By Don Ruiz The News Tribune
VANCOUVER, B.C. — The Seattle Sounders survived what coach Sigi Schmid called “a comedy of errors” Saturday, at least well enough to salvage a 2-2 draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps at BC Place.
Seattle scored first on a goal by Chad Barrett and last on a penalty kick by Gonzalo Pineda. But in between were the kind of defensive lapses that show up on blooper reels.
None more so than the goal that put the Whitecaps ahead in the 66th minute, when the Sounders followed a bad play with a horrendous one.
It started when midfielder Marco Pappa cleared at ball backward and across his own goal. No one was there, so goalkeeper Stefan Frei ran out of the penalty area, finally catching up to the ball about a yard from the touchline. There, he kicked it up the pitch, where Vancouver midfielder Gershon Koffie chested it to his feet and lofted a 40-yard shot into the open goal before Frei could get back into position.
“If they beat you, they gotta beat you on something good,” Schmid said. “But that whole sequence was a comedy of errors.”
Frei didn’t deny it.
“As I come out I realize that I’m pretty far out from the goal,” he said. “If I just kick it out then they might do a quick throw in, so the smart thing would have been just to bang it off of the side board and be sure that the ball ends up back on the field so they have to wait. Stupid play on my part; and then it was a good finish. I’m thankful that my guys were there to clean it up.”
That cleanup came in the 81st minute, when reserve Cam Weaver drew a foul in the penalty area. Gonzalo Pineda walked to the penalty spot and there decided on a soft chip behind Vancouver keeper David Ousted.
“The moment that I put the ball there I was thinking, ‘Well, how can I shoot it?’” Pineda said. “So then I said, ‘This is the time.’ He didn’t expect that.”
It turned out to be the final goal in a flowing game that both teams thought they could have won.
The Sounders especially remembered the shot Obafemi Martins put off the post in the 84th minute. Meanwhile, Vancouver regretted getting only two of its 24 shots into the net.
The Whitecaps had started the game like they were shot out of a cannon. Over the first 10 minutes they took eight shots — before the Sounders managed to attempt their first.
However, Seattle was the first to get one to go in. That came in the 36th minute, when Barrett headed in a cross from Kenny Cooper.
“(The Whitecaps) came out wanting it,”Barrett said. “You could tell they were really going. I don’t think I touched the ball for the first 10 minutes. … We came back and were able to score the goal — and then we gave it right back to them. It’s frustrating when we gave up our goals and how we gave up our goals.”
It took Vancouver only three minutes to equalize. Their goal came on the individual brilliance of Erik Hurtado, who lost Osvaldo Alonso on a sharp cut into the box, and then literally faked Djimi Traore and the recovering Alonso off their feet, before finally sending a sharp shot just under the crossbar.
“We’ve got to stay on our feet there,” Schmid said. “So we leave our feet: we actually tackle our own player. So now I think you stay on your feet and you have a better chance of doing well there. And just the timing of it, coming four or five minutes after our goal. That’s something that we have got to be a little more resolute about that.”
The result kept Seattle (8-3-2) atop the MLS standings, while Vancouver (4-2-5) extended its unbeaten streak to five games.
Seattle also went to 0-0-2 in Cascadia Cup play, while the Whitecaps are 0-0-1.