19 July, 2010

Seattle Sounders - Celtic Craziness

I saw the first half of the friendly between Celtic and Seattle Sounders, and it was insane. Kasey Keller was injured and was doing excellent television commentary. He isn't diplomatic and isn't afraid to criticize anyone. This is especially relevant because Seattle had planned to give Kasey's backup Terry Boss a 90 minute game experience. They also had to call up a new backup, Jordan Jennings, from Seattle University who has never played in an MLS game (he is the Tacoma Tide goalkeeper).

Another interesting tidbit was that Celtic's goalkeeper is American Dominic Cervi, from Norman, Oklahoma. Cervi is the starting goalkeeper for the US U-23 team but also has an Italian passport. Kasey Keller pointed out that makes him an EU player and does not need a work permit like Kasey and other Americans needed to play in Europe.

After 30 minutes, Boss tripped Georgios Samaras as he was about to score a goal. The referee blew his whistle. Then Samaras scored the goal. Advantage, right? Wrong. No goal (huh?), Red Card. In comes Jennings with no warmup to face a penalty kick. Oddly enough, CELTIC complained about the red card. Kasey explained it perfectly: Celtic are here to get a good practice game in, and they want to face a full 11 man squad. They pleaded with the referee NOT to eject the player, to take back the red and change it to a yellow since it was only a friendly, and let the goal stand because of advantage, but it was too late. The referee had already blown the whistle and showed the red card. Samaras scored the penalty, but less than a minute later, Jennings got his first touch and the Seattle crowd roared in support of the local boy.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon told the Everett (WA) Herald “Yeah, I thought the referee should’ve just let the goal stand as it was and common sense prevails, you know?” Lennon said. “But I think he had already made the decision to give the penalty and the laws of the game, the goalkeeper unfortunately had to go. Sometimes it’s worthwhile playing against 10 men to see how we adapt, but probably would’ve preferred 11 v. 11, yeah.”

OK, the good news: Seattle's newest player, Blaise Nkufo of Switzerland, was outstanding, as were the Colombian duo of Fredy Montero and Miguel Montano. Mark my words: Nkufo will be one of the best forwards in MLS this season. Freddie Ljungberg wasn't playing, and with Ljungberg, the two of them will connect for a lot of goals.

Steve Kelley of The Seattle Times writes that Nkufo "Because of his size (6 feet 2) and strength, he is practically impossible to budge off the ball. He is so chiseled, he may have less body fat than the statue of him that stands outside the stadium of his former Dutch club, FC Twente."

Anyway, a bit of consolation for Seattle: After Celtic's Patrick McCourt made the score 2-0 in the second half, rookie David Estrada entered the game as a substitute, scored a goal to make the score 2-1, and then nearly tied the game in stoppage time.

Video: OriginalDeaN

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