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Sounders send Keller off in style with comeback win in front of record crowd



Kasey Keller won't turn 42 years old until next month, but what a gift he was given by his Seatlle Sounders Saturday night. 

Make that a few gifts.

On what Washington state government officials proclaimed "Kasey Keller Day" around the state in recognition of the veteran goalkeeper's final regular-season home match as a Sounder, Keller made seven saves and watched from between the pipes as his teammates rallied from a one-goal deficit through 81 minutes for a wild 2-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes at CenturyLink Field. 

Gift No. 1 was the Sounders getting it done for Keller, with Sammy Ochoa and Fredy Montero scoring goals to win for their captain. The other presents were in honor of a 23-season professional soccer playing career that officlally comes to an end in the weeks that follow — a pair of bronzed keeper gloves, a recreational vehicle driven onto the pitch by co-owner Drew Carey and a motorcycle.

Keller, who will finish his playing days with the final three seasons spent about an hour from the town where he grew up, Olympia, Wash., went out with a top performance of his own with a season high for saves. Four came in the span of seconds during the 65th minute, when Keller stopped a shot and three subsequent rebounds after it to send the crowd into euphoria.

The fiery former U.S. national teamer who gained international fame with his play in Europe admitted he was nervous before the match.

"This was the most nervous I've been for a game since the World Cup because I just didn't want to disappoint," Keller said. I"'m just humbled. I'm humbled not just for what the club has done for me and given me the opportunity to come home and finish my career back home, (it) is something that is just so incredibly special."

The Sounders (17-7-9) are gearing up for the playoffs. The Earthquakes have long since been eliminated, but put up quite a fight nonetheless in a match that featured three skirmishes between players on both teams.

In the 10th minute, Chris Wondolowski got off a shot from right of the goal and that hit the side of the net. Nine minutes later, Keller stopped a long shot from Khary Stephenson.

Wondolowski kept up his chase for the league's Golden Boot award with his goal in the 24th minute, the shot beating Keller off a pass from Rafael Baca. It was Wondo's 15th goal of the season. 

The Sounders were still scoreless when Montero's header went wide in the 79th minute, but it was a precursor of good things for Seattle. In the 82nd minute, sub Mauro Rosales, playing for the first time since a sprained knee forced him out of the past three regular-season matches, found Ochoa on a run to the goal. Ochoa put it away for his first career MLS goal.

The Sounders have been the MLS kings of comeback all season long, and Saturday was more of that. In the 87th minute, Lamar Neagle drew defenders to him and got a short pass to Montero, who managed to stay onside. Montero beat Quakes goalkeeper Jon Busch far post, and the Sounders made it stand. 

After the match, the Sounders took to a stage for their traditional thank-you to the fans — the attendance was the third-largest for a match in MLS history — and honored Keller and his family at the same time.

"Games like tonight just grip you," Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. "It was pure ecstasy and knowing that we were able to fight back and come back again and that our character and our resiliency was still there just made me elated."


  1. @ Mike – you’re quite wrong. Players change teams all the time and it’s not a sign that they aren’t any good. Howard washed out at Man Utd – guess that means he sucks, right?

    Keller and Friedel were both great in their day. Keller did it for the USMNT as well, a lot longer than Friedel did for that matter. Keller has been called (by Bruce Arena) one of the top 3 American GK ever, which seems fair. Sorry if you don’t like it.

  2. Keller was the FIRST American soccer player to get a work-visa in England for the Premier League. his performance for the Nat’s against Brazil (1999) is considered one of the great performances by a keeper, EVER, not just for the USA. played in 4 world cups, holds the MLS record for consecutive-shut-out-minutes to start a career and season…

    i’m sorry, but what exactly do you need him to do to be a legend?

  3. all Seattle haters have now is to complain about the field turf. listen, ALL sounders fans want the team to play on grass too. but what most people don’t know is how incredibly difficult it is to grow grass in seattle in the fall already, let along having a grass pitch that both a football and soccer team play on. drive around a seattle neighborhood in mid-october and you will see brown ground and green trees. so if you hate the turf, what are you doing about it? are you trying to invent a new grass that can stand up to the wear and tear? oh, you’re not? you’re lazy? you’re not smart enough? either help solve the problem or quit bitching about it.


  4. And they say Sounders fans are insufferable. This schtick about plastic surface is getting old. Everyone agrees that all MLS teams should play on grass, but that is not practical everywhere.

