2-0 on a goal by Justin Mapp.
“I thought it took us 20 minutes to get into the game,” Schmid said. “By that point we were already down 1-0. Then we got more of the game. We had some chances. We didn’t convert our chances. … I thought we gave away soft goals tonight.”
The hammer came down firmly between the 56th and 58th minutes.
First, Andrew Wegner increased the Impact’s lead to 3-0 on a play that Schmid thought was indicative of the night.
“(Alvaro Fernandez) just lets the guy turn, and Andy Rose doesn’t step and close him down, and then Wenger makes a good run and Meredith gives it away to the near post,” he said. “Those are three mistakes on one play. We’ve got to eliminate that.”
A couple of minutes later, the Sounders found themselves down a man after central defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado was sent off with a straight red card.
Schmid seemed skeptical, especially after watching Nelson Rivas receive only a yellow for a tackle on Fredy Montero in the closing minutes.
“I know that Rivas’ tackle should have been a red card,” Schmid said. “He comes into Montero from behind and that’s a yellow? I don’t know if Hurtado’s tackle was worse.”
Seattle cut it to 3-1 when Eddie Johnson got his fourth goal of the season, assisted by Montero.
The final score was set in the 87th minute, when ex-Sounder Lamar Neagle of Federal Way got a goal against his former team that he said lived up to his every pregame dream.
“Absolutely,” he said. “Finally getting my first goal of the season as well — it’s been a long time coming. … I knew they were down a man, I just came on, and I knew they were going to be tired. I was trying to keep going at them. I got a little lucky, but I’ll take that one for sure.”
The result dropped Seattle (7-4-3) to 0-3-2 over its last five league matches, in addition to ending the road unbeaten streak two short of the MLS record.
“We’re a good road team,” Schmid said. “There’s nothing that happened today that’s going to change my mind on that. But obviously when you give up four goals, that’s an issue. As I told the guys in the locker room: If we can play 1-1 when we’re playing a man down, then certainly we shouldn’t be losing 3-0 when we’re playing even.”
The Sounders fly home today, return to training Monday, and meet Sporting Kansas City at 7 p.m. Wednesday at CenturyLink Field.
Several Sounders took consolation in that.
“I can’t change what we did today,” Montero said. “There is another opportunity Wednesday against Kansas City. Hopefully we can do better. We need to have those three points.”