2003 Aug 17

Seattle Sounders  4 - 1  Indiana Blast
Seahawks Stadium, Seattle, WA

35' SEA - Velez (Gregor)
38' SEA - Velez (Farrell)

39' IND - Mesanovic (PK)
52' SEA - Callahan (Gregor)
65' SEA - Gomez (Levesque)

Seattle: Rich Cullen; Ryan Edwards, Kevin Sakuda, Scott Jenkins; Sean Henderson (Chad Brown 58'), Jason Farrell, Andrew Gregor, Viet Nguyen (Darren Sawatzky 78'), Sean-Michael Callahan (Craig Tomlinson 63'); Marco Velez (Herculez Gomez 61'), Kyle Smith (Roger Levesque 57'). Substitutes not used: Preston Burpo, Ben Somoza.

Indiana: Armando Femia; Justin McMillian, James Prosser (Mali Walton 61'), Jeff Samples, Ben Higginbotham; Semir Mesanovic, Chris Lemons, Godfrey Tenoff, Justin Lucas; Jeff Dresser (Jamar Beasley 37'), Michael Mucino (Geraldo Quiroz 78'). Substitutes not used: Matt Reiswerg, Moussa Dagnogo, Ari Dolegowski, Peter Baah.

Match report by Ron Stickney:

The Seattle Sounders clinched a playoff berth with a 4-1 home win over the Indiana Blast. Marco Velez was man of the match with a pair of nice goals to give the Sounders a 2-0 lead. A slight trip of Jamar Beasley gave Indiana a penalty kick, put away by Semir Mesanovic, and it was 2-1 at intermission. The Sounders put the match away with a goal each from Sean-Michael Callahan and Herculez Gomez. Andrew Gregor assisted the first and third goals.

Gomez' goal was his first while loaned to the Sounders, and it was assisted by another player on loan from MLS, Roger Levesque. Sean Henderson got the start to log his first minutes of the season after spending the earlier months on the injured list.

As this match finished, the Vancouver Whitecaps and the Portland Timbers kicked off up north, and they settled for a 1-1 draw. That result left the Sounders a point above the Whitecaps at the top of the division table. The result also clinched a playoff spot for the Sounders. While Portland can tie the Sounders in points, the Sounders did better in the head-to-head series with four wins and a loss, with one more POR-SEA match to be played tomorrow in Portland.

First Half

Indiana pressured early, forcing four saves on their first four shots, all from 25 to 30 yards out. The first shot, by Jeff Dresser in the 3rd minute, was the best, catching goalkeeper Rich Cullen headed to the near post and forcing him to dive back to the far post for a fingertip push wide and a corner kick. Mesanovic and Dresser had worthy efforts from 30 yards in the 19th and 24th, but Cullen was right where he needed to be.

Velez had the early chances for Seattle, sliding for a ball going over the end line and shooting it into the side netting in the 5th, and touching Callahan's cross past the goalkeeper in the 7th only to watch a defender clear the ball from the goalmouth. Gregor had a free kick from the top right corner of the penalty area, but the ball just caught the end of the wall.

Seattle forward Kyle Smith got a chance to half-volley a long free kick that landed near the penalty spot in the 21st, but the hard shot went a yard over the bar. In the 29th Smith pushed a ball ahead for Callahan on the left side, and his 15-yard shot forced the first save by Armando Femia. Ryan Edwards got a dirty look from referee David Simon after kicking the ball into the stands a yard after it went over the touch line.

35' Velez (Gregor). Gregor's perfect through ball sprung Velez from the center spot. Velez got to the ball a half step ahead of his marker, fought off a shoulder charge, and went in with only Femia to beat. Femia came out, and Velez put a shot inside the left post from about 15 yards. 1-0 Seattle.

38' Velez (Farrell). Just three minutes later Velez was sprung again, this time from the goal side of the center circle, with Jason Farrell feeding the ball forward. Again Velez muscled off a charge, and again he was in with only Femia to beat. Velez was a bit right of goal and put his 18-yard shot past the charging Femia and inside the right post. 2-0 Seattle.

