The Sounders executed a ferocious attacking style of play commanded by first year head coach Neil Megson. Led by the heady play of veterans Fry, Dick McCormick, Bernie James, Doug Morrill and new addition Tom Bialek, loaned from the NPSL's Harrisburg Heat, Megson's strategy to play a fast-break, attacking style took the host team by surprise.
After a scoreless first half, Kobe struck first with an 18-yard blast by Takahara Jinno in the 60th minute. Seven minutes later, Fry then evened the score with a brilliant header off a cross from rookie draft pick Nate Daligcon. Seattle's game winner came just four minutes later off the deflection of a McCormick corner which Fry volleyed home from nine yards out.
1995 A-League Goalkeeper-of-the-Year, Marcus Hahnemann, stopped 15 shots and made two spectacular point-blank saves. "This match was a real challenge," said an excited Megson. "We lost four players to MLS, so I'm having to rebuild a bit, but we worked extremely hard for each other and it all came together nicely."
Going into tonight's match, Kobe was undefeated over its past seven matches dating back to the November 3-2 loss at the hands of the Sounders in Seattle's Kobe Relief Fund soccer match that raised $20,000 to aid Kobe's efforts following the devastating January 1995 earthquake. Reportedly, Vissel Kobe ownership had placed so much emphasis on this contest, that Kobe head coach Stuart Baxter's position hung in the balance pending the final outcome. "Seattle had more heart, plain and simple," a dejected Baxter commented after the match. "Seattle is a team that will give everything - they will not lay down - and they were very quick when they had to recover."
This match was billed as the first Pacific Rim Tour marking the beginning of efforts to bring the inaugural Pacific Rim Cup to Seattle. Interested nations include China, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore and Australia. The city of Kobe, as part of its continuing post-earthquake morale-boosting efforts, sold no tickets for the match, granting free admission for anyone wishing to attend.
Coach Megson summed up the Sounders' trip: "This was a great event for us, for American soccer and especially for the people of Kobe, who have done so well to recover from the earthquake. We tip our hats to them."
Goals: Jinno, Vissel Kobe (60:30); Fry, Seattle (67:02 - Daligcon assist); Fry, Seattle (81:08) Shots: Seattle 12, VK 13 Saves: Seattle 14, VK 8 Offsides: Seattle 4, VK 0 Fouls: Seattle 15, VK 5 Corners: Seattle 4, VK 4 Free-Kicks: Seattle 1, VK 9 Caution: Seattle 2 (James 44:00, Morrill 79:00)Starting line-up: