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   2003 Sep 12

Playoffs, 2nd round, 1st leg:

Seattle Sounders  0 - 1  Minnesota Thunder
Seahawks Stadium, Seattle, WA

Goals:
79' MIN - Shak (Anderson)

Seattle: Rich Cullen; Zach Scott, Ryan Edwards, Scott Jenkins; Chad Brown, Jason Farrell, Sean-Michael Callahan (Darren Sawatzky 66'), Andrew Gregor (Kevin Sakuda 46', Craig Tomlinson 80'), Viet Nguyen (Kyle Smith 83'); Marco Velez (Herculez Gomez 76'), Roger Levesque. Substitutes not used: Preston Burpo, Ben Somoza.

Minnesota: Joe Warren; Dustin Branan, Mark Schulte, Adam Eyre, Steve Shak; Don Gramenz, Jason Willan (Amos Magee 75'), Kevin Anderson (Melvin Tarley 80'), Marco Ferruzzi (Hugo Llamas 69'); Johnny Torres (Johnny Menyongar 63'), Marshall Morehead. Substitutes not used: Brad Swenby, Alvin Hudson, Zafer Kilickan.


Match report by Ron Stickney:

In the first match of the Western Conference championship series, the Seattle Sounders fell 0-1 to the visiting Minnesota Thunder. The lone goal was scored in the second half by Steve Shak, who headed in a corner kick. Seattle had quite a few near goals, but Joe Warren came up with big saves each time to earn the shutout. Warren was clearly the man of the match.

The one-goal advantage gives puts Minnesota in the driver's seat for the second leg, to be played two days later.

First Half

Seattle had all of the good chances through the 37th minute. In the 11th, Ryan Edwards headed Andrew Gregor's corner kick a yard wide of the far post from in close. After Seattle stole the ball in Minnesota's end, Viet Nguyen's cross from the right to the near post was redirected on goal by Marco Velez from a yard away, but a defender was there to block the shot and the ball went out off the post. In the 25th, Roger Levesque was sprung from 40 yards out by Gregor's through ball and took the ball into the penalty area, pulled it back to let his marker run by, and fired a low shot at the right corner, but Warren dove for his first great save of the night, pushing it wide for a corner. In the 37th, Chad Brown's square pass left gave Gregor a running shot from the top of the penalty area, but he missed an open lower far corner.

Minnesota's first good shot came in the 38th, when Marshall Morehead got open between two defenders for an air cross from Jason Willan, and from 6 yards out the header flashed just wide of the far post. Shak overlapping on the right was open for a shot, but he bent it the wrong way and it went through the goal area.

Halftime: Seattle 0 - 0 Minnesota

After 17 minutes with no chances either way, Seattle found their offense again. Brown headed a drop pass to Levesque for a hard shot from the top of the arc, but it went right into Warren's midsection. Levesque beat his marker to win a ball served into the right side of the area, then held the ball before dropping a diagonal pass for Kevin Sakuda, and the shot from the arc was saved by a diving Warren.

The 70th minute saw a quick three-shot barrage from Seattle that came close on all three shots, but the post rejected one and Warren made spectacular saves on the other two. It happened so fast that we're not sure about who shot, but as we recall Darren Sawatzky shot first and forced a save, then either Levesque or Edwards headed one that came back off the post, and the return shot was saved for a corner kick.

Minnesota found their offense in the 71st, with substitute Johnny Menyongar getting served by a long cross to the penalty spot and shooting to the lower left corner, and Cullen was quickly there for the save.

Seattle came back with a good chance when Edwards' long ball put Levesque free on the right for a shot from 15 yards, but Warren went down to block it and Velez couldn't trap the rebound in front of the goal area.

79' Shak (Anderson). After passing the ball around the penalty area, Menyongar got in close for a shot from a steep angle on the right, and Cullen did well to push it over the top near corner and onto the roof for a corner. But Kevin Anderson's corner kick set Shak up for a nice header 6 yards out from the near post and he put it straight in. 1-0 Minnesota.

Despite putting in some fresh forwards, Seattle couldn't threaten until the 89th minute, when Levesque was fouled for a free kick on the right, 25 yards from goal. But Jason Farrell wasted the opportunity, missing the top near corner by yards.

Final: Seattle 0 - 1 Minnesota

Statistics:
         Seattle   Minnesota
Shots:      16        11
Saves:       3         7
Corners:     5         4
Fouls:      23        18
Offsides:    2         3

Misconduct:
9' SEA - Gregor cautioned for a foul at the halfway line after the ball was gone.
53' SEA - Scott cautioned for what he said after the ball went out for a Minnesota corner kick.
57' SEA - Jenkins cautioned for an unintentional but reckless foul 35 yards from goal.
59' SEA - Brown cautioned for sliding under a Minnesota defender near the Minnesota penalty area.
69' MIN - Willan cautioned for tripping Nguyen from behind.

Referees: Ricardo Valenzuela; Jeff Hosking, Mike Fox; David Simon
Attendance: 3,190