2010 Apr 17

Fucito miracle delivers a last-minute Sounders win over the Wizards

Seattle Sounders FC  1 - 0  Kansas City Wizards

Qwest Field, Seattle, WA

90' SEA: Mike Fucito (Brad Evans)

Seattle: Kasey Keller; Leo Gonzalez, Tyrone Marshall, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, James Riley; Steve Zakuani (Mike Fucito 85'), Osvaldo Alonso, Peter Vagenas, Pat Noonan (Brad Evans 70'); Freddie Ljungberg (Patrick Ianni 90'), Fredy Montero. Substitutes not used: Terry Boss, Tyson Wahl, Nathan Sturgis, Sanna Nyassi.

Kansas City: Jimmy Nielsen; Michael Harrington, Jimmy Conrad (Matt Besler 32'), Pablo Escobar, Roger Espinoza; Davy Arnaud, Stephane Auvray, Jack Jewsbury, Ryan Smith; Kei Kamara (Chance Myers 90'), Josh Wolff (Teal Bunbury 82'). Substitutes not used: Eric Kronberg, Birahim Diop, Santiago Hirsig, Craig Rocastle.

Match report from Ron Stickney:

Most of the four minutes of added time was gone when rookie Mike Fucito delivered a goal from a quick throw-in to give the Seattle Sounders FC a 1-0 win over the Kansas City Wizards. It was the first league loss of the season for the Wizards, who opened 2010 with two home wins.

First Half

After conceding an early corner kick to the Wizards, it was Seattle with the first shots. Steve Zakuani earned the first shot from just inside the penalty area and forced a save at the lower near corner. At 10' James Riley's overlapping run past Fredy Montero let him cross from the end line to give Pat Noonan a great look 8 yards from the far post, but his shot went wide. At 14' Montero was near the far post for a quick shot from a nice cross from Noonan, but Jimmy Nielsen made a fine, one-handed save.

The air game was quite punishing this match. The first pair to bang heads in the air was Tyrone Marshall and Stephane Auvray 18 minutes in. Later in the half James Riley and Kei Kamara would leave for a few minutes after banging heads on a KC corner kick.

Seattle were not whistled for a foul until the half hour mark, and the first foul earned a yellow card for Riley for getting Kamara in the ankle.

At 39' it had been a while since either side created a scoring chance, and Seattle gave KC one with a bad backpass. It led to Ryan Smith attacking with the ball near the center of the penalty area, but just as he was about to shoot Jhon Kennedy Hurtado saved the day with a sliding tackle to put the ball out for a corner.

Second Half

Zakuani had two chances in the first four minutes of the second half, both from getting the ball on the left wing. The first time his attempted cross settled on the roof. Then, after beating his marker, Zakuani found himself with only goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen to beat but the shot missed the far post by two yards.

On a counterattack, Davy Arnaud was sprung up the middle for a chance inside the box, but Keller hustled out to block the shot wide for a corner.

The Sounders had an excellent free kick chance at 53' after Montero was pulled down 25 yards from goal. Freddie Ljungberg barely missed the top near corner with the shot.

For the Wizards, Arnaud was found open in the middle 25 yards from goal for a shot, but he missed the target by yards. He had beaten the Sounders with a rocket from that distance a year earlier.

At 58' it was Kansas City with an excellent free kick chance 25 yards from goal, but Pablo Escobar banged the shot off the center of the wall.

An hour into the match it seemed like both sides ran out of offensive ideas. For most of the match Kansas City pressured the Sounders defense in their own end, and that seemed to make it hard for Seattle to set up attacks. Looking for fresh ideas, the Sounders sent in Brad Evans at 70' to replace Noonan and Fucito at 85' to replace Zakuani. The moves payed dividends.

90' SEA: Fucito (Evans). The goal came from Seattle's two substitutes. Evans took a Seattle throw-in quickly, sending the ball at goal after spotting Fucito's run. The Kansas City defenders were caught napping, as Fucito raced into open space in front of the near post and fired a first-touch shot past Nielsen, beating him inside the near post. 1-0 Seattle.

With just a minute or two left in the match, Seattle's defense was caught napping just as badly on the kickoff play as substitute Chance Myers was open on the right with no defender in the same zip code. Myers had a shot from the same distance and angle as Fucito did, but the shot at the far post was well saved by Kasey Keller, who got his hand on just enough of the ball to deflect it a few inches wide of the post. On the resulting corner kick, Jack Jewsbury headed a shot wide of the goal and it was the last chance.

