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   2011 Feb 10

Crew outwork Sounders FC to win 120-minute training match

Preseason training match:
Columbus Crew  3 - 0  Seattle Sounders FC
Westside Soccer Complex, Phoenix, AZ

Goals:
20' CBS: Andres Mendoza (Emilio Renteria)
106' CBS: SEA own goal (Zach Scott)
108' CBS: Jeff Cunningham

Columbus: Ray Burse (Will Hesmer 45', Alex Riggs 74'); Shaun Francis (Josh Williams 60', Cory Elenio 109'), Chad Marshall (Alex Fraga 65'), Rich Balchan (Andi Iro 60'), Sebastian Miranda (Ben Sippola 60'); Dilly Duka (Bernardo Anor 60', Andy Adlard 98'), Kevin Burns (Jeff Cunningham 60'), Emmanuel Ekpo (Dejan Rusmir 60'), Robbie Rogers (Leandre Griffit 60'); Emilio Renteria (Justin Meram 60', Eric Gehrig 110'), Andrews Mendoza (Cole Grossman 30', Santiago Prim 79').

Seattle: Kasey Keller (Bryan Meredith 45', Josh Ford 90'); Leo Gonzalez (Danny Earls 45', Michael Tetteh 90'), Patrick Ianni (Tyson Wahl 65'), Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (Jeff Parke 45', Leone Cruz 90'), James Riley (Zach Scott 65'); Steve Zakuani (Lamar Neagle 65'), Osvaldo Alonso (Servando Carrasco 65'), Brad Evans (Erik Friberg 45', Jonathan Prieto 90'), Alvaro Fernandez (Roger Levesque 45', Seedy Bah 90'); Fredy Montero (David Estrada 65'), O'Brian White (Mike Fucito 45', Miguel Montaño 90').


Match report from Sounders FC:

The Sounders FC and their supporters got their first glimpse of the 2011 schedule on Thursday. On the field against the Columbus Crew in a training game at Westside Soccer Complex, the team showed they were still in preseason form as they prepare to undertake the 34-match MLS regular season.

"It was definitely a preseason game," said Roger Levesque, who has played right back and right midfield in training games. "It's a learning process and the result didn't go our way and that's something to be disappointed about. The goal is to be ready for that first game against LA and it looks like we still have some work to do."

After two 45-minute periods, the Crew held a 1-0 lead off of a 19th minute goal by Andres Mendoza, but in the final, 30-minute period the Crew got two more in rapid succession to take the final tally, 3-0.

The game was not without opportunities for Seattle, but they appeared to lack the spark to overtake the Crew.

Fredy Montero took a shot from distance in the first period, but it went right into the chest of Columbus keeper Ray Burse. Brad Evans also had one header go wide and another defended away.

However, Mendoza's 19th minute goal proved the difference in that 45-minute period. He got into some space on the right side at the top of the box and popped a shot to the far post. Kasey Keller got his fingertips to it, but not enough to prevent it from going inside the far post for the 1-0 lead.

"If you ask the guys who played in the first unit, they will say they weren't happy with their play," head coach Sigi Schmid said. "I think we gave up a soft goal and we didn't create enough chances up front. I thought we were a little bit stagnant in the first group."

The second period saw a little more enthusiasm from the Sounders.

Erik Friberg swung an early corner kick in to Roger Levesque at the right post, but his flicking header attempt went high for a goal kick.

Mike Fucito also had a well-struck ball in the 29th minute, but it went wide and the Sounders continued to trail.

On the other end of the field, rookie goalkeeper Bryan Meredith was impressive with some saves, diving to stop an Emilio Renteria shot in the 16th minute and leaping to stop another shot in the 27th minute. Josh Ford also made two quick-reaction at the start of the third period, stopping an initial shot from Justin Meram, then pouncing on the put-back attempt.

However, Jeff Cunningham, the active leading scorer in MLS, proved the difference in the final period.

In the 17th minute, the veteran forward pushed the ball forward up the middle. Zach Scott and Leone Cruz converged on him right as Ford came out to stop Cunningham and Scott deflected the ball into the net for an own-goal to give Columbus the 2-0 lead.

