Will Bruin makes big impact in extra time with equalizer as Sounders earn tie in Montreal

  • Tue Mar 14th, 2017 12:35am
  • Sports

MONTREAL — Cristian Roldan couldn’t believe the final whistle hadn’t blown as he dodged defenders down the right side late in stoppage time.

The onetime Washington Huskies star had evaded what he termed some “false defending” as his Sounders pressed for an equalizer, with the hometown Montreal Impact acting as if the game was already done. Roldan’s team had trailed most of the night Saturday, but now he suddenly found himself about 25 yards out with several teammates waiting in the box.

“The only thing going through my mind was ‘Serve a decent ball,’ ” Roldan said. “Get it in a good spot for the guys to make a play.”

That he did, and Will Bruin slammed one home on a wild goal-mouth scramble to salvage a 2-2 draw in a game the Sounders seemed destined to lose.

The crowd of 34,374 at Olympic Stadium looked on in shock as Bruin leapt in celebration, his first Sounders goal bringing the team all the way back from 2-0 down late. Bruin was one of three late-game substitutions that snatched a point for a Sounders team that had failed to convert throughout.

Montreal led 2-0 with eight minutes to go when Oniel Fisher made a run into the box and was fouled by Laurent Ciman, setting up a Nicolas Lodeiro penalty kick in the 83rd minute. Lodeiro buried the ball in the open left side past Impact keeper Evan Bush to get the Sounders on the board.

Moments later, Clint Dempsey nearly had the equalizer, but it was called back on a Jordan Morris handball that kept it a 2-1 game. Referee Jair Marrufo added three minutes of stoppage time and it appeared the Impact would hang on.

But then, Shoreline native and Roldan’s former Huskies teammate, Henry Wingo, who came on for Harry Shipp in the 72nd minute, started off one final sequence to avoid defeat.

“I thought the game was almost over and they were about to whistle it,” Roldan said. “Credit to Henry for not giving up. He made a simple run and found me.”

And by the time it was done, as Montreal fans screamed in agony while the ball bounced around near the goal, former Houston Dynamo sniper Bruin was there to put it away as he has so often in his career.

“Originally, the cross went over my head,” Bruin said of Roldan’s ball, that was deflected to him off Morris. “I kind of just pounced on it.”

Just as the Sounders pounced on an Impact team, now 0-1-1 as well, that inexplicably let them back in a game all but done. The Impact had capitalized on some turnovers for the 2-0 lead, despite the Sounders controlling much of the play.

Montreal’s explosive midfield trio did the damage as forward Matteo Mancuso broke free up the middle, then moved in alone and around Stefan Frei before tucking the ball in an empty net in the 17th minute.

Later, Ignacio Piatti moved the ball to the top of the box in the 51st minute, crossed up two defenders and beat Frei with a shot along the ground to his right.

But then, Wingo didn’t quit, Roldan kept things going and the Sounders pulled off the improbable.

“Cristian Roldan never stopped,” Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said. “And if you pick apart that play … he did it on the left side, he did it down the middle of the field. He went and got the ball off some of the center backs. That kid put his heart and soul into this game and he is a tremendous competitor, a tremendous battler and also smart. He’s got the smarts.”

Schmetzer was pleased with the overall game by his team, which exhibited more ball control and passing accuracy. But the part about falling behind 2-0 in consecutive weeks was still a bitter pill.

“The game was what we wanted to play,” Schmetzer said. “But we don’t want to have to fight and scratch and claw and have to wait until 30 seconds before the end of the match to score two goals.”

Roldan said his team “shot itself in the foot a little bit” and had only itself to blame for not converting on some earlier chances. But fortunately, the referee left him the final seconds he needed.

“For us to come back from 2-0 speaks volumes about our team,” he said. “Credit to (us) for not giving up.”