39' Mesanovic (PK). Just a minute later an Indiana attack led to Beasley being served on a diagonal run through the middle 15 yards from goal. Pressure from Callahan was enough to force Beasley to play the ball too far, and Cullen would have collected the ball, but Callahan's attempted slide tackle missed the ball and tripped Beasley. Mesanovic shot the penalty kick with velocity inside the left post past the outstretched Cullen. 2-1 Seattle.

The last chance was another free kick by Gregor from the right side of the penalty area near the end line, and Gregor bounced it off the top of the bar near the far post.

Halftime: Seattle 2 - 1 Indiana

Your match reporter had a rare chance to play the ball two minutes into the second half when a ball was cleared sideways from Indiana's penalty area 5 rows deep into the stands. It was bending my way, and I managed to put my full beer, just purchased at the end of the intermission, down into the cup holder in time to head the ball back onto the pitch. Fortunately for the fans, better plays would be seen later in the half.

In the 51st Callahan's cross from the left gave Smith a chance on a far-post run as he slid in feet first to volley, but he couldn't quite reach enough of the ball to get it on goal.

52' Callahan (Gregor). Callahan was fed by Gregor on a well-timed run around the left side. Callahan turned 90 degrees and carried the ball to the center, 15 yards from goal, where he beat the charging Femia. Callahan had put Seattle back up by two. 3-1 Seattle.

Callahan tried for another in the 58th, clearing the bar by a half yard from near the left touch line ten yards from the flag. Viet Nguyen was open for a pass on the right side and served a perfect cross to the far post for Levesque, who volleyed well from 4 yards, but Femia made a point blank save to deny a goal.

65' Gomez (Levesque). After Craig Tomlinson won the ball deep in his penalty area defending on a set play, he fought off three challenges to break free up the left touch line. Tomlinson centered the ball for a wide open Levesque inside his own half. Levesque carried the ball into the circle and fed a through ball ahead for Gomez on a perfectly timed run. Gomez' speed put him well free of any defenders, and he had time to waltz to the center 15 yards from goal, wait for Femia to come out, and put a shot inside the left post. 4-1 Seattle.

In the 69th Levesque served a nice cross for Tomlinson on a far post run, and he blasted a shot from 5 yards that was unfortunately block saved by Femia's forehead or face. Femia rolled on the ground in obvious pain, and referee Simon whistled the play dead. After a few minutes of attention, Femia slowly got back up, dazed but apparently not bloodied, and he finished the match.

Indiana was game for a few more good chances. Justin Lucas fired a rocket from wide right, but Cullen was at the near post for the save at his midsection. A cross past the far post gave Beasley a header, but he couldn't keep it in bounds. Beasley looked to be sprung up the middle into the penalty area, but substitute Chad Brown stayed with him and made two consecutive slide tackles to win the ball cleanly. A loose ball near the right post was shot on goal, but a couple of defenders were there to block the attempt. Indiana's last chance was Mesanovic's 20-yard free kick, deflected a yard wide of the top near corner by a defender.

Seattle's last two chances were for Gomez, sprung up the left from the halfway line for an 18-yarder sent just wide of the far post, and Darren Sawatzky, sprung up the middle for a shot from 15 that Femia came out to successfully block.

Final: Seattle 4 - 1 Indiana

         Seattle  Indiana
Shots:      20       13
Saves:       5        5
Corners:     2        4
Fouls:      19       20
Offsides:    6        2

30' IND and SEA - Mucino and Henderson both cautioned for cleats-first challenges. Henderson slid in cleats first and missed the ball; Mucino avoided Henderson's challenge and got the ball, but came down cleats first on Henderson's hip. These yellow cards were sponsored by Primera Blue Cross, who want all players to leave the match healthy.
57' IND - Lucas cautioned for a late slide under Gregor at the touch line.

Referees: David Simon; Mohammed Zarrabi-Kashani, Josh Wilkins; Calin Znamirovschi.
Attendance: 3,150