Schmid's gamble backfires against TFC

STEVEN SANDOR, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:13 AM ET

Sigi Schmid gambled — and lost.

For any regular follower of Major League Soccer, the starting lineup Seattle’s coach drew up for Sunday’s 2-0 loss to Toronto FC was a head-scratcher. Schmid left a cadre of regulars on the bench, gambling that some of the reserves would come through and snatch three points from their BMO Field visit.

Regulars Fredy Montero and Steve Zakuani, who each scored against FC Dallas in a 2-2 draw Thursday, started on the bench. Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, the team’s defensive rock, also was on the bench.

Meanwhile, Designated Player Freddie Ljungberg, who was only used as a sub in the Dallas draw, started as the lone striker.

Really, the team used two very different teams for the two games.

“It was strange,” Ljungberg said. “I never experienced that in my career before.”

That’s probably a stretch. During Ljungberg’s time with English Premier League side Arsenal, manager Arsene Wenger would regularly rest star players for games against lower opposition.

The squad juggling was a product of the Sounders having to played two games in four days. The Sounders played Thursday in Dallas, then flew directly to Toronto.

Schmid knew he would need to rotate his squad through the two games in order to ensure the troops would be fresh for both contests. But after the starting lineups for Sunday’s game were distributed through the press box, it was clear which of the two opponents he considered to be tougher, as the Sounders sat a slew of regulars at BMO Field.

Just like the Leafs are used to seeing back-up goalies, TFC was only worth a reserve squad with Ljungberg thrown in as the cherry on top.

In the end, though, the Sounders got only one point out of two games.

Still, the Sounders weren’t displeased with their effort.

“I thought we played amazingly well,” Ljungberg said. “We played a great passing game.”

“We had enough chances to score three, four or five,” said Zakuani, who came on as a second-half substitute.

After playing the full 90 minutes against Dallas, he knew he would only be available for 35-40 minutes Sunday.

Montero also came in late.

Had Seattle been able to finish two clear-cut open chances in the first half — Patrick Ianni and Brad Evans, who started in place of Montero at the striker spot, both missed wide-open headers in the first half — Schmid’s gamble might have paid off.

Turned away

Evans also had a one-on-one chance against TFC ’keeper Stefan Frei in the second half, and was turned away.

“I thought we played well in the first half,” Schmid said. “I thought we had more of the game... I was not displeased with the guys who played.

“We made a mistake in back and it was a shot of adrenaline for Toronto.”

He was referring to Dwayne De Rosario’s opening goal, which came after Osvaldo Alonso absolutely whiffed on a clearing attempt. Things could have been so much different had Hurtado, one of the best central defenders in the league, been on the pitch.

steven.sandor@sunmedia.ca


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