Seattle Sounders 2 - 1 Bay Area
Memorial Stadium, Seattle
5 BAY - White (Thompson)
26 SEA - Waibel (Howes)
45 SEA - Nguyen (Howes)
Seattle: Bill May; Ali John Utush, Craig Waibel, Kieran Barton, Scott Jenkins, Tim Steidten; Dick McCormick, Andrew Gregor; Viet Nguyen (Sean Henderson 85), Greg Howes (Craig Tomlinson 90), Darren Sawatzky.
Bay Area: Jon Conway; Troy Dayak, Tim Martin, Jason Clark (Steve Chirgwin 85); Tim Weaver, Jeremy Sweet, Jeff Baicher, Ryan Edwards (Simon Weiss 74), Marquis White; Kevin Jeffrey, Niall Thompson.
In a first-round playoff match, the Seattle Sounders knocked out the Bay Area Seals by a score of 2-1. Bay Area came to play, looking confident before the match and looking even more confident after Marquis White scored just five minutes in. But Seattle fought back with a goal from Craig Waibel midway in the half, then in the final minute of the first half Viet Nguyen scored what proved to be the match winner. An evenly played second half was dominated by the defenses.
The Sounders advance to the second round to play a 2-match series with the Milwaukee Rampage.
Preceding the kickoff was a ceremony to announce the retirement at the end of the season for Bernie James, who is claimed to currently be the oldest active professional soccer player in North America.
The first minute saw Darren Sawatzky, Seattle's leading scorer against the Seals this year, through near the right goalpost for a good chance, but he was tugged on as he shot and goalkeeper Jon Conway made the save at the near post. Referee Cory Dean allowed play to continue, refusing to grant a marginal penalty kick. The next minute gave Andrew Gregor a 30-yard shot from the left, sent several yards high.
5' White (Thompson). On a Bay Area attack, Niall Thompson served a diagonal pass ahead and to the left side for an open Marquis White, who beat his marker Ali John Utush and goalkeeper Bill May with a shot inside the far post from 15 yards. Bay Area had taken the 1-0 lead on their first shot.
Seattle's Tim Steidten, overlapping from his right outside back position, was pulled down in the penalty area, but again it wasn't serious enough for Dean to punish. Scott Jenkins, up from the left outside back position, sent in a headed shot/cross from the left, but Conway hauled it in.
Goal scorer White tried to return the favor, crossing for Thompson 5 yards out from the far post, but Thompson's pressured shot was weakly struck and saved by May.
Sawatzky had another good chance from a corner kick that was headed back across the goal mouth but his volley in tight quarters was sent just wide of the near post.
In the 21st, Bay Area turned a 30-yard free kick into a clever attempt as Thompson lifted the ball head high and Jeff Baicher trapped it and fired a bullet at the lower far corner, forcing a diving block save by May.
26' Waibel (Howes). Viet Nguyen's corner kick from the left side went to Greg Howes just beyond the far post, and Howes headed it back towards the opposite post, where Waibel rose above the crowd to head it into the top left corner. It was a new match at 1-1.
After Seattle's Dick McCormick was fouled four consecutive times before losing possession, the whistle sounded and Howes blasted the 35-yard free kick over the bar.
Jeremy Sweet tried a couple of power shots for the Seals, the first a 20-yarder that was blocked by May and cleared over the end line by Waibel, and the second a blast from the 18-yard line that was too high.
Seattle turned up the pressure in the final five minutes of the half. McCormick was fed ahead for a close chance near the right post that was aimed high, pushed wide by Conway. Howes struck a 35-yard free kick nicely and it was over Conway's head and diving under the bar, but Conway managed to slap the stinger up and over.
45' Nguyen (Howes). Sawatzky's attack from close on the right was deflected towards the left corner. Howes tracked the loose ball down near the left edge of the penalty area and rolled a crisp cross to Nguyen, 12 yards out from the near post, and Nguyen ripped a shot into the back of the net head high and inside the near post. Seattle 2-1. It was Nguyen's best shot ever for the Sounders, and he celebrated by whipping off his shirt and waving it in circles over his head, then he jumped on Ali John Utush's back for a ride while the home crowd voiced their approval of the turn in events.
Halftime: Seattle 2 - 1 Bay Area
An evenly played second half was dominated by the defenses, with each side managing just six shots. Seattle soon had the first chance when Nguyen's quick throw-in gave Howes an opportunity with one marker to beat, and Howes cut back to earn the shot but sent it well wide of the far post.
Bay Area's talented Kevin Jeffrey held the ball in the right side of the penalty area and then either dove or was tripped by Waibel, but again it didn't exceed Dean's threshold for a PK.
After three yellow cards and no good scoring chances either way for 15 minutes, Jeffrey twice dropped the ball to give Baicher chances, a 30-yard blast up the middle that May flew to catch, and a 20-yard near poster that May pushed wide.
Seattle's Howes pushed the ball ahead for Sawatzky on the left, whose 10-yard shot was blocked by Conway and cleared out for a corner kick by a defender.
Jeffrey got a 30-yard shot from a broken Bay Area corner kick play but was way high with the attempt.
When Conway came all the way out to the 18 to punch away a cross, Steidten's long put-back looped high and a few yards over the vacant goal.
Bay Area earned two shots in the final few minutes after a 13-minute offensive drought. A long, hard shot by Tim Martin forced a diving save by May, who had to scramble to gather the rebound. In added time, White volleyed a shot from the left at a tough angle, but fired way high.
Final: Seattle 2 - 1 Bay Area
44 Sweet (BAY) cautioned for tripping Nguyen.
48 Jenkins (SEA) cautioned for tripping Edwards.
55 Jeffrey (BAY) cautioned for chopping Gregor down from behind.
57 Waibel (SEA) cautioned for pulling down Jeffrey.
79 Steidten (SEA) cautioned for running over White from behind.
Referee: Cory Dean; Asst. Refs: Dean Ajir, Jayson Trandstrum; 4th Official: Fred Mabbott.