Seattle Sounders U-23s 2, Lane United FC 1
Lane United FC lost to the Seattle Sounders FC U23s 2-1 on Friday evening. In front of an impassioned crowd of 561, the Reds could not repeat the magic of 2014’s inaugural night, when they triumphed 1-0 over Seattle; in this year’s home fixture, their play was disjointed for long stretches and the visitors were consistently superior, although Lane United made the final minutes interesting with a stoppage-time goal from Timothy Mueller and an outrageous goalmouth incident that ended with Brenden Anderson being sent off. Lane United head coach John Galas bemoaned his team’s mistakes, saying that “if you shoot yourself in the foot at this level with mistakes and silly fouls in dangerous locations, you’ll be punished, and that’s exactly what happened with us.”
The game started with Guillermo Delgado, the Seattle number nine, running straight past the Lane United central defense inside the first minute and wasting a clear shot from 15 yards by blasting it into the side netting. Alex Pantoja narrowly missed the opposite net on a deflected effort a few minutes later, and then the teams settled into a pattern of less coherent, incisive play. Neither keeper saved a shot the entire match. What attacks did materialize tended to come from Seattle, and when they did, their right winger Florian Valot tended to be involved. He ended the night with a goal and an assist to his name, a fitting reward for an attacking performance which was causing the Reds’ back line trouble well before his team’s first goal came. When it did, in the 31st minute, it was hardly the result of a well-oiled attack; a few nice passes in midfield seemed to have fizzled out when Casey Phillips easily intercepted a through-ball, but he and goalkeeper Chris Lowrimore then miscommunicated in the penalty box, leading to Valot picking up a loose ball and with everyone suddenly at sea, passing to Delgado to slot into an open net.
The second half was largely cut from the same cloth as the first, with Seattle having the edge in attacking and half-chances. In the 54th minute their second goal, as with their first, materialized from an odd sequence, this time Cristian de Luis being penalized for dangerous play with a high boot near the corner with Seattle not particularly threatening at the moment in attack. But a foul is a foul, and all of a sudden, the Sounders were salivating over a dangerous free kick from the wing. When it was swung in viciously by Brandt Bronico, Valot again distinguished himself by separating from his marker and turning a free header from about eight yards past a helpless Lowrimore in goal. Galas said he was happier with his team’s performance in the final 30 minutes of the match, but by then they had given themselves an uphill task. Seattle soon substituted the goalscoreres, Valot and Delgado, and were content to sit and soak up what pressure LUFC could muster. The Reds were finally able to pull a goal back in the first minute of stoppage time with a very good move. Richy Hurtado raced forward down the left channel and slipped a pass wide to Amer Sasivarevic on the wing; with his second touch, he whipped an inch-perfect cross to the near post where Mueller had shown typically adroit penalty-box movement to steal a few inches on his man. He still had work to do but was able to flick an expert header across the face of goal, which nestled in the opposite side netting. The crowd roared in hopes that the final few minutes of stoppage time could see the Reds snatch an improbable point, but it wasn’t to be, with Seattle keeper Paul Christensen intercepting their two final long balls into the box.
Unfortunately, most memories of the night will concern the red-card incident at the end of the match. With the second of those final long balls into the Seattle box, Lane United’s Anderson collided forcefully with Christensen after he had already caught the ball, dislodging it; Anderson then knocked it into the empty net, though not before referee J.J. Blodgett had blown play dead for Anderson’s initial foul. No less than five Seattle players then converged on Anderson while he was on the ground; video from behind the goal, which Lane United has shown to the league, showed players attempting to put Anderson in a headlock and swinging punches at his head. The result of the melee was Anderson being shown a second yellow card and then a red, and a total of one Seattle player, Michael King, receiving a caution. Lane United head coach John Galas said that Blodgett had communicated the sentiment to him after the game that, “basically because my guy started it, all the retaliation was alright. I think (Anderson) deserved a little more protection than one yellow card when he’s lying on the ground with five guys on him.” Play never restarted after the brawl, which began at least five minutes into injury time. Lane United now have less than 48 hours before their next league match, at 12:00 pm on Sunday against the visiting Puget Sound Gunners.