In return, Keller gave the record crowd of 64,140 at CenturyLink Field a performance for the ages.
He also helped give his club a 2-1 come-from-behind win over the San Jose Earthquakes.
The crowd was the largest ever to watch the Sounders in a league match, and the third largest ever to watch an MLS game that wasn’t part of an international doubleheader.
MLS commissioner sent a Twitter post calling it “A great tribute for a legendary American soccer star.”
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In terms of MLS standings, the game was meaningless to both sides. Seattle (17-7-9) has clinched the second spot in the Western Conference, while the Earthquakes (7-12-14) already had been eliminated from playoff contention.
However, Sounders coach Sigi Schmid had said he wanted to use the game to get the Sounders into the right form for the MLS playoffs that loom at the end of the month.
But that’s not the way the Sounders started. Seattle looked disjointed early – especially on defense. And it finally cost them in the 25th minute, when Jhon Kennedy Hurtado misplayed a ball in the middle third. San Jose countered quickly, with Chris Wondolowski finishing with his MLS-high 15th goal of the season.
The Quakes had several chances to build on that lead, but they were turned aside by several acrobatic saves by Keller. The best sequence came in the 66th minute, when he made three saves in a single San Jose attack.
That bought the Sounders the chance for a comeback.
And they took advantage of it in the 82nd minute when Sammy Ochoa scored his first MLS goal, assisted by Mauro Rosales in his return from a knee injury.
The game-winner came in the 87th minute, with Fredy Montero notching his 12th goal of the season, assisted by Lamar Neagle and Brad Evans.
“First half wasn’t our best half of soccer," Schmid said. "I thought we gave away way too much space at midfield. We needed to control the middle part of the field. That was a big thing we talked about at halftime. I thought we did a better job of that in the second half. Certainly, you could see the impact that Mauro [Rosales] has on our game. When he came onto the field, he just changed our whole dynamic a little bit. It was great to see Sammy Ochoa get his first goal in a Sounder uniform and I thought Fredy Montero finished his goal very well. Not to neglect, certainly there were some great saves that Kasey [Keller] made throughout the game tonight that really kept us in the game and gave us the opportunity to win the game in the last 10 minutes. So, not our best night but again, we showed our resiliency and our character in being able to come back and pull out a win at home.”
The Sounders return to CenturyLink on Tuesday, meeting Monterrey in the final game of CONCACAF Champions League group play.
They will conclude their MLS regular season Saturday at Chivas USA.
I will add postgame quotes in new posts above, and conclude this post now with unofficial quotes below:
Scoring Summary: SJ -- Chris Wondolowski 15 (Rafael Baca 3) 24SEA -- Sammy Ochoa 1 (Mauro Rosales 13) 82SEA -- Fredy Montero 12 (Lamar Neagle 2, Brad Evans 4) 87 San Jose Earthquakes-- Jon Busch, Steven Beitashour, Bobby Burling, Jason Hernandez, Justin Morrow, Simon Dawkins, Sam Cronin, Brad Ring, Rafael Baca, Chris Wondolowski, Khari Stephenson.
Substitutes Not Used: Joey Gjertsen, Maxwell Griffin, Chris Leitch, Matt Luzunaris, Ellis McLoughlin, Jacob Peterson, David Bingham.
TOTAL SHOTS: 14 (Chris Wondolowski 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 8 (Chris Wondolowski 4); FOULS: 19 (Jason Hernandez 5); OFFSIDES: 0; CORNER KICKS: 5 (Simon Dawkins 5); SAVES: 1 (Jon Busch 1)
Seattle Sounders -- Kasey Keller, James Riley, Patrick Ianni, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Tyson Wahl, Alvaro Fernandez (Sammy Ochoa 68), Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Lamar Neagle (Zach Scott 90), Mike Fucito (Mauro Rosales 64), Fredy Montero.
Substitutes Not Used: Erik Friberg, Roger Levesque, Pat Noonan, Bryan Meredith.
