The Sounders survived two red cards and a yellow in the final five minutes and escaped — barely — with a 2-2 draw with the Philadelphia Union Saturday afternoon at PPL Park. The Sounders, now 1-3-3, 6 points, finished a wild match with nine men on the pitch after shoving matches and over-aggressive tackling saw three players tossed.
In the 85th minute, Seattle’s Lamar Neagle and Philadelphia’s Sheanon Williams received red cards for engaging in a spirited shoving match adjacent to the Union goal. That left both sides with 10 players for the duration. In the 90th minute, Seattle rookie DeAndre Yedlin was also waved off for the soccer equivalent of goonery, leaving the Sounders with nine players.
Prior to getting slapped with back-to-back red cards, the Sounders had not had a player ejected all year.
Less than a minute after Yedlin exited, Eddie Johnson nearly became Seattle’s third red-card victim, but instead received a yellow. The rest of the match was played without incident, and the tie extended to 34 (26-0-8) the number of games Seattle has played without losing after scoring first.
“That was a very intense game, especially at the end,” said Sounders coach Sigi Schmid. “It was a good drama for the fans. But of course. we should defend better around halftime. We had very bad minutes before and after halftime. Then we came back into the game and took a point.
“It was a very tough game for us on defense. We had a really bad start of the second half but at least we came back.”
Sounders were seeking their first back-to-back MLS wins since Aug. 18 and 25, 2012, when they defeated Vancouver 2-0 and Chivas USA 6-2. They got a leg up on their quest when Johnson scored in the 10th minute on an assist from Mauro Rosales. Johnson headed in the goal following a Rosales corner kick. That marked Seattle’s second goal of the season in MLS play.
The Sounders nearly tallied again in the 18th minute when Neagle left-footed a shot just wide of the net.
Philadelphia created several scoring chances after Johnson’s goal, especially in the 32nd minute when Jack McInerney, MLS’s leading scorer, headed a shot off the cross bar.
Leading 1-0 at half, the Sounders unraveled minutes into the second half when Danny Cruz of Philadelphia tallied twice in a one-minute span to give the Union a 2-1 lead. On his first goal, Cruz sent in a rebound on a shot that deflected off the post, ending Seattle’s 285-minute streak of not allowing a goal.
Cruz added another goal in the 51st minute when he blasted home a ball from the edge of the box.
Seattle received the equalizer from Rosales in the 64th minute.
Instead of returning to Seattle, the Sounders will remain on the road. They play Wednesday at Sporting Kansas City in what amounts to a rematch of last year’s U.S. Open Cup final. The Sounders next play at CenturyLink Field Saturday, May 11, against San Jose.
On one hand, the Sounders let themselves get out of control. On the other, the refs did too. Neagle’s red card at best warranted a yellow. I imagine Yedlin’s was the refs trying to bring some order to the match but I do think he was going for the ball but was a step too far away to be successful so it comes across as though he was doing a dirty play.
There needs to be a sense of urgency among the players now. They’re last in the division, have only one win and six points. They can’t keep saying “we haven’t been healthy” or “we haven’t had everyone play together”. Doesn’t matter. They don’t put an asterisk in the win column. This team is much better than where they are in the standings.
Neagle put his hand to Williams’ face, and that’s an automatic ejection (“hard tissue against soft tissue”, according to the referees). Yedlin tackled the player from behind; that’s also an automatic ejection. Both plays should’ve been avoided; the Neagle-Williams incident was off a nothing-doing goal kick, and Yedlin’s foul was in the Philadelphia half of the field.
That said, a road point is a road point, and they have games in hand. If they get a result in Kansas City Wednesday and beat erratic San Jose at home Saturday, they’ll be in decent shape.