2006 Aug 25

Seattle Sounders  1 - 0  Minnesota Thunder
Qwest Field, Seattle, WA

Seattle: Chris Eylander; Danny Jackson, Noah Merl, Jake Besagno; Kevin Sakuda (Zach Scott 60'), Leighton O'Brien, Andrew Gregor, CJ Klaas (Ben Somoza 74'), Roger Levesque; Maykel Galindo, Cam Weaver. Substitutes not used: Jimmy Ward, Seyi Abolaji, Nate Boyden, Jake Sagare, Jamal Sutton.

Minnesota: Joe Warren; Brett Branan, Alfredo Esteves, Chad Dombrowski (Brian Kallman 81'), Dustin Branan; Freddy Juarez, Godfrey Tenoff, Matt Schmidt, Terry Alvino (Ansu Toure 74'); Nate Knox, Leo Gibson. Substitutes not used: Nic Platter, Chris Brisson, Tyrone Gordon.

9' SEA: Gregor

Additional match reports: SounderCentral.com, Sounders, Seattle Times, Seattle P-I, King County Journal.

Match report by Ron Stickney:

The Seattle Sounders inched closer to qualifying for the playoffs with a 1-0 home win over the Minnesota Thunder. The lone goal came early, directly from an Andrew Gregor free kick, his second impressive goal in two matches. Chris Eylander had to make only one challenging save to earn the shutout, but that does not mean that Minnesota lacked chances. Credit the defenders along with the goalkeeper for this victory.

Maui native Zach Scott played the last half hour of this match after returning from a long stay on the injury list for just a minute of the previous match.

First Half

There wasn't a lot to write about in the first half, as Seattle managed only 4 shots and Minnesota just one, seconds before intermission. The first shot was from an Andrew Gregor free kick that missed, but he apparently got his boots calibrated on that shot.

Gregor 9'. A Seattle steal in the middle, 30 yards from Minnesota's goal, was passed short ahead to Maykel Galindo, who headed directly upstream and received a tactical foul. The ball was spotted 23 yards from goal and a bit to the right, in the left-footed Gregor's prime territory. Gregor's free kick was bent perfectly over the wall and into the top near corner, past goalkeeper Joe Warren's fingertips, and Warren was left to sit on the goal floor and think about it while Gregor turned and calmly walked back to Seattle's half. 1-0 Seattle from the second shot of the match.

In the 25th minute, a long release from Seattle goalkeeper Eylander was headed down nicely into the penalty area for an open shot by Galindo, a wormburner sent towards the far corner, and Warren did well to snare it for the first save of the match.

The 28th saw the first yellow card of the match, issued to Minnesota's Leo Gibson for tripping fast-moving Roger Levesque from fully behind at the halfway line. Gibson would eventually be shown a second yellow, hurting Minnesota's chances for a late equalizer.

Seattle's last shot of the first half came at 35' when Gregor tried a quick shot from 25 yards, but it was a couple of yards too high.

Minnesota came close to several chances in the last half of the first half when crosses seemed to elude Sounders defenders and find a Minnesota attacker near the penalty spot, but every time it seemed that sweeper Danny Jackson or one of his mates was there to immediately block or prevent the shot, and nothing came close. Finally, in added time seconds before the halftime whistle, Minnesota managed a good shot when Terry Alvino chose to fire from 20 yards instead of serving another ball into the penalty area, and it took a sideways leaping parry by Eylander to prevent the ball from finding net. It was the only shot credited to Minnesota in the half.

Halftime: Seattle 1-0 Minnesota

The second half saw the Sounders create several golden opportunities for themselves and a few for the Thunder, but nobody could finish. The first chance was for Minnesota in the 57th, when a Sounders giveaway at the corner of their penalty area led to a cross to an open Gibson for a header, but the attempt to loop it over Eylander was tracked down by Eylander.

Seattle had a chance 2 minutes later when a quick free kick by Leighton O'Brien found Roger Levesque open on the far side, and Levesque's dangerous header into the goal area was headed over the bar nicely by a defender. On the corner kick, Gregor hit the near post solidly and the ball rebounded into play out of reach of an attacker.

In the 64th a broken Minnesota free kick play led to a soft 20-yard shot by Brett Branan, but he bounced it easily to Eylander.

Seattle came very close in the 65th when Weaver broke free on the left to dribble at Warren and cross to the far post from 8 yards away, but Weaver put too much pace on it and Galindo reached the ball just before the ball reached the post, and Galindo's shot slammed squarely into the post, and Galindo's foot hit the post on the follow-through, leaving him to limp off for a few minutes. Meanwhile, the rebound off the post went right to an open CJ Klaas 15 yards from the goal, but with time to aim it Klaas blasted it a yard or two over the bar.

Seattle's Gregor was issued a yellow card for delay in the 71st minute, his 8th yellow of the season. He will have to sit out the next two matches on suspension along with O'Brien for the same reason.

The next chance was Seattle's in the 72nd, when Galindo was free to romp in on Warren after his marker failed to win an air ball. Galindo drew Warren out and tried to round him 8 yards from goal, but Warren just managed to pull the ball off Galindo's foot and kill the opportunity.

In the 74th for Minnesota Chad Dombrowski won an air ball sent to the far side to head on goal, but Eylander comfortably saved overhead.

Minnesota's chances took a turn south at 77' when Gibson earned a yellow/red for kicking Seattle's Cam Weaver in the gut challenging for an air ball cleanly won by Weaver. Minnesota failed to earn a good shot the rest of the way. Substitute Ansu Toure tried a quick shot from 35 yards when nothing else was developing, but he skied it.

Seattle had another golden opportunity in the 81st when Galindo cut away from his marker on a run up the middle and earned a shot from 15, but Warren went down for a nice leg save. The rebound gave the onrushing Levesque a chance to head it into an open net from 20 yards, but the shot missed wide by a yard.

An even better chance for Seattle came at 84' when Galindo held the ball on the left, then sped by his marker to the end line to roll a beautiful drop pass on the 45 degree angle in front of goal for the onrushing Gregor, but Gregor missed the open goal from 8 yards when it looked like it would have been easier to hit it. Gregor was seen apologizing to Galindo for that miss.

Seattle's last chance came in the 88th when O'Brien's 25-yard free kick was tipped over the bar by Warren.

In added time Minnesota had half a chance when a ball was served into a messy crowd just inside the penalty area, but Eylander was there to nicely punch the ball clear of danger.

Final: Seattle 1-0 Minnesota

           Seattle   Minnesota
Shots:       13         6
Saves:        3         3
Corners:      7         0
Fouls:       24        18
Offsides:     3         3

28' MIN: Gibson cautioned for tripping Levesque from behind
33' SEA: Galindo cautioned for tripping
69' MIN: B Branan cautioned for a tactical foul on Weaver just outside the box
71' SEA: Gregor cautioned for delay
77' MIN: Gibson cautioned for kicking Weaver in the gut challenging for an air ball and sent off for his second caution
78' MIN: Dombrowski cautioned for a harsh foul
85' SEA: Besagno cautioned for a foul 25 yards from Seattle's goal
90' MIN: Schmidt cautioned

Referees: Miguel Chicas; Scott Lawrence, Josh Wilkens; Manuel Soledad

Attendance: 2,686