The Sounders ended their trip to Argentina today with a 1-0 loss to River Plate. That was their best opponent so far, and the game marked not only the Sounder's only loss on their trip but also their first shutout loss ever.
The Sounders went 2-1-1 in Argentina. Their return flight is scheduled to arrive at SeaTac mid-morning Friday. (General manager Adrian Hanauer and defender Taylor Graham left Wednesday night.) The team will resume training at 10 a.m. Monday at Qwest Field.
Here's a game report from the Sounders:
Facing the most formidable opposition during its four-match tour of Argentina, the Seattle Sounders FC was held scoreless for the first time in 10 preseason games, and fell 1-0 on a goal in the final six minutes on Thursday in Buenos Aires.
Seattle's starters battled the River reserves to a scoreless first half before coach Sigi Schmid inserted a second unit for the final 45 minutes. The loss ended a five-game unbeaten run (4-0-1) and the team went 2-1-1 in Argentina.
Sounders FC returns home with a preseason mark of 7-2-1 and hosts the Colorado Rapids in a closed door training game on March 12 at Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field.
Seattle's best scoring chances came from central defenders coming forward on corner kicks in the first half and again in the final five minutes. Tyrone Marshall hit a powerful header off Sebastien Le Toux's corner in the 5th minute but keeper Gonzalo Marinelli leaped to turn it around the right post.
Searching for the equalizer in the 87th minute, Patrick Ianni headed a corner from Ely Allen, only to have the keeper Marinelli again save with a tip over the bar.
Eylander made an outstretched dive to stop a River shot in the 62nd minute.
The River Plate goal came in the 84th minute after Argentine guest player Sebastian Brunet was beaten down the right flank. Damien Lizio hit the cross into Chris Eylander's upper right corner from 10 yards.
During the first half, Schmid paired Marshall with recently-signed Jhon Kennedy Hurtado for the first time in central defense.
Due to heavy rains Wednesday, the game was played on artificial turf just outside the River Plate stadium, site of the 1978 World Cup final.
RIV-Lizio (Lossano) 84'
Seattle Sounders FC Lineups (4-4-2):
First Half: Kasey Keller; Zach Scott, Tyrone Marshall, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, James Riley; Sebastien Le Toux, Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso, Sanna Nyassi; Nate Jaqua, Fredy Montero
Second Half: Chris Eylander; Sebastian Brunet, Tyson Wahl, Patrick Ianni, Evan Brown; Ely Allen, Ryan Caugherty, Stephen King, Jeff Clark; Michael Fucito, Roger Levesque
Sigi Schmid said:
On playing River Plate: "It's good for us to get a game. It wasn't ideal the way everything came down the last few days with the rain. Yesterday we went to the gym and did weight training. You wouldn't normally weight train before you play a game in the morning. So what ended up happening for us, I think we're a little bit slow because of that. Still, I think it was a good game, I think it was the best opponent that we played on the trip here. You know you learn more sometimes by losing a game than winning it."
On what was learned from the River Plate game: "Obviously we took out of this the fact that we've got to play the ball a bit quicker to people, give the ball to our teammates when they need it rather than when we're through playing with it. We have to be better at our passing and we have to be a bit stronger physically at the right moments and do a better job with our hold-up play up front. That being said, and being fair to the guys too, it was a fast surface. They (River Plate) played on the same surface, but it was also a situation that weight training just robbed you of a little bit of quickness and sharpness that you need on a surface like this."
Assessing the whole trip: "It's been a positive trip. I think we've learned things about ourselves. We've gotten more minutes for guys together on the field, so the understanding is better. You learn from doing things successful, you also learn from things that don't work. You learn a lot that way. I think we accomplished that. It allowed us to continue to work on our fitness and allowed us to push that in the right direction. It's been a good trip for all those factors."