          SEA    KC
Shots:      7    9
Saves:      2    2
Corners:    2    9
Fouls:      8   13
Offsides:   3    0

29' SEA: Riley cautioned for for getting Kamara in the ankle
37' SEA: Zakuani cautioned for dissent, complaining about a foul called on him
72' KC: Auvray cautioned for delaying a restart
90' SEA: Evans cautioned for holding

Referees: Jair Marrufo; Thomas Supple, Kevin Stott; Paul Ward

Attendance: 35,924

Postmatch Quotes

Seattle Sounders FC

Sigi Schmid - Sounders FC Head Coach

General Comments: "I'm happy with the win. I'll always take a win. Mike Fucito works hard in training and he battles. He was alert and made a good run behind the defense. He hit it and didn't take extra touches, which we sometimes do in the box. It felt good to win on a late goal. We played better than we did in Salt Lake, but still not up to standards we set for ourselves."

On Mike Fucito: "He has a never say die attitude. Sometimes that's what you need on the field. Sometimes you can die with beauty and sometimes you can succeed with simplicity."

On Brad Evans: "It has been a tough week for brad. He take things pretty personal and pretty deep. He was still carrying a lot of responsibility in the early part of the week. Peter Vagenas does a lot for us on the field and he talks a lot on the field, so he makes people around him better. For sure, Brad is not out of our plans and he showed that by contributing on the goal."

On control of tempo: "We needed to get some energy in the game. We had good chances in the first half that we could have scored on. I thought before the substitution for Brad, they had control for 10 minutes. Bringing him in changed our energy."

On referees: "It was an interesting game from the referees standpoint. I see it both ways. I can't say anything on the offsides call on Freddie. There are some calls that I'm far away from, so I'm sure he got them right. There were others that I didn't fully understand. It was an interesting game."

On Kansas City near goal at end: "We almost fell asleep there for a second. I actually wanted to get the sub on before the kickoff and the fourth official was dragging his feet. I think Mike was in a state of euphoria still and didn't get back on the left side on defense. I think he'll be in that state for the next 72 hours."

On bloody jerseys: "We've called Adidas and asked for a new shipment of jerseys because we're running out."

On offense: "We're trying to be varied in our attack and have different people pop up in different places. We stay up too high sometimes as a front four. Sometimes we become stagnant, need to be flexible and variable in our attack."

James Riley

On physical game: "It's just guys challenging hard for the ball, and that's going to happen. Obviously we put a lot of emphasis on this game because we didn't want to lose two consecutively at home. There was a bit of urgency on our part. Wasn't the prettiest again, we're still trying to tweak it out. The best thing is last week we put ourselves in contention to win it. This week you see Fucito steps in and had a great goal. And defensively we kept it at zero fortunately and come away with the win. Obviously we have to work on and build on, and we know that."

On defensive effort: "To be honest, they've always been a good team. I think they're always solid. They have Jewsbury and Arnaud. Wolfy is always good. Ryan Smith is good. Kei Kamara. So that attacking five is pretty good. Obviously we just tried to contain them, keep them in front of us. Don't let them really get behind. Make it predictable for guys. And there was a lot of help. Obviously I think Ryan Smith is a very talented player and I had a lot of help with guys talking and coming on the inside. That just helped out. It was a good team effort defensively all the way around."

Stoppage time amplify wins and losses: "Absolutely. Any soccer player knows those are critical moments. Obviously the way you start the game, the first 5-10 minutes, the way you begin a half, the way you end a half, the way you end a game. Those 5-10 minutes are always critical moments. We focus at those times. Unfortunately off the kickoff they almost equalized. That would have been an absolute dagger. I don't think anyone would have been able to sleep for a week. Fortunately Kasey comes up with a massive save. But like I said, there's things we have to work on and we'll do that.

On the collision with Kamara: "It's something that happens. I just wanted to stay calm when it first happened, kind of assess things. The trainers were able to get out there right away. And so that was good. Any time there's blood and a head injury, there's concern. It's part of the game. I know Kei. He's a good friend of mine and I know there wasn't any intent. He's going to go for the ball and I'm going to go for the ball and that's what happens sometimes."

Brad Evans

On goal: "We had eye contact and he made a good run. It was easy from there for him."

On almost goal by Kansas City: "We score in the 90th minute and they almost scored in the 91st. It's a matter of concentration. It's a great save by Kasey. Sometimes, I'm sure you'll hear tonight, Kasey will have to make one or two saves a game to keep us in it. Teams are going to get chances and it doesn't matter if it's the first minute or the 91st minute. But at that time, he makes a save, but at the same time, it should never happen. It should never happen."

