D.C. United, the team with the worst record in the league, beat Seattle 3-2 — keeping Sounders FC under .500 entering a two-week break.
Forlorn and defeated, Sounders FC goalkeeper Kasey Keller sat solemnly in his locker after a shocking 3-2 loss to D.C. United.
It was the second time in six MLS games that he’d given up a substandard goal and doubts had entered the 40-year-old’s mind.
“I said my whole career that once I feel I can’t do the job then I have to stop doing the job,” Keller said. “I wanted to play another year, but not if I don’t play to the level that I expect of myself and the level that the players and the fans and the coaching staff expect of me.”
The soul searching from Seattle’s captain was just another low point in what has been a tremendously disappointing 4-6-3 start for the second-year club. The loss will now linger into a leaguewide, two-week break for the FIFA World Cup.
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The script had seemingly been set up perfectly Thursday night for the Sounders to forget its mediocre start. Coming off a dominating win against New England last week, they were hosting the team with the worst record in MLS.
Momentum and 36,146 screaming fans weren’t enough, however, as a hat trick by Chris Pontius gave D.C. the unforeseen win despite a late push from the Sounders.
“We got beat by Chris Pontius,” said Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid matter-of-factly.
Down 3-0 late in the game, Seattle rallied with two goals. Defender James Riley scored on a deflected shot in the 90th minute and Fredy Montero added a headed goal one minute into stoppage time — the two goals were the quickest back-to-back scores in team history, but it wasn’t enough.
Neither were the franchise-best 20 shots.
The Sounders head into the layoff with a significant, but not impossible, amount of work to do to get back into the playoff mix. A win would have given them a .500 record and sole possession of fourth place in the Western Conference.
“At this point, with the World Cup break, we need to focus on the points in front of us, not what points we’ve missed,” Schmid said.
After an even start to the match, Seattle took control of the first half behind the efforts of Freddie Ljungberg on the right wing.
Then, like it has all season, disaster struck from out of nowhere.
D.C. (3-8-1) grabbed a 1-0 lead against the run of play in the 39th minute when Pontius collected a poor clearance by Seattle and fired a 20-yard shot that took a wild deflection off a Sounders defender past the wrong-footed Keller into the net.
The deficit worsened five minutes later when Pontius fired a shot right at Keller, but through his gloves and slowly into the net despite a second diving attempt to clear it off the line.
“You don’t expect Kasey to let that one through,” said Schmid.
It was an effort that has made Keller rethink his intentions of sticking with the Sounders for the 2011 season.
But his teammates were there in support.
“Sometimes when things are not going you’re way, you step back and analyze some things, sure,” said defender Tyrone Marshall. “But he’s a solid keeper and it’s unfortunate that that ball went past him. Nine out of 10 times he grabs it.”
Pontius added his third with a lofted header to the far post in the 79th minute for D.C., which came into the game 0-4 on the road and either last or tied for last in MLS in point standings (7), goals scored (7) and goals allowed (20).
Help might be on its way, however. After the break, Seattle expects to get Nate Jaqua, Peter Vagenas and Osvaldo Alonso back from injury. Swiss forward Blaise Nkufo will join the team shortly after his national team is finished in the World Cup.
• Stephen King, who the Sounders FC traded in April to D.C. for a future second-round pick, started and played all 90 minutes against his former team.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org
United 3, Sounders FC 2
|D.C. United||2 1 — 3|
|Seattle Sounders FC||0 2 — 2|
First half — 1, D.C. United, Pontius 1, 39th minute. 2, D.C. United, Pontius 2, 44th. Second half — 3, D.C. United, Pontius 3 (Quaranta), 79th. 4, Seattle, Rice (own goal), 90th. 5, Seattle, Montero 5 (Ljungberg), 90th+. Goalies — D.C. United, Troy Perkins; Seattle, Kasey Keller. Shots — Seattle 20, D.C. 6. Shots on goal — Seattle 8, D.C. 5. Saves — D.C. 6, Seattle 2. Fouls — Seattle 11, D.C. 11. Corners — D.C. 7, Seattle 1. Offsides — D.C. 4, Seattle 3. Yellow cards — Pontius, D.C. United, 24th; Ljungberg, Seattle FC, 43rd. Referee — Michael Kennedy.
D.C. United — Troy Perkins, Julius James, Jordan Graye (Barry Rice, 49th), Dejan Jakovic, Devon McTavish, Andy Najar, Stephen King, Clyde Simms, Luciano Emilio (Adam Cristman, 62nd), Chris Pontius (Jaime Moreno, 81st), Santino Quaranta.
Seattle FC — Kasey Keller, Tyrone Marshall, Patrick Ianni (Nathan Sturgis, 64th), Leo Gonzalez, James Riley, Jeff Parke, Freddie Ljungberg, Steve Zakuani (Sanna Nyassi, 66th), Brad Evans, Fredy Montero, Pat Noonan (Roger Levesque, 75th).