Over 64,000 fans came to CenturyLink Field on Saturday night (October 15) to honor the last regular season home game for retiring Sounders goalkeeper and local boy Kasey Keller.
Keller did his very best to make it memorable. Keller made saves with every body part and apart from a Chris Wondolowski goal for San Jose in the 24th minute, Keller was more than good enough to make up for a very flat, very sloppy Sounders team.
The Sounders defense, in particular, was not playing well at all. Wondolowski’s goal, for example, came from a perfectly placed pass by San Jose teammate Rafael Baca, which came as a result of a horrible pass by Sounders defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado.
Keller fought back, making seven saves including a set of three in the 65th minute when San Jose pounced on a bad pass by Patrick Ianni. Keller charged forward, racing Khari Stephenson to the ball. Wondolowski snagged the loose ball and unleashed a rocket from the left side, forcing Keller to make a diving save. Simon Dawkins got the rebound but Keller rejected the follow up and Seattle finally cleared their line to relieve the pressure.
Manager Sigi Schmid went to his bench in the 64th minute, bringing on midfielder Mauro Rosales. Rosales has been a find for the Sounders but has been out since suffering a sprained MCL against D.C. United on Sept. 17.
Rosales paid off in the 82nd minute when he found fellow substitute Sammy Ochoa with a long through pass. Ochoa, a summer pick up beat Earthquakes goalkeeper Jon Busch by using the right post as a backboard. The score was his first goal since joining the Sounders.
He picked the best possible time to get his first, breathing life into the moribund Sounders and igniting the crowd looking to celebrate.
Five minutes later, with the stands still shaking, most were expecting the match to end in a draw. Fredy Montero had other ideas when Lamar Neagle found him open in front of the goal.
Montero beat Busch easily for his 12th goal of the season, sending the fans into a frenzy and Keller out on a high note.
My “Man of the Match” is Kasey Keller, of course. How could it be any different? The arguments could be made for Montero or Rosales because both players were key to Seattle’s comeback, but this night was for Keller.
The celebrations seem a little premature to me. It’s not over yet though as Seattle travels to Los Angeles to close out the season against Chivas USA next Saturday, 10/22. Then it’s on to the playoffs, hopefully for a long time.
So don’t pack up those keeper gloves just yet, Kasey. This ain’t over yet.
Photo credits: TED S. WARREN / AP