On win creating momentum: "It's very, very important. We got three points now, we carry it over. And we go into Dallas, it will be a good game on ESPN, so you know we're looking forward to that one. And then we'll make a good trip up to Toronto, they've got grass now. We'll feel confident playing there and glad to be playing on grass."

On past week: "Tough. The first couple days were tough. For me, I took things pretty hard. But a couple days talking to other players on other teams, our coaching staff, Chris Henderson, I had a good long talk with him as well. But everybody has confidence in everybody here, that's why it's a team. It's not an individual sport. With these guys it's easy to rebound from something like that."

Does this help?: "For sure. For sure. I thought I came on and made a good contribution. Put forth the effort and that's the most important thing. Whether it's coming off the bench or starting, whatever way I can contribute, that's what I'm going to do. I want three points, that's all."

Surprised he was able to get that open?: "Yeah, for sure. They're desperate to hang on to at least a point away from home in the 90th minute. He's a meaty guy and he's quick. It's tough to keep a hold of him. What I saw was he checked away, his defender looked - kinda like the goal last week against Salt Lake against us - his defender looked, by the time he looked back the ball was already in play and he's gone. And it's a split-second thing that changes a game. Hats off to him for sure for a great run and an awesome finish."

On injury: "I got crushed. I don't know what that guy was doing. He just crushed me in the back. Maybe a stinger or something. He knocked the breath out of me, but it's fine."

Freddie Ljungberg

Thoughts on the game: "Of course it feels great to win it. I've said it before, Fucito is a guy that's worked really hard for a year, and I was really happy when he came on the other game. He's a guy that works hard. I'm happy for him, extremely happy. I told him (enjoy) this now and feel the happiness and the sweetness, because you worked hard for a year for this. He deserves that."

On how the game was played: "It was a tactical game, but - how should I put this so it doesn't come out the wrong way - there were some big plays in the game that we didn't get. There were two offsides we weren't happy with - I haven't seen the replay yet...and on the free kick when Tyrone could have headed it in and they pulled him down. That's a PK and then maybe we win the game easily. Those are big call, they get missed, but now we forget about it. Otherwise maybe I would have been angry after the game...I'm just happy for Fucito. It's great for him."

Any concern over not playing your best?: "When you look at Kansas City, they were well organized. I thought they had a game plan they were going for and they did it well. They cramp in and made it tough for us. Maybe sometimes we have to be calmer and keep it more. We're trying to get better and better, and they changed around their team totally from last season and we didn't know what to expect. Now we know and hopefully we'll be better next time."

Important to get a win before heading on the road for two?: "Yeah, it's extremely important, but I feel we almost play better - we didn't play great in Salt Lake - when people attack us a bit more and we have more space up front. We're almost more dangerous when we play away from home, so personally I feel it's almost more fun to play away because we have more space and create more. I think we won in Toronto last year, and I was sick in Dallas, but we got a draw, so hopefully we can get some good results."

On possession today: "We kept the ball a bit better today. That's something we talked about the whole week. That was quite poor in Salt Lake and it's something we have to work on. The way I learned to play is that if you have the ball, the opponent can't score, so that's a big deal. We worked on it today, it was better today, but it still can get better."

Michael Fucito

On the goal: "As far as the goal, I just remember in film, on throw-ins Sigi just always wants someone to stretch, and I saw Brad had the ball and I just ran through trying to stretch them and no one was with me. He made a great throw right in my path, I turned and I was one-on-one with the goalie. I just hit it and finished it well. It was unbelievable."

Any thought of a touch before the shot?: "No. I think at that point, I saw I was one-on-one and I figured someone was going to be right on my back, so I just turned and hit it."

Emotions after?: "Pure joy. That's the best feeling in the world, scoring a goal. I'm glad it was at such an opportune time. I just want to thank the coaches for putting me in and giving me a shot and believing in my game. My teammates for their support too."

Scoring today vs. in a reserves game?: "It's complete different. The games matter now. For it to be a winning goal means that much more. I'm just glad I could finally contribute."

KC almost scoring right after?: "That was bad, but Kasey made a great save and kept us in the game like he always does."

Vagenas asking Fucito questions sarcastically: "How did they not see you? Were you hiding under the end line? Did they think you were a mascot who got loose on the field?": "I was so low I could blend in with the grass I guess (laughs)."

