Seattle Sounders 2 - 1 Bay Area
Memorial Stadium, Seattle
22 SEA - Waibel (Nguyen)
46 BAY - Jeffrey (Sweet)
85 SEA - Sawatzky (McCormick)
Seattle: Bill May; Ali John Utush, Craig Waibel, Scott Jenkins, Tim Steidten; Dick McCormick, Sean Henderson, Andrew Gregor, Viet Nguyen; Greg Howes (Chad Brown 88), Darren Sawatzky.
Bay Area: Greg Connell (Dave Alexander 46); Troy Dayak, Tim Weaver, Ryan Edwards; Jeremy Sweet, Simon Weiss, Jeff Baicher, Angelo Sablo (Aman Kebreab 88), Marquis White; Kevin Jeffrey, Kevin Eagleston (Steve Chirgwin 77).
The Seattle Sounders played just well enough to earn a 2-1 victory over the visiting Bay Area Seals, who played quite well considering that they had played in Vancouver the previous evening. Craig Waibel headed in a Seattle corner kick to give the Sounders a 1-0 halftime lead. Kevin Jeffrey scored soon after the break to level the score. An 85th-minute goal from Darren Sawatzky gave Seattle the win.
21-year-old defender Tim Steidten, on loan from the Werder Bremen development system, played well in his first Sounders home match. Defender Kieran Barton sat out the match, having earned the frequent fouler award for too many cautions. Forwards Erik Storkson and Craig Tomlinson were still on the injured list.
Seattle arranged themselves in the back with Ali John Utush as sweeper, Steidten as center back, Scott Jenkins as left back and Craig Waibel as right back. They were kept busy, as Bay Area's Kevin Jeffrey, Jeff Baicher and Marquis White were dangerous all night. When it was over the teams were even in shots with 15 apiece, but Seattle had the all-important edge in stats where it counts, on the scoreboard.
Darren Sawatzky took the first shot in the third minute, skying it.
Bay Area had their best shot of the half in the 12th when White got a solid head on Baicher's corner kick and drove it a half yard over the bar.
A minute later Gregor was put through up the middle, inside the area, but goalkeeper Greg Connell read the play well and was quickly out for the sliding block.
With nothing else developing, Kevin Eagleston tried from 30 yards and was well wide.
22' Waibel (Nguyen). On Seattle's fourth corner kick, Viet Nguyen sent a perfect in-swinger to the far post, where Craig Waibel skied to head it in, glancing it off the top of the close post. Seattle 1-0.
The Seals turned up the pressure for the rest of the half, but Seattle's defense held. White looked open for a shot from the arc, but Steidten got there just in time to stuff the shot. Jeremy Sweet tried a 35-yarder up the middle but was a yard above the corner.
Seattle's Greg Howes tried his first shot in the 30th but sent it wide from 25. Andrew Gregor's long free kick from the right side dove at the top far corner and Connell flew to push it wide with one hand.
Then it was all Bay Area for the last ten minutes of the half. Waibel tripped Jeffrey to the right of the penalty area, yielding a dangerous free kick, but Waibel made up for it by heading Baicher's free kick clear. White put English on a hard shot from the left but hooked it away from the far post. Troy Dayak tried from 30 yards and was yards high. On another dangerous free kick from right of the area, Baicher rolled a short pass to Simon Weiss, whose shot was blocked by a charging Dick McCormick.
Halftime: Seattle 1 - 0 Bay Area
46' Jeffrey (Sweet). Seattle's defense was uncharacteristically caught napping soon after the second half kickoff. Sweet's throw-in was nicely dummied by Angelo Sablo and Jeffrey was allowed time at the arc to settle the ball and shoot. The shot may have been miskicked, for it fooled goalkeeper Bill May and floated into the top far corner, where it hit the crossbar and deflected down to the floor behind the goal line. 1-1, new match.
The next 20 minutes saw a yellow card to each team, but only one good shot when Waibel got his head on a Howes free kick but couldn't direct the ball on goal.
The last 24 minutes was loaded with action. McCormick benefited from a lucky deflection in the penalty area and had only substitute goalkeeper Dave Alexander to beat from 10 yards, but Alexander got out to make the block save. A half-cleared ball from the Bay Area end gave Howes the shot he wanted from 15 yards up the middle, but Alexander guessed the correct corner and was there for the save.
On a dangerous Bay Area counterattack, Jeffrey drew the defender and dished the ball left for an unmarked Baicher, but May charged out and blocked the shot away for a corner kick. On the corner kick play, Dayak was just over the bar with a strong header.
The fans wanted a penalty kick in the 74th when Sawatzky was flattened near the right top corner of the goal area. Sawatzky was on a full-speed, far-post run to head Gregor's cross from the left side. Sawatzky was charged from mostly behind and knocked down into a belly slide. While it seemed like a whistle was due, referee Mac Pinski was perhaps tempted into using the advantage clause, for with Sawatzky on the ground the ball went to Nguyen out wider for a shot with only Alexander to beat, but from a narrow angle. Nguyen's shot missed the far post and Bay Area had dodged a bullet. Quite a few "boo" missiles were launched at Pinski.
Seattle kept up the pressure. Steidten intercepted a Bay forward pass and tried from 40 yards, putting the shot on goal but with Alexander at home for the comfortable save. Sawatzky sprinted up the right on the attack and fed Nguyen, who dropped the ball for Howes, who was a yard high from 20.
85' Sawatzky (McCormick). Seattle's pressure paid dividends. Gregor's 35-yard free kick was rejected by the wall, but went right to McCormick (a.k.a. Dickie Maximus, according to announcer Sean Valley) on the left side. As McCormick sent in a long cross that sailed over the crowd and dropped to the right of the far post, Sawatzky sprinted around the crowd and met up with the cross. Sawatzky trapped the ball and beat Alexander with a low shot inside the far post. Seattle 2-1.
Bay Area tried a couple of long shots in the final minutes, but couldn't beat May. Tim Weaver tried from in front of the Sounders bench and May easily saved the floater. Jeffery's last-minute shot from the right touch line was caught overhead by May.
Final: Seattle 2 - 1 Bay Area
Referee: Mac Pinski; Asst Refs: Jeff Monnett, Mike Fox; 4th Official: Jon Young.