Late goals give Seattle, Keller 2-1 win
SEATTLE—Leading up to his final regular-season home match, Seattle's Kasey Keller thought he would be able to keep the emotions under control even as more than 60,000 turned out to honor his career.
His nerves? Those proved to be another story.
"This was the most nervous I've been for a game since the World Cup," Keller said. "I didn't want to come out and disappoint."
If he was a little shaky, Keller never showed it on the field. In fact, even at age 41 he showed why he'll retire as still one of the top goalkeeper in Major League Soccer.
Keller made sevens saves to keep Seattle around long enough for Sammy Ochoa and Fredy Montero to score in the final 10 minutes and give the Sounders a 2-1 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday night.
Ochoa pulled the Sounders even in the 82nd minute when he collected a pass from Mauro Rosales and drilled a right-footed shot off the post and past goalkeeper Jon Busch. Five minutes later, Montero took a pass from Lamar Neagle and chipped his shot past Busch to give the Sounders an unlikely victory.
And a deserved result for Keller before 64,140, the third-largest single-game crowd in MLS history.
This wasn't Keller's final home game as Seattle already wrapped up second place in the Western Conference and will host the second-leg of a semifinal playoff series, against either Real Salt Lake or FC Dallas.
But it was the chance to honor his two decades of professional soccer. Keller was the first American to play on a U.S. passport in England and added firsts during other stops in his career playing at the highest levels in Spain and Germany. Then he returned to Seattle to lead the Sounders for their first three seasons to cap a career that included 102 national team appearances and four World Cup's.
The crowd was just a small symbol of acknowledgment for what Keller has accomplished. He was feted by the team with a pair of bronzed goalkeeper gloves, a motorcycle for him and an all-terrain vehicle for his wife following the victory as the massive crowd chanted "Kasey Keller! Kasey Keller!"
And it all came after one of his finest performances.
Chris Wondolowski scored his 15th goal of the season in the 24th minute for San Jose on a breakaway, but it was the other stops that Keller made in the first half that kept Seattle within 1-0 at the break. Keller made a remarkable save with his right hand, scooping Wondolowski's header off the goal line and away from danger in the 43rd minute.
His sequence in the second half was even better and at least gave Seattle a chance at scoring late.
It came in the 65th minute when Keller ran out and slid to push away a flubbed pass by Patrick Ianni. He bounced up and immediately stopped one shot well out from his net, then made another diving save and finally was able to shove the ball away from danger.
The rapid saves drew a standing ovation and even a scolding remark from Seattle owner Joe Roth during the postgame ceremony.
"Who would have thought for his last home game we would ask him to win it by himself?" Roth said.
Ochoa was barely onside when he got the pass from Rosales and one-timed his shot past Busch. Rosales was playing for the first time in three games after suffering a sprained knee last month. Montero's goal was his 12th of the season.
And for good measure, Keller added a save on Bobby Burling's header in the 90th minute to ensure the victory.
"He's played so many outstanding games for the Sounders that as a coach sometimes you almost go, 'OK, it's expected.' But you can't ever become complacent, you can't ever expect it," Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said. "Big goalkeepers make saves at crucial points of the game and that's what Kasey does."
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