Seattle Sounders 2 - 1 Vancouver
Memorial Stadium, Seattle
33 SEA - McCormick (PK)
68 VAN - Sulentic
71 SEA - Howes (Sawatzky)
Seattle: Bill May; Ali John Utush, Kieran Barton, Craig Waibel, Scott Jenkins; Dick McCormick, Sean Henderson, Andrew Gregor, Viet Nguyen; Greg Howes (Kei Kinoshita 87), Darren Sawatzky.
Vancouver: Didar Sandhu; Rick Titus, Steve McCauley, Steve MacDonald; Jeff Skinner (Tiarnan King 77), Geordie Lyall, Kevin Holness, John Sulentic, Alfredo Valente (Chris Clarke 64); Jason Jordan (Domenic Mobelio 74), Darren Tilley (David Morris 81).
Match report by Ron Stickney:
After losing at Vancouver 3-0 the previous evening, the Seattle Sounders won the home leg of a home-and-away series against the Vancouver 86ers by a score of 2-1. Seattle scored first when Dick McCormick converted a penalty kick after Viet Nguyen was knocked down going for an air ball in the penalty area. In the second half, Vancouver leveled the score when John Sulentic put a 25-yard free kick straight in. Seattle regained the lead when rookie Greg Howes finished Darren Sawatzky's perfect cross to the far post, and that held for the match winner.
Seattle outshot Vancouver 16-3 in the first half, but needed a penalty kick to finish one.
Early chances went Seattle's way. McCormick's cross gave Howes a half chance for the first shot, but good defense forced the shot wide. A corner kick was cleared to Andrew Gregor, who put a shot on goal but within reach of Vancouver goalkeeper Didar Sandhu. Nguyen's corner kick was punched away by Sandhu, then volleyed back at goal by McCormick but sent just over the bar. Sawatzky did a stepover move on the right side and fired a low shot on goal, but Sandhu collapsed to catch the ball. McCormick was just over the bar again from 25 yards. Gregor's feint let him shoot from the arc, but Sandhu made the arm block and Howes' cross from the rebound was cleared by a defender.
In the 20th minute, Vancouver finally created a chance when the ball was headed into the penalty area on the left for Alfredo Valente, who shot from 10 yards, but into Seattle goalkeeper Bill May, who charged the shot for his first and best save. Vancouver had the next good chance as well when from Kevin Holness' cross-pitch cross Valente next hit a rising shot that glanced off the top of the crossbar.
For Seattle, Gregor's cross was volleyed by Howes and the first bounce just missed the top near corner. Howes crossed to the near post and Nguyen tried to beat Sandhu the short way but Sandhu was home for the save.
33' McCormick (PK). Going for an air ball in Vancouver's penalty area, Nguyen was shouldered down by Steve McCauley and referee Javier Padilla immediately whistled and pointed to the spot. McCormick put the penalty kick accurately into the lower left corner for his first goal of the season to give Seattle the first lead. The happy McCormick ran straight to his young son in the stands to celebrate.
The momentum continued Seattle's way. Nguyen used strength to win a loose ball above the arc, but wasted a shot wide. Sawatzky wasted the next shot well wide. Howes sent a ball ahead for Sawatzky, who had a half step on his marker and appeared to have a good chance, but the defender recovered to pressure Sawatzky into an easily-saved shot.
In the 45th minute, Howes fought free of a shirt grab and carried up the middle to fire from 25, and Sandhu made it to the top far corner for the catch. A McCormick free kick from the left corner of the penalty area curled 2 yards wide of the far post with nobody on a far-post run. From a corner kick play, Scott Jenkins volleyed a shot just over from 15 yards.
Halftime: Seattle 1 - 0 Vancouver
The second half was more evenly played, with Seattle outshooting Vancouver 6-5. Vancouver had the early chances. Darren Tilley's 25-yard shot from a Seattle clearance was right to May's feet. Jason Jordan fought off a shoulder charge by Kieran Barton to earn a shot that was sent over the bar.
Back Seattle's way at 59', Nguyen dropped a nice ball for Sean Henderson for a great chance, but Sandhu collapsed to block the shot. Ali John Utush came up on the right side for a cross past the far post, and Howes' header was just wide of the close post.
68' Sulentic. With a late challenge in the air, Barton knocked down Tilley and a foul was called 25 yards from goal a bit to the right. Young John Sulentic, a known threat on free kicks, put a low shot past the end of the wall and just inside the far post to level the score at 1-1.
71' Howes (Sawatzky). Seattle wasted no time in answering. Sawatzky took a pass on the left side and beat two men, carrying the ball towards the left corner. Sawatzky's cross was a hero maker, sailing over the keeper and diving down at the far post. Howes timed his run perfectly, running in unmarked to volley the cross home explosively from 10 yards to give Seattle the 2-1 lead that would hold.
Jeff Skinner had Vancouver's last good chance 2 minutes later, an 18-yarder sent well side.
Nguyen had the final chances for Seattle. An attack led to a 15-yard shot by Nguyen, fired over the bar. AJ Utush carried the ball all the way from the right back position to near the Vancouver penalty area, then passed ahead for Nguyen, whose shot just missed the lower far corner. Nguyen also had a crown pleaser when he was charged hard as he carried the ball over the halfway line and did a shoulder roll, popping up with the ball at his feet.
The final 10 minutes saw no good shots, but 4 yellow cards. Gregor got an unfortunate caution when the referee punished Gregor for McCormick's delay because McCormick already had one caution.
Final: Seattle 2 - 1 Vancouver
Referee: Javier Padilla; Asst Refs: Mohammad Zarabbi-Kashani, Mike Fox; 4th Official: Jeff Monnett.