Seattle Sounders 3 - 0 New York Fever (halftime 1 - 0) Niall Thompson (S) 32' Farrell (S) 74' Jason Dunn (S) 84'
New York: Peter Zaratin, Carlos Llamosa (72' Mark Shearer), Mariano Belen, Joe Mortarulo, Chris Szanto, Dimitri Tam, Lee Tschantret, Cordt Weinstein, Mike Saunders, Luther Boulin, Roger Chavez.
Shots: Seattle 16, New York 11
Saves: Hahnemann 2, Dutra 3; Zaratin 4
Offside: Seattle 8, New York 3
Fouls: Seattle 7, New York 6
Corner Kicks: Seattle 5, New York 1
Cautions: 26' Seattle: Leonetti (for a retaliation foul after being pulled down)
Referee: Oscar Myre
The Ron Stickney Account®:
The Seattle Sounders clinched a playoff spot with a convincing 3-0 victory over the visiting New York Fever. Niall Thompson scored in the first half and the two Jasons, Farrell and Dunn, added insurance goals in the second half.
Teenager Justin Stoddard played most of the game after defender Bernie James limped off the field injured in the 30th minute. Stoddard showed good defensive skills, making some strong tackles against veteran opponents. He played at left back when he entered the game, and in the second half switched to left mid.
Backup goalkeeper Tom Dutra made his first appearance of the season, playing the last 5 minutes and making two great saves to preserve the shutout, matching Marcus Hahnemann's save count for the night.
Seattle's early shots included a 30-yarder by James Dunn from a cleared cross, wide right, and Morrill's shot from the left touch line, which Peter Zaratin leaped to push away from the top left corner after cheating in favor of the expected cross.
For New York, Luther Boulin's rising 25-yarder rose a bit too much. Later Coulin crossed a promising ball for Roger Chavez out from the far post, but Marcus Hahnemann came out and leaped to catch the ball above the 5'5" Chavez. the 215 pound Hahnemann came down on top of the 140 pound Chavez and flattened him, dazing him, but Chavez appeared to be fine after a few minutes of stoppage. No foul on the collision, as both players were going for a 50-50 ball.
Seattle got an excellent chance midway through the half when a ball chipped over the offside line put Thompson in with only the keeper to beat, but Thompson failed to execute a feint when he needed to and Zaratin came out to easily block Thompson's shot.
At the other end, Wade Webber's sliding ball tackle took away Chavez' chance after he had broken through the defense in the area.
New York nearly made Seattle pay for a defensive mistake at 29' when a through ball for Boulin at the right edge of the penalty area could have been cleared by sweeper Bernie James, but James chose to let Hahnemann, way out from the goal, go for the ball. Boulin got a foot on the ball as Hahnemann tried to grab it and the ball squirted toward the corner flag. Boulin retrieved the ball and dropped it diagonally for Lee Tschantret to shoot at the empty net, however Seattle defender Billy Crook got there just in time to deflect the shot out for a corner kick. Bernie James was injured on the play and limped off to the locker room as Stoddard replaced him, Stoddard to left back and Crook shifting to sweeper.
Two minutes later Seattle scored the match's first goal on a busted free kick play. David Hoggan's free kick shot from the right side hit the wall and came back to him, and his cross was a beauty, well finished by Naill Thompson, who went head and shoulders above the rest to head the ball down into the goal from two yards out.
In the final minute of the first half, Mike Saunders wasted New York's best chance of the game when he shot over from the 6-yard line after Boulin deflected a rolling cross to him.
New York got the best chances early in the second half as Chavez shot over the bar and Mariano Belen beat Jason Farrell at the right touch line, dribbled into the area, and fired a 20-yard rocket just over Hahnemann's head that Hahnemann could only block with his arms for the save, the ball falling to a Seattle defender.
Seattle's Thompson got caught offside when a ball deflected in front of the goal for him to quickly knock into the net. Most of the crowd cheered, but not those of us astute enough to notice the assistant referee's flag pointed skyward, and correctly so.
At 74' Hoggan's corner kick earned him his second assist of the night when Farrell, unmarked 10 yards out from the far post, headed the corner kick low into the goal.
In the 82nd minute, Thompson received an excellent cross to his head from each of the Dunn brothers inside a minute, James crossing from the right, but headed wide, and Jason crossing from the left, headed over.
At 84' Jason Dunn finished the evening's scoring when he sprinted past the defense with a ball served to him on the left side by Thompson, placing the shot low and inside the far post.