One minute later, Cunningham knocked in a loose ball off a Columbus corner kick and gave the Crew the 3-0 advantage that held over the final 12 minutes.

It was the first defeat of the preseason for the Sounders FC (1-1-1). They conclude the Arizona portion of their preseason with a match against Chivas USA on Saturday at Grande Sports World in Casa Grande, Arizona.

"We'll take it on the chin and learn from it and move on. We definitely have a long way to go," defender James Riley said. "It comes down to effort. We'll look to bring a lot of energy and end the trip on a high note. As long as we are able to learn from this game and eradicate those mistakes in the next game, we'll be fine."

Misconduct:
None


Postmatch Quotes

Seattle Sounders FC

Sigi Schmid - Head Coach

On the training game: "Every time you play you see something different, you learn some more about yourself. Results aren't as important in preseason. You always want to get a result if you can but teams are at different stages. When you look at the results so far we beat Vancouver, Vancouver beats Columbus, Columbus beats us. It all gets rigamaroled around. But for us we were able obviously to get some guys on the park and to get a couple of guys in different positions. We wanted to see Neagle wide. We wanted to see how different combinations looked together, how White and Montero looked up front. We wanted to see how Fucito and Montero looked. Fucito and Estrada was probably our most dangerous combination up front. Some guys got some plus points, some guys got some minus points today and as a team it gives us a better picture of what we’ve got to continue to work on, get a little quicker with the ball and our movement off the ball has to be better."

On going forward: "We are still in preseason so what I need to see from the team is obviously I have got to see some fighting power when they come back on Saturday, that little bit of desire, that, 'Hey, the result didn't go the way we wanted it to go,' so I need to see that from them. But we are continuing to build fitness as well so we are going to continue to do that also."

On the first unit giving him what he's looking for: "No, no to be very honest. I think that if you ask them, if you asked the guys who played in the first unit they would say they weren't happy with their play. I think we gave up a soft goal. A goal where you would have to let the guy run offside or we got to do better in terms of making the save. I also thought we didn't create enough chances up front, so I thought we were a little bit stagnant in that first group. It was good to see [Hurtado] play because I thought he was probably our best player, so he did well. I think if you ask those guys they would be the first, I would be disappointed if they didn't admit that they didn't play well."

On the final period: "The last 30 we put some guys in who are a little more inexperienced in the back and Jeff Cunningham is a veteran player so he can take advantage of that. The game I thought in the second 45 I thought we had more of the game. We had more chances. We were close a couple times but didn't get a goal, and even the first 10, 15 minutes of the last period I thought we were OK. The last 10, 15 minutes of the last period we didn't play well and they capitalized and scored goals."


Match report from MLS:

The Crew's 3-0 scrimmage win over Seattle on Thursday in Arizona equaled the club's offensive output during its first two games, but that wasn't the story – it was goalkeeper William Hesmer making his first appearance of the preseason and playing 30 minutes just a day after his first full-contact practice.

Hesmer fractured his right shoulder on Oct. 24 and had been limited to non-diving drills until Wednesday.

"I was a little apprehensive," Hesmer said after the match. "There's only way to go after it and we decided playing was the best option."

His goal is to be ready for the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal vs. Real Salt Lake on Feb. 22.

"It's reasonable," Hesmer said. "You can't make it heal any faster than your body will allow. It's about time. All the muscles around it pretty much shut down for a couple of months."

Crew president Mark McCullers was pleased with what he saw, especially considering backup Andy Gruenebaum has yet to train this year because of hip and groin problems. He is expected to get medical clearance to start next week.

"[Hesmer] had to deal with a couple of corners," McCullers said. "It looked like he got real comfortable real quick."

Hesmer said he isn't sure if he will play the remaining two games in Arizona on Monday and Feb. 18.

"It's getting those muscles to start firing again and hopefully not aggravate it too much in the process," he said. "We'll be smart and push as far as my body will push it."

