Vancouver 86ers 0 - 1 Seattle Sounders 40' Earl (S) Vancouver: Dolan; Skinner (Scigliano 78), Berg, Macdonald, Sumner, Kusch, Clarke, Dalrymple (Kindell 45), Heald (Muirhead 73), Jordan, Franks. Seattle: Hudock; McNeil (Daligcon 51), Jenkins, Aunger, James, Earl, Watson, Crothers, Adair, Andrade Tafolle (Gailey 77), Hoggan. Cautions: Macdonald 60 (dissent after routine foul), Daligcon 74 (late challenge), Crothers 80 (foul when his man had gotten past), Scigliano 90 (complaining about time-wasting). Attendance: 4,119
From Ken Butler:
It is strange how two teams, barely recognizable from the line-ups of previous seasons, should play a game to such a familiar script. The short version of the report, as so often in the past between these two sides, reads: 86ers had the better of the first half and gave up a bad goal at a bad time, then completely dominated the second half without being able to find a goal.
The game began in low-key fashion, with both sides struggling to hold on to the ball for long, let alone do anything with it. It took thirteen minutes for any kind of a shot at goal, when Crothers' 25-yard free kick deflected conveniently for Dolan, and the play ranged from scrappy downwards. The home side had somewhat the better of happenings in the opening half-hour, which is not saying very much. Finally, in the 33rd minute, an 86er long corner from the left seemed to have gone over everybody, but the ball was flicked back in and found its way to Skinner on the edge of the box. Taking one touch to control, he put in a shot that Hudock needed to tip over.
A couple of minutes later, the home side might have had another chance. Skinner, at the back post, went up for a right-wing cross, and was caught high (as in shoulder level or above) by a flying defender's boot. It seemed a clear penalty, but the referee somehow found an indirect free kick to award, which came to nothing when the ball was tapped to Berg to shoot off the wall. So it remained scoreless, but the 86ers looked ready to take control of the game, even with defence that looked suspect at times when the Sounders came forward. And, with five minutes to go to the break, a misplaced pass at the back came to a Sounder foot, and the ball was relayed to Adair on the right, onside because the last defender, though out of the play, was playing him on. Adair worked along the by-line, looked up and chipped the ball to an unmarked Earl, who couldn't do much but head the ball into the net. While the home side responded with a Kusch header, wide, from a right-wing corner, that was that for the first half.
The second half was an entirely different story, and an entirely more compelling spectacle. Right from the kick-off, it was clear that the home side were ready to show more coherence and imagination, while the visitors seemed quite happy with the score as it stood, and as a result, the rest of the game was a catalogue of 86er chances. The first, after a flowing move, came when Kindell took a nice through pass on the left, might have crossed first time, but decided to cut it back to Clarke, whose shot was just over. After this, a loose ball in the box was put wide by Jordan, and then a cross from the left came to Kusch, whose first-time lob went wide.
Near the hour mark, the Sounders had literally their only on-target shot of the half, when Andrade's header from a corner left Dolan a comfortable diving save. But play soon went back to the other end. Jordan, 30 yards out, beat his man with a nice piece of skill, but somehow failed to win a free kick as he was stopped from going by. Then Heald's tempting cross from the left was headed out to Kindell, who controlled and chipped wide. And then one that should have been a goal: Jordan used his pace to get away on the right and fire in a cross that Kusch couldn't control cleanly, but he helped it along to Kindell, who had plenty of time to pick his spot, but chose the keeper's midriff.
It was becoming a tale of many chances, but few good efforts on target. Kusch got his head on a right-wing cross but again found Hudock right behind the header, and then a sustained spell of pressure brought several consecutive corners but only one good chance, Kusch's low shot into a crowd eventually being cleared. The big forward, who showed both his considerable promise and a certain (understandable) lack of experience in this game, had a couple more chances as time wore down: a looping header, wide, from the far post after a Heald cross, and a crisp but errantly high shot from the edge of the box as the ball fell to him.
The game ended with some unwanted Seattle time-wasting near the corner flag, in which no attempt was made to move the ball. The referee, however, chose only to caution Scigliano for complaining about it.
So, a disappointing result for the home fans, but the 86ers' play in the second half showed a good deal of style, leaving plenty of room for optimism for the season as a whole.
The most annoying feature of the night, however, was the announcer. I know this is North America and all, but I do not go to a game to be (a) shouted at, (b) exhorted to "make some noise", (c) have canned applause played at me, (d) have *any* music played at me, (e) told (loudly) that the 86ers have won a corner (what, you think I can't *see* that?). What I expect the announcer to do, *in a normal voice*, is to name all the players (including the subs) of both teams before the game, with their positions, announce cautions and substitutions as they happen during the game, and take care of the (unfortunate but necessary) sponsors' messages and prize draws *during breaks in play*. That's all. It's not difficult.
I wanted the 86ers to get one goal tonight, for obvious reasons, but also because the team picture given out before the game was on a sheet of paper of just the right size to write "Shootouts Suck!" on the back. :-)
I'll be back at Swangard, optimistic for a win against the new-to-the-A-league Orange County team, on April 30th. I'll also be there three days earlier, when Canada play Jamaica, but I'm less sure how optimistic to be about that...