Friday night’s 2-1 loss at Seattle was a lot like other Chivas USA defeats this year, only more emphatic.
The atmosphere -- more than 36,000 standing, singing, chanting fans, all with Sounders scarves; it’s just like England -- had something to do with that, but the contrast between the clubs and their fortunes couldn’t be more pronounced.
The Goats, even when fully healthy, don’t have anybody who can stand next to Fredy Montero, Steve Zakuani, Blaise Nkufo, Osvaldo Alonso … we could go on. The Sounders possess one of the most talented sides in the league, and when they’re playing with as much confidence and flair as they did Friday night -- and have been most of the past three months -- you’ve got to feel for the club that draws Seattle for the first round of the playoffs.
Good chance that’s the Galaxy. Nice reward for posting the best record in Major League Soccer.
Chivas (8-16-4) did its part, surrendering both goals after turnovers on its side of the field, and nearly conceding a third after another giveaway. The speed and precision with which the Sounders turned those miscues into scores was breathtaking:
Jeff Parke steps forward to pick off a lazy ball 20 yards outside the Goats’ box, immediately plays it to Zakuani, who -- all in the space of maybe five yards -- avoids Michael Umaña’s slide, steps past Michael Lahoud, snakes past Jonathan Bornstein and Ante Jazic, then quicksteps advancing goalkeeper Zach Thornton and fires into an open net. Ninth minute, 1-0.
Rodolfo Espinoza tries to link up with Lahoud near midfield, but Alonso steps in to take the ball and chips to Montero, who patiently waits and then feeds the overlapping Zakuani. Alonso races from Lahoud’s cover to first-time Zakuani’s cross into the middle. Twenty-fifth minute, 2-0.
And that was it. Zach Thornton made two very nice saves in the 60th and 61st minutes -- the stop on Zakuani’s powerful header, the second of the chances, was sensational -- and Jesus Padilla pulled one back in stoppage. Giancarlo Maldonado also had a nice goal, a volley from an Espinoza free kick, but he was well offside.
Next up for the Goats: Wednesday night at San Jose and next Saturday at Home Depot Center against Chicago.