TOTAL SHOTS: 13 (Fredy Montero 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (3 tied with 1); FOULS: 10 (Mike Fucito 3); OFFSIDES: 3 (3 tied with 1); CORNER KICKS: 3 (Lamar Neagle 3); SAVES: 7 (Kasey Keller 7)
Misconduct Summary: SJ -- Justin Morrow (caution; Reckless Tackle) 6SJ -- Brad Ring (caution; Reckless Foul) 40SEA -- Patrick Ianni (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 48SJ -- Jason Hernandez (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 57
Referee: Michael KennedyReferee's Assistants:-Kermit Quisenberry; Bill Dittmar
4th Official: Hilario GrajedaAttendance: 64,140Time of Game: 1:52Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-52-degrees
87th minute: GOAL Seattle. Montero puts Seattle ahead, 2-1, assisted by Neagle and Evans.
82nd minute: GOAL Seattle. Sammy Ochoa, assisted by Mauro Rosales. 1-1.
68th minute: Sammy Ochoa in for Fernandez.
Attendance: 64,140. That's the largest crowd ever to see the Sounders in a league match, and the third largest MLS crowd not part of an international doubleheader.
Sounders season attendance average ends at 38,498, a league record.
66th minute: Staggeringly good one, two, three saves by Keller.
64th minute: Mauro Rosales reports in.
Second half: ... has begun.
Halftime: San Jose up, 1-0. And it could have been worse, except Kasey Keller is showing why so many fans have gathered to honor him.
San Jose out-shot Seattle 8-3. Keller made four saves, including two or three dazzlers.
This had always seemed like dangerous game emotionally, but these Sounders do not look like the team they will want to take into Texas or Utah in a couple of weeks.
25th minute: GOAL San Jose. Chris Wondolowski finishes a breakaway after a misplay by Jhon Kennedy Hurtado.
As near as I can tell, the Sounders have never won when playing in front of 60,000 people. Although, granted, the opponents were Man U, Barcelona and Chelsea.
First 15 minutes: Nil-nil. Not really picking up much flow yet. But to be honest, I've been looking in the stands as much as on the pitch.
Kickoff: We're under way. Sounders in green/blue. Quakes in black/black.
Lineups: For Seattle: GK Keller; D Riley, Ianni, Hurtado, Wahl; M Fernandez, Alonso, Evans, Neagle; F Fucito, Montero. Reserves: Meredith, Friberg, Levesque, Noonan, Ochoa, Rosales, Scott.
For San Jose: GK Busch; D Beitashour, Burling, Hernandez, Morrow; M Dawkins, Cronin, Ring, Baca; F Wondolowski, Stephenson. Reserves: Bingham, Gjetsen, Griffin, Leitch, Luzunaris, McLoughlin, Peterson.
Attendance update: The Sounders have announced ticket sales at 63,700 as of about 4 p.m. For comparison, attendance at Husky Stadium today was 62,147.
Pregame: The Sounders play their regular-season home finale at 7:30 tonight, hosting the San Jose Earthquake. The game is expected to set a few attendance records, mostly due to inclusion with a Man U ticket package, and with the farewell to legendary Sounders keeper Kasey Keller of Olympia.
It's nice for all that, because there isn't much at stake on the pitch. Seattle is set at No. 2 in the league -- no higher no lower. And the Earthquakes already have been eliminated from playoff contention.
However, the importance of this game -- beyond the Heritage Cup -- and the season-ender next week at Chivas USA is the chance for the Sounders to get back on the winning track before the playoffs after losing here to Philly last week.
Here's what coach Sigi Schmid had to say about his goal for these final games of the regular seaon: "Maintaining rhythm. You want you team to be sharp going into the playoffs. You want them to be confident. You want them to be playing well. So from that standpoint it’s important. It’s important that we continue to do things that we’ve been doing, continue to play well, and that’s what these last two weeks are about."
The game will be broadcast on Fox Soccer and the usual radio outlets. We'll be blogging and Tweeting before, during and after. Your comments very welcome through both media.