Seattle picks up a point when it seemed the Sounders would suffer an unfortunate loss to the L.A. Galaxy before 56,097 at CenturyLink Field.
Less than an hour before Sunday’s Sounders-Galaxy match, Seattle forward Chad Barrett was in the CenturyLink Field press box in street clothes, having just polished off a syrupy can of Coca-Cola and about to dig into a plate of lukewarm food.
A few hours later, in the 93rd minute of a game that had turned on a teammate’s mistake, Barrett straddled the fencing that separates the field from the stands, celebrating his stoppage-time goal while a delirious fan enthusiastically patted his rear end.
Barrett, Seattle’s resident folk hero and a last-minute squad addition for an injured teammate, netted the tying goal in the third of five added minutes as the Sounders earned a 1-1 draw with the L.A. Galaxy in front of an announced attendance of 56,097 at CenturyLink.
“I’m a poacher,” Barrett said. “I like being in there. The balls just seem to find me. … You just have to be in the right place at the right time.
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“When you get your moments, you’ve got to step up. And I love the spotlight. I’m 30 now and it might not last too much longer. I’m going to soak it up.”
The whole Sounders (14-13-5) lineup was long in the tooth, even after 28-year-old Lamar Neagle replaced Nelson Valdez, 31 and suffering from a nagging calf strain, in the starting lineup.
The average age of the starting XI was north of 31, and at 29, midfielder Osvaldo Alonso was the only outfield player younger than 30.
Leo Gonzalez, 34, filled in for injured rookie Oniel Fisher at left back. Zach Scott, 35 years young, replaced Chad Marshall at center back – and played an unfortunately leading role in setting up L.A.’s goal.
Early this season, when he was still making the transition from midfield to full-time defense, Seattle captain Brad Evans said it was difficult to turn off the part of his brain that told him to play the ball out of danger.
As a midfielder, Evans could take risks that were unacceptable in the back. Rather than try to take on an opponent, or play a pass to a teammate in close quarters, defenders are sometimes better off blasting the ball out of bounds and hitting reset.
It’s a lesson that teammate Scott was reminded of in a painful way on Sunday.
Midway through a mostly even first half, Scott dribbled a one-touch pass along the edge of his own penalty box in the general direction of teammate Gonzalo Pineda.
Reigning league MVP Robbie Keane, lurking in dangerous areas as always, pounced. Keane beat Pineda to the ball, swooped in alone on stranded goalkeeper Stefan Frei and finished inside the right post.
Scott’s reaction said it all. The veteran hunched over, cupping both hands over a slack-jawed mouth.
“You don’t say anything there,” Evans said. “It’s, ‘Let’s go.’ Pick the ball out of the net and we’ll carry on. … It’s squashed. It’s done. It’s a guy that’s done so much for the club and that bleeds rave green.”
You also try to pick him up, to at least partially shield him from accusatory points and stares. Seattle swarmed around the edges of L.A.’s penalty box throughout the second half, constantly threatening even if they didn’t create all that many clear-cut chances.
Andreas Ivanschitz popped up behind the Galaxy back line but couldn’t settle Marco Pappa’s pass. Barrett bounced a pass across an empty goal but L.A. somehow hacked it off the goal line. Clint Dempsey side-footed a first-touch shot into the roof of the net.
And Barrett crashed onto Evans’ flick-on of Pappa’s corner kick, sending it into the back of the net and CenturyLink into bedlam. Barrett shrugged off his teammates, leapt onto the railing near the corner flag and greeted an adoring public.
“It’s important to get a point, not to walk away with a goose egg,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said. “And it’s important (that) everybody in our locker room knows that we’re a team that can come back.”
|The Sounders are in a battle for one of the final playoff spots out of the MLS’ Western Conference. The top six teams get in.|
|Already clinched playoff spot.|