A late own-goal courtesy of Seattle defender Tyrone Marshall gave United an improbable 3-3 draw Wednesday night in Seattle, Washington. United battled back from 3-1 second half defecit to send home a demoralized crowd of 29,104 at Qwest Field. Second half substitute Christian Gomez scored in the 63rd minute to draw United back to within a goal at 3-2 and United pressed forward in the open match and got the equalizer in the 87th minute thanks to Marshall.
Chris Pontius, who scored the games opening goal in the 34th minute, whipped in a cross from the left flank that Santino Quaranta just managed to get a slight touch to. That touch put Marshall in a no-win situation as the ball caromed off his head and past Kasey Keller to stun the sell-out crowd. United has now completed it’s fifth comeback late in the match to salvage a result that seemed very much in doubt considering the overall poor defensive effort from the Black and Red.
United’s defense was torn apart on numerous occasions and if not for the heroic efforts of Josh Wicks in goal, United very well may have lost this game by a large margin. Wicks made point blank saves in the second half on Fredy Montero, Freddie Ljunberg and Sebastian Le Toux to keep United in the match after they were trailing 2-1 at the intermission.
United took the lead against the run of play in the 36th minute when Quaranta sent in a diagonal ball over the defense to the back post where Pontius’ one-time volley shot past Kasey Keller. The lead didn’t last very long though when in the 38th minute Seattle midfielder Osvaldo Alonso uncorked a 30-yard Goal of the Year candidate that Wicks did very well to get a hand to before it blew past him into the upper 90. Seattle fed off the energized crowed and doubled their lead after United were guilty of sloppy defending. Dejan Jakovic won the ball on the left flank and then cheaply gave the ball away to set off the counter that gave Seattle the 2-1 lead in the 45 minute. Jakovic’ casual giveaway led to Nate Jaqua slipping behind United’s defense and his seemingly weak shot was redirected by Marc Burch past the helpless Wicks and Seattle had all the momentum heading into the locker room.
The beginning of second half saw the defensive miscues continue as Jakovic badly mis-played a bouncing ball that allowed Montero in alone on Wicks but the big man came up with the save. It was yet another mind-numbingly bad play by United that got Seattle a 3-1 lead in the 57th minute. Luciano Emilio, showing all the rust of his one-week suspension for a red card, made a horrific backpass right to Fredy Montero who took off towards goal and managed to juke and jive his way into the box and curled a left-footed beauty through a screen of March Burch and into the far side netting.
In spite of their worst defensive effort of the season, United drew on their ability to know that even facing a two-goal deficit, they still had a chance. Gomez got it started when he got onto a loose ball and pushed towards the penalty area and hit a laser that beat Keller low and to his right to pull United back. Seattle coach Sigi Schmid felt relatively comfortable in pulling his three most dangerous attacking players in Montero, Ljunberg and Jaqua and it came back to bite him as United got that late equalizer that no doubt sent the calls of second-guessing towards the coach.
Although United felt very fortunate to get a result from this match, it has to give the team some confidence in going forward on Saturday night against the Colorado Rapids in Commerce, Colorado. United has lost both of their matches at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park and has had a terrible record overall in the Mile High City through their history. The match will be live on ComcastSportsnet at 9:30 pm EST
– As has been mentioned numerous times already by various people, the Seattle Sounders FC experience simply has to be witnessed in person. Television does not do the atmosphere justice and that is only half the story. 1st Avenue in downtown Seattle is about as perfect a soccer experience that one can witness. Driving to the stadium you see countless bars absolutely packed with Seattle supporters in their green X-Box shirts and scarves and the streets flooded with passion and pride. It was an amazing thing to witness.
– Ben Olsen was on the 18- man roster and he’ll probably figure prominently in the match in Colorado on Saturday.