[MLS]Seattle fans -- 32,705 for a midweek game! -- might want to subtitle their team's 1-0 home loss to New England Thursday, "The Curious Decisions of Baldomero Toledo," yet a more objective viewpoint would point blame in other directions.
Revs keeper Matt Reis wasn't required to make a single save, not even when Fredy Montero stepped up to the penalty spot late in the first half with a chance to match Shalrie Joseph's goal in the 21st minute. Montero slammed his shot off the underside of the crossbar, it thudded behind Reis just off the goal line, and caromed back into play.
Defender Kevin Alston, though, twice cleared from in front of goal and center backs Emmanuel Osei and Darrius Barnes intervened repeatedly as a resolute Revs defense stepped up at the vital moments. Seattle's edge in midfield possession seldom produced a clearcut chance, as Joseph, Jeff Larentowicz and Steve Ralston broke up plays and used their touches smartly to keep possession or hit wide balls to spring Kenny Mansally and Sainey Nyassi.
Montero labored before and after his miss, blundering into tackles and seldom gliding by opponents with a nick of the ball and a spurt of speed as he's often done this season. Forward partner Nate Jaqua betrayed his honest efforts by botched finishes, such as the Leo Gonzalez pull-back he scuffed wide, and a header from a corner he sent over the top. Rookie midfielder Steve Zakuani struggled aside from a few bright moments and faded in the second half.
Joseph's goal that decided the game blended equal amounts defensive ineptitude and resolute determination. Combination play involving Larentowicz and Edgaras Jankauskas in the Sounders half of the field yielded a Ralston chip to Joseph that skipped and thus flummoxed goalie Kasey Keller and his defenders. Keller leaned the wrong way and thus couldn't get his hands to the ball as Joseph, falling over, scuffed it past him with barely enough force to nudge the net.
In addition to a long injury list and the suspension of head coach Steve Nicol, the Revs survived the dismissal of assistant coach Paul Mariner. Toledo expelled him at halftime and he and Nicol shared a private box for the second half. Goalkeeper coach Gwynne Williams handled bench duties.
Toledo issued seven cautions, and penalized Ralston for a kick to Montero's ribs in the penalty area that, while unintentional, clearly was a foul. The Sounders and their fans howled when a deflected ball hit the arm of a Rev in the penalty area and Toledo ignored it.
The Nyassi twins missed by just minutes of playing against each other. Sainey of the Revs came off in the 67 th minute, Sanna of Seattle entered as a sub in the 69th .
Both teams return to action Sunday. New England hosts Real Salt Lake, and Seattle travels to Houston.
Aug. 20 in Seattle
Seattle 0, New England 1.
Goal: Joseph (Ralston, Jankauskas) 21.
Seattle -- Keller, Riley, Hurtado, Ianni, Gonzalez ( Scott, 90), Evans, Alonso, Vagenas (Sanna Nyassi 69), Zakuani, Jaqua (Le Toux, 64), Montero.
New England --Reis, Alston, Barnes, Osei, Heaps, Ralston, Joseph, Larentowicz, Mansally (Castro, 80), Sainey Nyassi (Thompson, 67), Jankauskas (Dube, 65).