BY ADAM SERRANO
CARSON, CALIF – The red hot Seattle Sounders were cooled off — if only slightly — playing to a scoreless draw against Chivas USA at the Home Depot Center on Saturday night.
It was a physical match that ended with both teams finishing with ten men after red cards were issued to Mariano Trujillo and Leo Gonzalez after a scuffle between the two deep into stoppage time. Chances were few and far between for both sides in the stalemate, with both failing to capitalize on their opportunities. After the match, Chivas USA head coach Martin Vasquez admitted that by failing to win, the rest of the season will be even more of an uphill climb for his Rojiblancos as they dream of a playoff berth.
"I'm not happy with this result because we need the points especially at home," said Vasquez. "We need to be looking to win every game especially because the other teams in the Western Conference are getting results."
The Sounders were the aggressors throughout the match and had a number of quality chances in the second half including a Sanna Nyassi header that bounced off the right post. However, the best chance of the match came in the 88th Minute when a shot from distance by midfielder Osvaldo Alonso forced Chivas USA goalkeeper Zach Thornton to make a finger tip save to keep the score level.
Seattle has experienced a resurgence since the World Cup break and with the draw, extended their recent unbeaten streak to nine games n all competitions, but are now 0-2-1 all time against the Rojiblancos at Home Depot Center. One streak did end for the Rave Green and that was Fredy Montero's scoring streak of nine matches.
The Colombian struggled to be effective after a collision with Thornton in the 38th minute that led to a six minute delay in the match. Montero spent much of the delay on the pitch receiving treatment and after resuming play, Seattle's quicksilver was noticeably limited and largely ineffective in the second half until he was removed in the 86th minute.
"He had a little bit of a contusion on his thigh, but he was also, maybe a little bit not clear-headed," said Schmid. "So I think Fredy in the second half was not as effective as he was in the first. We ended up taking him out, but maybe we should've done that a little sooner."
With only a point at home as Chivas USA look to pull themselves from the cellar of the Western Conference, there were few bright spots. However, Saturday's match was memorable as it was the debut of forward Alan Gordon who started his first game for Chivas USA. A long time member of the Rojiblancos' arch rival, the Los Angeles Galaxy, Gordon went 79 minutes and had the best chance of the night for Chivas. In the 58th minute of the match, Paulo Nagamura played a ball to Gordon that went through the goalmouth, but the striker was unable to connect as it fell to Giancarlo Maldonado, whose rebound was saved by Kasey Keller.
As both teams continued to misfire, frustration grew and in the 94th minute, while jostling for the ball, Chivas captain Trujillo and Sounders defender Gonzalez tangled which led to the Chivas USA captain throwing an elbow at the Costa Rican. In the ensuing scrum, both were sent off. While the moment may have been one of many physical moments in the match, Seattle defender Jeff Parke had a different take on what occurred.
"It looked like two girls smacking each other," said Parke. "I don't think Leo really got too bad into it. I think it was definitely a red on that guy's part and maybe a yellow on Leo, but it was pretty funny looking from my vantage point."
Sigi Schmid's men will now look towards a pair of CONCACAF Champions League matches, the first in Honduras against Marathon before taking on Monterrey a week later at Qwest field. The work gets even more difficult for Chivas USA next week as they travel to Pizza Hut Park to take an FC Dallas club currently riding a ten game unbeaten streak.