SEATTLE, Wash.— In front of 36,219 Seattle fans, the Columbus Crew (2-0-2) fought off a determined Sounders FC side (2-2-3) that wondered how they failed to earn three points. The Rave Green held the edge 16-7 in total shots. Unfortunately, only three of those were on target, the same number as the Crew.
Seattle midfielder Steve Zakuani scored in the first five minutes and Columbus’ Steve Lenhart responded with his first goal of the year forty minutes later. Despite Seattle dominating play in the second half, Columbus had their own opportunity to win all three points. The match ended with an apparent Seattle goal that was waved off by the referee.
The Sounders took the lead in the fourth minute of play on Zakuani’s third goal of the season, which set a club record for the earliest goal in franchise history. The former University of Akron player beat the offside trap and ended up one-on-one against Columbus ‘keeper William Hesmer. Zakuani dribbled to his right and found the open net to give Seattle the 1-0 lead.
Seattle dominated play throughout the first half and should have doubled the score on several occasions. In the 37th and 40th minute of the match, defensive midfielder Osvaldo Alonso hit two crackers from outside the box. His second rocket had Hesmer beat and barely missed the left post.
In extra time, Columbus evened the score with a nifty header by forward Steven Lenhart. Defender Danny O’Rourke lofted a cross from the left corner flag that found the former NAIA All-American on the receiving end of a free header to tie the match 1-1.
Seattle attempted to replicate their early scoring in the 52nd minute. With Freddie Ljungberg maneuvering towards the top of the circle, Montero picked up the ball from the Swede’s feet and hit a strike that deflected off Columbus defender Andy Rio. The crowd groaned in unison as his strike hit the right post.
After a series of passes from Ljungberg to Riley to Montero, the Crew defense broke up the finishing pass to the Colombian in the 62nd minute for a Seattle corner. The Swede’s outswinger from the right corner flag sailed into the eight yard box. Defender Patrick Ianni rose to hit a header that just sailed over the crossbar.
Five minutes later, on an overlapping play from defender Leo Gonzalez, Ljungberg volleyed a strike that struck the right post, bounced off ‘keeper Hesmer, and across the endline to keep the score tied.
Columbus attempted to take the lead in the 73rd minute with midfielder Robbie Rogers passing the ball to his right to forward Guillermo Barros Schelotto. The Argentinean struck a hard right footer that required Seattle ‘keeper Kasey Keller to raise his hands to prevent the go-ahead goal for the visitors.
With five minutes remaining in regulation time, Columbus went a man down after O’Rourke’s late sliding tackle from behind on Riley. Referee Ricardo Salazar pulled out a yellow, the second in the match for O’Rourke, which earned him a long walk back to the locker room to end his evening. After the match, the Columbus defender still felt his ejection was unjustified.
On the subsequent free kick, Ljungberg passed the ball to Alsonso. He used his right foot to send a hard shot that hugged the ground. The ball bounced off Montero and went wide left.
In the last minute of extra time, Sanna Nyassi tangled with Columbus defender Andy Iro, who fell to the pitch. Montero ended up with the ball and shot it into the net, sending the Seattle crowd into delirium. Referee Salazar saw it differently. He called a foul on Nyassi and waved off the goal to the loud boos of the partisan Seattle crowd.
Next week, Seattle hosts the L.A. Galaxy, who continue to be without the services of David Beckham, who is still recovering from leg surgery. Columbus returns home to play the New England Revolution on Saturday.
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