The Crew went ahead 1-0 on a goal by Andres Mendoza in the 20th off a pass from Emilio Renteria. Mendoza played his first game after recovering from the flu.

Jeff Cunningham forced an own-goal in the final of four 30-minute sessions and later added a score.

"Our first group was really sharp," McCullers said. "The legs were a little bit lighter as opposed to Vancouver [a 2-1 loss] on Tuesday."

Rich Balchan, the Crew's first pick in the 2011 SuperDraft, impressed his boss at center back.

"He's athletic," McCullers said. "He chased down Steve Zakuani on a ball that was probably a 50-yard sprint. He was literally step for step."


Running blog from Sounders FC (with minor editing):

Welcome to Westside Soccer Complex in Phoenix, Arizona, where the Sounders FC will face the Columbus Crew beginning in about 10 minutes.
Sounders FC Lineup: Kasey Keller, James Riley, Patrick Ianni, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez, Alvaro Fernandez, Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Steve Zakuani, Fredy Montero and O'Brian White.
We will be playing three periods again today. 45, 45 and 30. We will also be using Nike balls as Columbus is prepping for a Champions League meeting with Real Salt Lake.
It's a beautiful sunny morning in Phoenix - in the low-mid 60s.
Nkufo hasn't gone full in training yet. He's recovering from a calf strain.
Crew lineup: Ray Burse, Sebastian Miranda, Chad Marshall, Rich Balchan, Shaun Francis, Robbie Rogers, Kevin Burns, Emmanuel Ekpo, Dilly Duka, Emilio Renteria, Andrews Mendoza.
The game is under way and in the opening moments Brad Evans is elbowed in the mouth.
3: O'Brian White goes wide for Steve Zakuani, but his cross to the middle is headed clear by Chad Marshall.
5: Emmanuel Ekpo shoots from the right side of the box, but Kasey Keller makes the snag.
No seats ... Standing room only, I guess you could say. We've got about 35 fans here.
7: Emilio Renteria gets away for a shot on the left side and Kasey Keller makes the stop.
10: Dilly Duka tries to get around Osvaldo Alonso, but Alonso stops him dead in his tracks and turns the ball the other way.
12: Columbus gets some pressure into the box, but great team defense by Seattle wins them possession.
14: Tremendous tackle by Jhon Kennedy Hurtado stops an impending Columbus attack.
14: Fredy Montero shoots from distance, but right into the chest of Ray Burse, who makes the save.
Still 0-0 at Westside Soccer Complex.
16: Robbie Rogers gets into the right corner, but Leo Gonzalez pokes it away from him for a corner kick.
19: Andres Mendoza gets some space and shoots from the top of the box. Kasey Keller gets his fingers to it, but not enough to push it off frame and it goes inside the left post for a goal. Crew 1, Sounders FC 0.
25: Brad Evans with a touch-pass to O'Brian White, but the Columbus centerbacks close in on him and take back possession.
29: Columbus gets the ball into the box on a cross, but Brad Evans goes to the ground to knock it clear.
30: Cole Grossman subs on for Andres Mendoza.
32: Seattle sends in a cross from the right side, but it goes wide for a goal kick.
Possession has been a pretty even split ... but I am sitting on Seattle's defensive end, so I'm able to see that a lot easier.
36: Robbie Rogers sends a free kick in from the right side, but Chad Marshall's header is knocked away by the defense.
37: Alvaro Fernandez gets out on a run on the right side, but is knocked to the ground and the ball goes away for a goal kick.
Sounders FC majority owner Joe Roth is on hand watching the game today.
39: Brad Evans gets on the right end of a James Riley cross, but the header fell short and the Crew defense cleared it.
41: Emilio Renteria takes a wild shot from 20 yards out that goes high for a goal kick.
43: James Riley crosses for Fredy Montero, but the defense holds him off and the ball is played back to the keeper.
44: Dilly Duka gets into the box, but his shot goes high for a goal kick.
There's the end of the first period. Crew 1, Sounders FC 0.