  5. Much of that was by choice. Not everyone wants to be a Stevie C. and stay in one city for 12+ years. And he certainly paved the way for Friedel to move to Europe at all…

    Did you not see the Brazil or Italy games?

  6. I’m not sure about Keller being a “legend”. The guy bounced around clubs allover Europe, and never topped brad friedel.

  7. I was there last night, beautiful night. It would had made it more special if they would had retire his number. Sure #1 or retiring that number is hard but they could had made up a number and show the banner. Other than that it was a beautiful and magical night!

  8. we get it, the pitch isnt great. that is said in literally every post about sounders, get over it. so unoriginal when that is the only thing haters can come up with. it certainly wont change next year when UW has to play there for football.

  9. So 64k+ show up for a match that practically plays out to a Hollywood script for an American legend, and you think the primary concern here is the field turf?

  10. One of the greatest games I have ever been to…and I have been to a LOT of Sounder’s games.

    I wonder if Ianni doesn’t make the bad back pass where Keller showed why he was a legend….Do the Sounders still win ?

    The crowd went insane from that moment on.

    So much, I will never forget that game.

  11. The trouble (with MSP) is, MLS already has WAAAAY too many clubs based within a few hours’ drive of the freakin’ North Pole! Seriously, at the rate MLS is going, I’m starting to think it’s just a matter of time before Anchorage Eskimos FC joins the league! Garber and the owners being how they are, all that would be required is (a) some billionaire who’s willing to lie with his hand on a Bible about how he’s “committed to the league” (hey, it worked like a charm for Stan Kroenke!) and (b) a firm stadium plan. It’s like catnip for these guys!

  12. The whole defense last night was off for Seattle. Hurtado made a bad give away and Ianni was out of position, which led to Wondo’s goal. Neagle had a remarkable number of mistouches that resulted in passes out of bounds or to the other team. San Jose was clearly the better team the majority of the match, as Seattle was struggling to hold on.

  13. Great crowd, great finish, 4 fantastic Keller saves in Hollywood ending. Sigi has good news and bad news, Rosales is back, but Ianni and Evans continue their bad form. Evans frequently left Alonso alone to defend two to three San Jose mids, while Ianni stranded Keller on the four saves.

  14. Atlanta or Minneapolis. CLB is not “major league” in any sense. MSP is similar in a lot of ways to Seattle. NASL heritage, liberal bent, etc. I could see an MLS franchise doing well there.

  15. I could not care less about the playing surface. 64K+ people attended a Sounders game. Against the freaking earthquakes. Last night was everything I hoped this league could be. If every other MLS could only match that.

  16. Move the Crew to Atlanta.

    (to be fair I’m saying this as a fan of the Crew and resident of Atlanta)

    The move would make sense and $$$ for the Don/League.

  17. LSP is, however, smack dab in the middle of Kansas/Missouri and incredibly easy to get to given it’s location to major highways.

    Can’t say the same for a majority of the stadiums that closed their eyes and pointed to a remote location 800 miles from residential areas.

  18. Love that Seattle can get 64,000+ to attend a match. Hate that their pitch looks like ground up artificial Christmas trees.

  19. Agreed, I lived in Columbus and it’s a terrible sports city outside of Ohio State football… Their NHL team had only 8,500 people at it’s third game and will almost certainly be gone within a few years as well….

  20. Move Columbus now. Horrible frnachise.

    In the playoffs with no attendance.

    Dallas would be a better franchise if their stadium were IN The city instead of 5 hours away.

  21. From a RSL fan, what a classy guy, playing for a good team, in a great soccer city… a great soccer state. Good for Keller and Good for the Sounders. Hope this shows futur American greats that, yeah Europe has the best leagues (for now), but there is no place like home.

  22. Although I totally agree with you that every MLS team, current and future, should strive to one day play in their own downtown stadium, there’s a slight problem here…

    Livestrong is NOT a downtown stadium!
    Also, MLS wants soccer-specific stadiums and the Sounders do not have one!

    But overall, yeah.

  23. Well deserved for Keller, he has done a lot for soccer in this country, and he certainly did not disappoint in his big moment tonight.

  24. watching those highlights was so epic. Really shows the potential that MLS has. Same with the KC-NYRB game earlier, the atmosphere at Livestrong was just as good as any mid level EPL team.


    That Dynamo stadium next year is gonna be dooope…and they already have decent attendance numbers as is….now if they could just start playing a little more, um, dynamic…lol


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