Union Ends Sounders’ Win Streak on Picault’s Late Goal, 1-0
SEATTLE (AP) — Fafa Picault made sure this one counted.
Picault scored in the third minute of second-half stoppage time Wednesday night, and the Philadelphia Union halted Seattle's MLS-record nine-game winning streak by beating the Sounders 1-0.
Goalkeeper Stefan Frei rolled a soft clearance pass out toward defender Gustav Svensson. But Picault got to the ball an instant before Svensson did and took it into the left side of the penalty area 1-on-1 against Frei. From 8 yards away, he drilled it into the back center of the net for his eighth goal of the season.
"I was reading a lot of passes throughout the game," Picault said. "(Teammate) Jay Simpson did a good job of pressuring up high. I saw the cutoff pass, and had the option to maybe play it to Jay. But the goalkeeper came out and made a good block of the angles, so I had to slip it through his legs."
The Union (13-12-4) won for the fifth time in six games. This one came not only after having a second-half goal nullified by an offside call, but after they went down a man when defender Jack Elliott was sent off in the 89th minute with his second yellow card of the night.
"The guys showed a lot of strength and character and commitment, going down a man and continuing to push and get the goal," head coach Jim Curtin said. "It was good pressure by Jay, who we called upon, then Fafa does well to read it, and we make a play.
"The hard work and defensive work of the guys got rewarded," Curtin added. "You're rewarded when you defend collectively as a team, and we were rewarded with a goal. As late as it was, we were still rewarded."
While Frei's teammates were quick to jump to his defense and not pin the loss on him, it was small consolation to the keeper who came with the best goals-against average (0.96) in MLS.
"Saving my teammates' butts is my job. When it works out, it's great, but when you make a mistake as a goalkeeper, it never leads to anything pretty," Frei said. "It's frustrating when it's not even the goalkeeping that leads to a goal. You take risks when you're passing the ball around your own goal and so far, we've done exceptionally well.
"But that doesn't make it any easier — it sucks," he said.
Philadelphia thought it had gotten on the board in the 65th minute when a long through ball from Haris Medunjanin found Cory Burke streaking up the right wing side. Burke took the ball to the right side of the 6-yard box and sent a shallow shot across the goalmouth and into the far side of the net.
The Sounders were back at midfield preparing to kick off when the video review was called. After just a few seconds, referee Ismail Elfath walked away from the screen and waved off the goal, ruling that Burke had been offside.
Seattle (13-10-5) lost for the first time since dropping a 3-2 decision to Portland in Seattle on June 30. In addition to the nine straight wins, they had an overall unbeaten streak of 12 games during that stretch (10-0-2), just one shy of the club record.
"It shows how difficult it is to keep a winning streak going," Frei said. "There's no room for error. You need to be taking care of your chances and need to be very sharp in the back."