Sounders are in the green training tops with shale shorts and green socks.
Columbus is in yellow training tops with black shorts and yellow socks.
A few subs for Seattle - Jeff Parke, Mike Fucito, Erik Friberg, Danny Earls and Roger Levesque are in.
Sounders lineup: Bryan Meredith, Riley, Jeff Parke, Ianni, Danny Earls, Roger Levesque, Alonso, Erik Friberg, Zakuani, Montero, Mike Fucito.
Will Hesmer is in net for Columbus now too.
2: Seattle earns a corner kick. Erik Friberg sends it in from the right corner and Roger Levesque gets a head on it, but it goes high for a goal kick.
Roger is at right mid today.
5: Erik Friberg pushes the ball wide for Steve Zakuani, but his shot is deflected away for a corner kick.
5: Osvaldo Alonso takes the corner kick and it bounces around in the box before it falls to Erik Friberg on the far side. He passes off to Patrick Ianni, but his left-footed attempt is deflected into the air and grabbed by Will Hesmer.
6: Great lob pass by Osvaldo Alonso into the box finds Steve Zakuani, but the defense pinches in and turns it the other way.
Along with Hesmer, Kwaka Nyamekye is in at right back for Columbus.
15: Friberg drops a ball outside to Levesque for a cross, but it is headed away before Montero can get to it.
16: Emilio Renteria gets a header, but Bryan Meredith makes the diving save at the post.
We've got subs. .. Seattle's lineup: Meredith, Zach Scott, Parke, Tyson Wahl, Earls, Levesque, Servando Carrasco, Friberg, Lamar Neagle, Fucito, David Estrada.
For Columbus: Hesmer, Josh Williams, Andi Iro, Alex Fraga, Ben Sippola, Leandre Griffit, Dejan Rusmik, Grossman, Bernardo Anor, Justin Meram and Jeff Cunningham.
23: Ball played forward for Jeff Cunningham, but Bryan Meredith charges off his line to smother the ball. Great play by the rookie.
25: Roger Levesque turns the corner, but his cross attempt from the end line is knocked away for a corner kick.
27: Mike Fucito takes the corner kick from the right side, but Will Hesmer steps out and grabs it out of the air.
27: Another save by Meredith, this time leaping high for a ball headed toward the corner of the net.
29: Mike Fucito turns his defender in the box and takes a left-footed strike, but it misses just outside the near post for a goal kick.
30: Alex Riggs comes in for Will Hesmer.
42: Erik Friberg knocks it into the box, but the sizable center backs keep it away from David Estrada and Mike Fucito.
45: Mike Fucito holds off his defender and turns on a shot, but misses outside the far post for a goal kick.
There's the final whistle for the second period. Still just 1-0 Columbus. 1 more 30-minute period to go.

Final period lineup for Seattle: Josh Ford, Scott, Leone Cruz, Wahl, Michael Tetteh, Seedy Bah, Carrasco, Jonathan Prieto, Miguel Montano, Neagle, Estrada.
5: Jonathan Prieto turns on a half-volley from 25 yards out but misses wide for a goal kick.
10: Justin Meram gets a shot off from close range and Josh Ford makes the stop. Columbus converges on the rebound and Ford makes the grab.
13: Santiago Prim gets a shot in traffic, but Michael Tetteh defends it away for a corner kick.
15: Jonathan Prieto takes a free kick from 35 yards out, but it's headed clear in the box.
17: Jeff Cunningham pushes after a ball up the middle and Leone Cruz and Zach Scott converge on him right as Josh Ford comes out and Scott defelects it in for an own goal. Crew 2, Sounders FC 0.
18: Jeff Cunningham gets on the right end of a corner kick and knocks it home for the goal inside the far post. Crew 3, Sounders FC 0.
24: Lamar Neagle gets trampled in the box going after a header.
25: Jeff Cunningham gets away and tries to chip Josh Ford, but Ford makes the high save.
28: Jeff Cunningham carries it up the left side of the box, but his ball into the middle is cleared by Leone Cruz.
29: Seattle plays a ball into the box, but Alex Riggs makes the grab.
There's the final whistle on the third period.