SEATTLE — Saturday’s Major League Soccer season opener for the Seattle Sounders FC was a typical Seattle night — rain, wind, a boisterous crowd and veterans on the pitch ready for battle.
The only thing the Sounders couldn’t add to the night was a victory.
Montreal survived a first-half assault by the Sounders with a 35th minute chip-shot goal by Davy Arnaud to secure a hard-fought 1-0 victory at CenturyLink Field.
There were highs. There were lows. There were shots that hit the woodwork frame of the Impact goal. There was even a few placards flung onto the field from the stands.
All that was missing was a Sounders goal and Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid rued his team’s chances.
“We had bits and pieces in the first half, but I thought we played better in the second half,” Schmid said. “(Brad) Evans had a good chance that hit the post and (Eddie) Johnson had a great chance in front of goal that hit the crossbar. Also, there were scrambles and scrapes there as well. At the end of the day, we can play better.”
The lone marker of the match was against the run of play for the Impact. The Sounders were in control, but a brilliant 1-2-3- counter-attack sequence by Montreal made all the difference.
On the run, forward Marco DiVaio controlled the ball at midfield and triggered the counter. After a few dribbles, he sent the ball off to Felipe Martins, who had two Sounders pressuring him. Martins chipped the ball over them onto the feet of Arnaud.
In the half-circle, the Montreal captain found Seattle goalkeeper Michael Gspurning off his line and chipped the ball over him just under the crossbar for the goal.
“(Montreal) caught us on the counter, getting its goal on the counter and could have had another as well,” Schmid said. “We got caught a bit disorganized and they struck for the goal. Obviously, they forced us to carry the game, which we wanted, but we weren’t as sharp as we needed to be. We know we need to be better.”
Seattle’s first half was all control and circumstance, but no goals to show for it. Veteran forward Johnson, a U.S. National team member, had two chances go just wide against Montreal goalkeeper Troy Perkins in the opening six minutes of the contest.
The only time Montreal found control and pressure of the ball was on the counter-attack and Arnaud’s goal was proof of its prowess in that phase of the game.
Midfielder Mauro Rosales also had chances in the first half, but a 1-0 deficit at halftime was the result.
A first-year player, Seattle native DeAndre Yedlin, made a favorable and fortunate impression on the Sounders in the second half.
In the 50th minute, the 19-year-old defender was in the right place at the right time when he cleared a volley shot by Arnaud with a header off the line. Gspurning was knocked to the turf during the play, leaving Yedlin as the last man standing.
“For a young man making his debut at home, he had a lot of pressure,” Schmid said of Yedlin. “I thought he handled (the pressure) well and had a good game. He played very well in the preseason and we made the choice.”
Johnson and Evans had two great chances to tie the match in the second half, buoyed by Yedlin and Gspurning’s defensive work.
In the 65th minute, Evans found space open from 25 yards out off a Johnson pass and blistered a shot that beat Perkins. However, the shot didn’t beat the right post and it bounced straight out.
In the 74th minute, Johnson had a chance to finally strike after all of his chances went awry in the first half. Off a Evans cross, Alex Caskey back-heeled to a wide-open Johnson in front of the goal. Johnson struck it well, but too well — the ball hit the crossbar above Perkins.
The match finished with a frantic final 15 minutes, which featured a delay of the game due to placards of yellow and red cards being flung on the field from the stands in response to a rough bit of play by Montreal.