Seattle Sounders FC U-23s 1, Lane United FC 0
Lane United FC lost to the Seattle Sounders FC U23s in Bonney Lake, Washington, conceding from a 78th-minute penalty kick by Joseph Gjertsen in what was otherwise a largely even match. There had been decent attacking and possession by both sides before the penalty incident, which also saw starting Lane United goalkeeper Matt Bersano sent off for denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity, but only one crystal-clear goalscoring chance until then, a breakaway from Guillermo Delgado in the 8th minute which Bersano was responsible for spectacularly denying. Reds backup goalkeeper Chris Lowrimore, thrust into the unfortunate situation of having to stop Gjertsen’s penalty kick, got a hand to the Seattle forward’s attempt but couldn’t keep it out of the net, and though Lane United hoisted at least a dozen balls into the Seattle penalty box in the remaining 15 minutes of action, they were never able to scramble an equalizer.
The match tilted back and forth in 15-minute phases in the first half, Lane United commanding the first albeit with the hiccup of Delgado’s breakaway from a simple vertical ball. The Reds were assured in possession and moved around the field in cohesive units. A few half-chances came out of their early superiority, including Isma Fernández scuffing a shot at Sounders keeper Doug Herrick in the first 30 seconds, but they never truly came close to putting a goal on the board. Then suddenly, for a long spell in the middle of the half, the7 lost their ability to deal with Seattle’s pressure and turned the ball over into several threatening attacks, most of which somehow involved the extremely fast Delgado. Just before halftime, you got the sense that Lane United had regained level footing, exemplified by Alex Pantoja nearly finishing their best move of the game, only to see Herrick tip his first-time shot off a pullback from Daley Stevens over the crossbar. Mueller had also become entangled with most of the Seattle back line by that point, including being apparently dragged down when Jon Zabasajja floated a cross towards his head in the 30th minute. Unfortunately, the referee, Chapalo Street, whose laissez-faire standards bordered on ineptitude, chose not to award the penalty, although he did deservedly caution Mueller a few minutes later for a late foul as a Seattle defender attempted to clear.
Lane United picked up the second half where they’d left off at the end of the first, forcing corners and working in crosses with regularity, although Herrick has to be complimented for commanding his area and corralling most of them. Mueller, saddled with his yellow card, was also substituted early in the second half, which reduced some of the Reds’ forward aerial threat. Seattle had scarcely threatened to break down Lane United, except for one scare off a long throw-in where the substitute David Olson headed narrowly wide, before the penalty incident occurred. Brenden Anderson tried to cushion a back-header to Bersano, but Gjertsen intercepted, bravely got a foot in on the ball and then was cleaned out by the Reds goalkeeper. With the ball trickling onward, other Lane United defenders were on hand to clear it away about five yards from the goal line, but Mr. Street determined that their presence did not preclude Bersano being guilty of denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity, and he was duly sent off, and Lowrimore thrown on to replace him and nearly save the ensuing penalty. Head coach John Galas was full of praise for his team’s response to the unlucky series of events, noting that “we won about five corners in the last ten minutes and had the ball in their half almost the entire time. They’re tough to get through, though, and they cut out almost all of it, but I’m satisfied with the effort. We were dead even for 75 minutes on the road against Seattle; I thought we were a little negative at times in possession before the goal and it hurt us, but I’m not going to fault the overall play or the way the guys responded when they went behind. We just have to regroup and get ready for Crossfire Sunday.”
The Reds play Washington Crossfire in Redmond, Washington on Sunday at 4:00 p.m. That match will be covered on Twitter with @LUFCLiveTweets, and on the Lane United FC blog and YouTube channels after the game.