FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — One day before New England Revolution forward Kei Kamara and rookie Sounders defender Tony Alfaro met on the field to swap jerseys, the two former Cal State Dominguez Hills players caught up at a local Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt shop.
“I’ve learned a lot from him,” Alfaro said of the 11-year veteran. “I see where he’s been and how far he’s come.”
On Saturday night, during Seattle’s 2-1 loss to the Revs at Gillette Stadium, Alfaro got to make his professional debut against his role model. Alfaro was a surprise first-half substitute in less-than-ideal circumstances as a replacement for captain Brad Evans, who suffered a head injury after getting drilled by a Kamara shot at close range.
“I thought he did well for a young kid getting thrown into his first MLS experience and thrown in without a real warmup,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said of Alfaro. “I thought he was pretty solid and pretty consistent. You can obviously see that he’s very comfortable with the ball. He’s a good passer and I thought his defending was good.”
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Alfaro, the 27th overall pick in the 2016 SuperDraft, played a mostly quiet 50 minutes on Saturday night in Foxborough — which should be considered a positive, all things considered.
“(Kamara) mentioned it to me yesterday: ‘If anything happens, we’re exchanging jerseys,’” Alfaro said. “… He just said, ‘Congratulations. You played well. Keep it up and keep working hard.”
– Schmid used part of his post-match press conference to advocate for instant replay on controversial red cards and penalty kicks. New England tied up Saturday’s match on a disputed handball call in the Sounders box on Erik Friberg.
“I was told by the fourth official that they’re not even allowed to look at it at halftime, which is amazing to me,” Schmid said. “It seems like you would want to look at it and see if you made a mistake or didn’t make a mistake. Apparently that’s the way it’s being done right now.
“I think penalty kicks and red cards – there’s always a stoppage in play. It takes time before the penalty kick is taken. It takes time before a player gets off the field after a red card. Those situations can easily be reviewed by having a monitor. You’ve already got a fourth official. He’s already got an earpiece.
“That needs to happen in our sport. Too often, games are decided by bad calls.”
– Schmid did not offer much of an update on Evans afterward, sticking to the official team explanation of unspecified “head injury.” He did, however, say that injured defender Chad Marshall could make his return on Wednesday at D.C. United.
Marshall missed his second consecutive match with a right hamstring strain, and if he makes it three, Seattle will likely be without both of its first-choice center backs.