There were so many key moments in the Union’s 3-1 victory over Seattle Sounders FC in the debut of $122 million PPL Park on Sunday.
Sebastien Le Toux’s game-tying goal on a penalty kick was clutch. So was Fred’s first goal of the season, which ended up being the game-winner. Don’t forget about Danny Mwanga’s fourth goal in his rookie season.
All good choices.
But by far the biggest play in the match came in the 60th minute when Union goalkeeper Chris Seitz made a remarkable diving save on a penalty kick by Seattle’s Pat Noonan, managing to both stop the shot and smother the rebound. The Union had just tied the game five minutes earlier, but another Seattle goal would have erased all momentum.
Seitz prevented that from happening, igniting a jubilant hometown crowd.
While Seitz has improved as much as any player on the club over the first 11 games, his game-changing save was the defining moment that he, and Union fans, were waiting for.
“I think our coaching staff does a real good job of getting us footage of past games,” Seitz said. “They had a good idea of tendencies of players (on penalty kicks). I try and look at tendencies of players throughout the game and try to make the best guess I can. There is also a bit of luck in there.
“It felt good, but more importantly it was good for our team. We were in a tight situation. It was 1-1 at the time and for us to keep it at 1-1 was big at the time. I am just happy I could get one finally.”
When Seitz gathered the ball and kept the game tied, he could hear the crowd.
Could he ever.
“It was special,” Seitz said. “For a lot of us, it was our second time here playing (after a training session the day before). To get the support that we have in the city is just huge for us. We want to go out there after a break and put a good performance together for our fans most importantly. So for us to go out there and get the win that we did with a good answer in the second half is huge for our confidence and huge for us moving forward.”
Remember when some were calling for Seitz to be replaced? Not anymore.
He has the look of a completely different 'keeper than he did early in the season, and his confidence level is soaring heading into Saturday’s match at Chivas USA.
“I’ve been working every day to get better,” Seitz said. “I’m in a different place than I was before the first game. I think that comes with experience, and I’m thankful the club has shown such confidence in me. I’m studying film every day and doing everything I can to get better.”
The defenders in front of Seitz have taken notice.
“I think you see it in Chris’ leadership qualities,” Califf said. “He’s been very vocal, and that’s great. We all have high expectations here about this season. I think the whole club is going to improve. We think we have great ability from top to bottom here."