Despite a controversial call that tried to suck the fun out of a game geared toward fan entertainment, Sounders FC and visiting Scottish club Celtic FC managed to create an exciting product Sunday at Qwest Field.

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Despite a controversial call that tried to suck the fun out of a game geared toward fan entertainment, Sounders FC and Celtic FC managed to create an exciting product Sunday in an international friendly, a 2-1 win for the visiting Scottish club.

The crucial moment came in the 30th minute of a scoreless game, when Celtic’s Georgios Samaras broke in behind the Seattle defense. As he approached the goal, the lanky midfielder was knocked to the ground by a challenge from goalkeeper Terry Boss, but Samaras managed to kick the ball into the empty net from his backside for an apparent goal.

Enter referee Paul Ward.

He began by disallowing the goal due to a premature whistle; then he awarded a penalty kick to Celtic; and finally he issued Boss a red card — all decisions he defended by the letter of the law, but seemed unnecessary and excessive in an exhibition match.

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“It still ended up being a decent game; it could have been a good game,” said Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid. “Sort of like, what’s that book? ‘A Good Walk Spoiled.’ It was a good game spoiled by, I thought, a poor decision.”

Schmid, who gave Ward an earful at halftime, thought the Qwest Field crowd of 45,631 was the victim of the call. Celtic coach Neil Lennon also thought the decision wasn’t needed.

“I thought the referee should’ve just let the goal stand as it was and common sense prevails, you know?” said Lennon, who played for Celtic in Seattle friendlies in 2003 and 2004.

Samaras, who played for Greece in the FIFA World Cup, converted the penalty kick past replacement goalkeeper Jordan Jennings in the 32nd minute for a 1-0 lead.

Jennings, who played collegiately at Washington and Seattle University, isn’t under contract with the Sounders but made three saves as an emergency backup.

“The ref made a bad decision and I was forced into action,” said Jennings, who plays for the Tacoma Tide of the USL Premier Development League. “However, that’s my job. I’m supposed to be ready, and I was ready.”

Celtic doubled its lead in the 64th minute, when forward Patrick McCourt took a nice feed from Milan Misun on a counterattack and fired past Jennings to the far post.

Seattle pulled a goal back two minutes later when midfielder David Estrada — who played despite being placed on Major League Soccer injured reserve Thursday with apparent toe and hamstring injuries — fired a shot from distance past goalkeeper Dominic Cervi.

“Sigi asked me to give a spark, so I knew the first opportunity I was going to get, I was going to take it. Fortunately it went in,” said Estrada, who had another shot saved by Cervi off the post in stoppage time.

Despite playing a man down for most of the game, Seattle remained committed to pushing forward and creating an entertaining contest for the home crowd. The Sounders FC faithful also got a first look at Blaise Nkufo, the team’s recently added designated player who started and played a productive 60 minutes.

Celtic, after playing most of its first team in a 3-1 loss to Manchester United Friday in Toronto, fielded mostly youngsters against the Sounders. Seattle wasn’t at full strength either, with starters Kasey Keller (foot), Nate Jaqua (groin), Freddie Ljungberg (ankle) and Michael Seamon (ankle) out.

The Scottish club, which had never won in Seattle in three previous appearances, is now 1-2 on its U.S. tour.


• The starting goalkeepers — Boss for the Sounders and Celtic’s Cervi — were college teammates for a season at Tulsa. Cervi, the lone American on his team, was drafted by Chicago in the 2008 MLS SuperDraft but never signed.

• Seattle’s next MLS game is at 7:30 p.m. Sunday against the Colorado Rapids at Qwest Field.

Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or


Celtic FC 1 1 — 2
Seattle 0 1 — 1

First half — 1, Celtic, Samaras (pk), 32nd minute. Second half — 2, Celtic, McCourt (Nisum), 64th. 3, Seattle, Estrada (Graham), 66th. Goalies — Celtic, Cervi. Seattle, Boss, Jennings. Shots — Celtic 12, Seattle 12. Shots on goal — Celtic 6, Seattle 2. Fouls — Celtic 12, Seattle 11. Offsides — Celtic 5, Seattle 1. Corner kicks — Celtic 6, Seattle 3. Saves — Celtic 1, Seattle 4.

Yellow cards — Mulgrew, Celtic, 84th. Red cards — Boss, Seattle, 29th. Referee — Paul Ward. Assistant referees — Cameron Blair, Mike Rottersman. 4th official — Josh Wilkens. A — 45,631.


Celtic FC — Dominic Cervi, Andreas Hinkel, Paul Caddis (McGowan, 67th), Jos Hooiveld, Milan Misun, Patrick McCourt (Hutchison, 85th), Simon Ferry, Ki Sung Yueng (Crosas, 71st), Cillian Sheridan (Mulgrew, 56th), Georgios Samaras (Forrest, 46th), Morten Rasmussen (Fortune, 56th).

Seattle — Terry Boss, Zach Scott, Tyrone Marshall (Ianni, 74th), Taylor Graham, Tyson Wahl, Sanna Nyassi (Zakuani, 70th), Osvaldo Alonso (Sturgis, 59th), Peter Vagenas (Noonan, 75th), Miguel Montano (Estrada, 64th), Blaise Nkufo (Levesque, 60th), Fredy Montero (Jennings, 32nd).

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