Blaise Nkufo’s surprising departure from Sounders FC created a spot in the starting lineup for O’Brien White to make his Seattle debut.
At least twice over the Sounders’ opener, White would find the ball at his feet close in front of the goal mouth, and in each case, he would fail to convert.
Those were just two of a number of chances that Seattle would squander on this rainy tonight at Qwest Field, and each would come back to bite them in a season-opening 1-0 loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy.
The Galaxy’s lone goal came on the heels of an error by the other newcomer in the Sounders’ lineup: midfielder Erik Friberg, who was brought in from Sweden during the offseason.
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In the 63rd minute, Friberg, who made a reputation with his fine passing during the preseason, sent a bad one toward midfield where it was intercepted by Todd Dunivant. The Los Angeles defender sent the ball forward to Juninho, who fired a swerving sizzler in from the top of the penalty area, beating Kasey Keller at the near post.
It was Seattle's first opening-night loss in its three-year history. The game played out before a crowd of 36,433, the largest home crowd ever to watch the Sounders in MLS competition.
Here's was coach Sigi Schmid's overview:
It sounds like the bugaboo from preseason. I thought we forced some good situations, forced some saves, were around it. The Galaxy, I thought, were dangerous all night on the counterattack. That’s the way they were playing: Beckham and Donovan were cheating a little bit defensively and had opportunities to counter. … A tie, I think probably would have been a fair result. It is what it is. I thought the effort was good tonight. I thought the soccer at times was good. It still can get better, but that’s a coach talking.
I'll be back with notes and quotes.
79th minute: White out, Lamar Neagle -- of Tacoma/Federal Way -- comes on for his MLS debut.
73rd minute: Zakuani sends a cross to the middle of the six-yard box, where White touches it just wide of the goal.
Attendance: 36,433, highest ever for an MLS home match at Qwest. (Getting drenched, too.)
65th minute: Donovan gets free behind the Seattle defense and whistles one off the crossbar.
63rd minute: Levesque in for Fernandez.
58th minute: Galaxy moves ahead 1-0. Erik Friberg pass intercepted near midfield by Todd Dunivant, who passes off to Juninho, who fires a swerving sizzler from the top of the penalty area, beating Keller to the near post.
This is the first goal surrendered by the Sounders in three First Kick matches.
55th minute: Back-to-back crosses into the box by Fernandez punched away by Saunders.
Second half: ... has begun. No lineup changes.
Halftime: Nil-nil. Even game. Good-but-not-great chances for both sides.
(Late yellow to Leo Gonzalez.)
Shots, 7-4 Seattle; shots on goal 5-0 Seattle; fouls 8-8; offsides 1-1; corners, 3-1 LA.
43rd minute: Loose ball to Friberg at the top of the box with Sounders out of position, but he sends it in just wide right.
Friberg picks up a yellow card a few seconds later.
42nd minute: Ball to White at the top of the area arc. He send it on goal, but right to the center of the goal where it's easly handled by Saunders.
34th minute: Nice bicycle kick pass into the area by Fernandez, but nothing comes from it.
25th minute: Beckham corner. Lots of boos.
24th minute: Ball comes to White's feel in the penalty area, and he loses it. Free kick follows shortly and Fernandez puts a header on goal, but saved.
15th minute: Several bad touches by Landon Donovan. One nice strike on goal by Fredy Montero. I'm not sure O'Brian White has touched the ball. And LA has managed a couple of scary chances over the past five minutes.
Kickoff: 7 p.m. and we are finally under way: Galaxy in white/white, and Sounders in their rave/blue, which looks pretty familiar despite the new striping.
6:36 p.m. Both teams remain out on the rainy Qwest Field pitch.
(And unfortunately, the Qwest pitch looks as bad -- and as artificial -- as I've ever seen it.)
Once the game gets going, we'll keep this post open as our running blog, for pregame news (of which there has already been quite a bit), in-game reports, postgame notes and quotes ... and most of all your comments on this season's First Kick and first impressions on the third edition of the Sounders.
More frequent game updates will appear on my twitter account, for which there is a link in the left-hand column.