League leaders Columbus Crew (12-4-10, 46 points), who last week were the first team to clinch a playoff spot, lost 1-0 to their old coach Sigi Schmid and the expansion Seattle Sounders FC. The loss ended Columbus’ 22-game regular season home unbeaten streak.
Sigi Schmid returned to Columbus for the first time since he became coach of the Sounders. He won the 2008 Supporters' Shield and MLS Cup with the Crew.
The Sounders, who are in a dogfight for a playoff spot in their inaugural season, made most of their scoring chances and used a little luck to earn three crucial points.
Forward Roger Levesque scored his first career MLS goal in the 36th minute for the only score of the match. Levesque started the game because of forward Nate Jaqua’s one game suspension for yellow card accumulations.
Columbus has several opportunities to score and should have tied the game late in the second half. Seattle defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado took down midfielder Eddie Gaven inside the penalty area. The Crew’s Guillermo Barros Schelotto stepped up to take the penalty kick and missed the entire net as his shot went wide of the left post.
Out for the Crew were defender Frankie Hejduk, suspended one game for yellow card accumulations, and central defender Chad Marshall, who remained out with a knee sprain.
Seattle now takes a week off and next plays on October 17 at Kansas City. Columbus is on the road next Saturday at New England.
Columbus had the first opportunity to score in the 15th minute of play. After Seattle midfielder Steve Zakuani lost the ball, Crew midfielder Robbie Rogers crossed the ball to his right to his midfield counterpart Eddie Gaven. His header was high and flew over the net.
Seattle was able to break the Columbus pressure two minutes later when Freddie Ljungberg’s outswinger from the right corner. Zakuani, the former University of Akron player, had the ball on the left side of the six-yard box. He passed the ball to defender Tyrone Marshall. The Jamaican was unable to get a handle on the ball and saw it go off his foot and over the endline.
In the 24th minute Columbus appeared to have scored the first goal of the game. Schelotto headed the ball to Rogers on his left. The U.S. national sent it back to his Argentinean teammate at the top of the 18-yard box. Schelotto used a slick back heel pass to an unmarked Gaven. His hard shot bounced off the right post to keep the game scoreless.
Levesque scored 12 minutes later to give Seattle a 1-0 lead. Ljungberg fought off four Columbus defenders and found an open Brad Evans. He directed his pass to forward Fredy Montero. The pass was too far for the Colombian and ended up in front of Crew ‘keeper William Hesmer. The goalie was unable to control the ball and saw it bounce to Levesque. He sent a soft shot past Hesmer to score his first-ever MLS goal.
In the 45th minute, Marshall and Crew forward Alejandro Moreno tangled just outside the Sounders’ box area. As the two were jostling, Moreno appeared to grab Marshall’s jersey and dropped to the ground. Referee Ricardo Salazar didn’t take any action and play continued.
The Crew started the second half with a scoring chance in the second minute of play. Defender Gino Paluda lofted a high pass to Schelotto from the left side of the box. The Argentinean header went just wide of the right post.
Columbus’ frustration with the officials grew when Gaven was brought down by Hurtado in the 51st minute. In a scramble for the ball, the Seattle defender was jostling for the ball and Gaven hit the deck. Salazar waved off a foul as the Crew players and coaches howled for a penalty kick.
The referee did take action four minutes later when he issued a yellow card to the Crew’s Moreno for a dive. He and defender Leo Gonzalez were both attempting to go for the ball. Moreno made contact with the Costa Rican and Salazar immediately reached into his pocket and issued a caution to the Crew forward.
Columbus felt slighted again in the 62nd minute when defender Danny O’Rourke received a booking to a tackle from behind on Ljungberg at midfield.
In the 70th minute, Marshall cleared a ball headed towards the net that would have given the Crew their first goal of the game. Rogers sent a long cross to Gaven. He headed it towards the goal. With Crew forward Steven Lenhart at the goal line, he redirected the ball to the goal. Marshall, with his back to the pitch, used a deft bicycle kick to clear the ball to safety.
Schelotto sent his corner kick into the box two minutes later. Defensive midfielder Osvaldo Alonso, posted near the post, cleared the ball away.
Alonso nearly scored Seattle’s second goal of the game in the 75th minute. After a poor clearance by Lenhart, Alsonso’s shot from the left side of the box hit the right post. It then bounced off ‘keeper Hesmer’s back and made its way to the other post and deflected over the endline for a Seattle corner kick.
Five minutes later, Schelotto passed the ball back from inside the Seattle box to midfielder Brian Carroll. His low hard shot was stopped by Seattle’s Kasey Keller, who used his hands to block the ball.
In the 81st minute, Hurtado used his body to bring down Gaven from behind. Salazar wasted little time in awarding a penalty kick to Columbus. Schelotto stepped up and hit his shot wide left of the net and over the endline.
Columbus increased the pressure at the end of regulation and in the four additional minutes of extra time. Seattle’s defense managed to make several clearances to earn a hard fought and entertaining win.
John Zielonka, Goal.com
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