Kasey Keller

Breakdown after goal: "We just thought the game was over, I think, or were a little slow to react. It was a good play by them, and I was just happy I was able to make the save because it would obviously be a totally different atmosphere right now if we would have conceded there. Its all part of that learning curve, because I thought for the most part we did very well on concentrating: on not letting easy throw ins, on not letting easy free kicks. It would have been a shame to let it down there. The guys fought really well all game. I was really proud of the determination. Extremely proud for Mikey. He really came into preseason with something to prove, and he's done a great job. Its always nice to be rewarded for doing as well as he has. Its a big moment for him."

On K.C. final shot, who took it?: "I dont know. I think Davy Arnaud got the ball in and kind of played it through. I can't remember. I was watching the ball, I wasn't looking at who the guy was. I was just happy to be able to help the guys out and come up with a save because they fought extremely well the whole game."

Predicted a stoppage time goal: "I did say that. Like I said, things have a funny way of equalizing themselves out not necessarily the next game. I'm just very proud. Very proud of the guys and happy that our fans could go home happy because that just makes a big, big difference in this locker room right now, having scored the winner in injury time as opposed to conceding the tying goal. Now we have a nice funky week coming up with the Thursday-Sunday. I'm just going to go home and relax and get ready for Thursday."

Peter Vagenas

On struggles in run of play: "We were awful. I don't think we were very good at all, and that's to be honest. I think that's something that I've been trying to preach, I know the coaching staff has been trying to preach that we need to judge ourselves based on performance and not necessarily results. Its easy to walk away from here and be excited about three points, but at the end of the day if we play like that, we are not going to make the playoffs in this league. That being said, its a defining fact that we stayed into it and we continued to battle and continued to fight. Its frustrating when you're out there and you're trying to make things go right and you work all week to make things go right and they're not going right, its tough mentally and physically to stay into it, and that's where we excelled tonight. We didn't play well in any facet of the game, I don't think. But fortunately Fucito came in and made a heads-up play and then Kasey saved one at the end. We walk away with three points, but by no means, I don't think is anyone patting himself on the back, because the performance was not there and at the end of the day this team is going to go as far as its performance. Wins and losses come, but we need to find a way to play better."

On starting: "Individually in that sense its good to be part of the 11, because you train all week and there are guys who are sitting in the stands, there are guys that are sitting on the bench, who are giving as much as I do and want to be out there just the same. I was fortunate to be chosen this week and to be part of a win. Again, I emphasize and this is something I emphasized with the group: Lets not pat ourselves on the back because if we lose four out of five games if we play like that. Its important that we continue to find ways to develop our game, because its not easy. Last year was great. We couldn't put a foot wrong last year: coaches, players, I mean it was remarkable. But I think we've been humbled here early on. Were not sneaking up on anybody. Teams know what its like to come in here they're not intimidated. Thankfully our teams continue to stay behind us. And I can't emphasize that enough, because its frustrating for us and I'm sure it is for them when they're not necessarily seeing the product that they want to see. But they have to sort of judge us sometimes on our effort because sometimes it just doesn't go. Today for me from the footballing point of view it just didn't go. Credit to our defense, credit to Kasey, credit to everyone for continuing to battle and find heart because I think we won a lot of 50-50 balls, we were good in the air, and that's something that necessarily we're not good at but tonight we find a way to battle."

Kansas City Wizards

Birahim Diop

On his thoughts on the match and the season overall: "I thought for the most part we played pretty well. We really limited them and didn't give them a lot of chances, the attitude and approach from our team was right. We came out to play our game and win the game. The lapse in concentration in the 93rd minutes means we walk out of here with nothing, which is really disappointing because I thought we deserved something."

Davy Arnaud

On almost scoring a goal in the 94th minute: "We were obviously trying to do whatever we could to get a goal. Kasey Keller made a very good save; it's just really disappointing we gave up a goal really late in the match. It puts a damper on what we did over the 90 minutes."

Head Coach Peter Vermes

On his impressions of the match: "We performed extremely well in the game today; we didn't come here to sit back. It was obvious we came to play and they did everything they needed to come away with three, let alone one, now one. It is disappointing in the preparation and execution of the guys to not come away with something out of this game. It is definitely a good lesson for us moving forward."

On his team coming back and almost scoring a goal at the end: "Heads up to our guys for going very quickly and trying to get one on the other side. Kasey Keller came up with a great save there. We were not giving up there which is a great mentality for our team. To give up a goal there is a tough thing and it is something we will learn from."

On his team coming out with a fast start on the season: "We have a very solid group of guys that come to play. I know there are teams that try to sit back and bunker in which most teams try to do on the road; that is not our style. We came to play and I think it's a credit to the players we have."