Seattle: Hudock; James, Draguicevich, Watson; Jenkins, Barton, Aunger, Hoggan (81' Stoddard); Hattrup (70' Fry), Rodriguez, Gailey.
Colorado: Hernandez; Lipp, Saunders, Adams, Nunley; Tadlock, Pinto (77' Oakley), Lujan, Ashton; Siersbaek (59' Huber), Patterson.
Pinto (C), Draguicevich (S)
Shots: Seattle 14, Colorado 18
Saves: Hudock 5, Hernandez 2
Corners: Seattle 11, Colorado 2
Fouls: Seattle 7, Colorado 4
Offside: Seattle 7, Colorado 4
Referee: Sandy Hunt (she did an excellent job)
Soccer joy is back in Seattle. On a hot August Sunday afternoon, the Seattle Sounders blanked the Colorado Foxes 3-0. Two days earlier, the Sounders had defeated the Nashville Metros 2-0, ending a 7-game losing streak (4 of them nonleague matches). After waking up Friday morning with a single-point lead over three second place teams, including Colorado, in the A-League Pacific Division, the Sounders can sleep comfortably Sunday night with a 4-point lead over second-place Vancouver, and the Sounders have a game in hand.
In an experiment that paid dividends, Seattle employed an interesting 3-4-3 lineup, with Scott Jenkins and Kieran Barton making their first starts as midfielders (outside left and outside right, respectively), and Peter Hattrup playing as a forward with a license to travel. On an attack, Hattrup might be found standing on either touchline or in the middle.
Starting for Seattle were newcomers Oscar Draguicevich and Esmundo Rodriguez, both on loan from the MLS San Jose Clash. Both had played the previous night in San Jose's 1-1 CrapShootout win over the Columbus Crew, with Rodriguez replacing Draguicevich in the 85th minute. The 20-year-old Rodriguez just signed with San Jose as an MLS Project 40 player on Thursday Aug-7, so he made his first appearances for both San Jose and Seattle within a 24-hour period. Rodriguez has already logged two years of experience with Monterrey in Mexico, and he was a starter for the US national U-20 team at the World Youth Championships in Malaysia in June. Rodriguez played as a forward for Seattle. The veteran 27-year-old Draguicevich played as left back.
The Seattle defense contributed to all three goals. In front of the goal for a corner kick, right back Mark Watson scored first. Sweeper Bernie James sent the long pass into space that set up Rodriguez' cross, finished by Geoff Aunger for the second goal. Kieran Barton, moved up from the back to midfield for this game, notched the final.
Dusty Hudock tallied his club record 13th shutout in 1997 league play and lowered his league-leading goals against average to 0.61.
Seattle dominated for the first half hour. A Seattle corner kick in the 4th minute cleared the pack and was shot back in from the left by David Hoggan. Scott Jenkins, Geoff Aunger and Colorado goalkeeper Fernando Hernandez all converged on the waist-high ball by the near post. The ball went out off a Sounder for a goal kick and all three players collapsed to the ground after colliding. Time was stopped while the three recovered, with Hernandez seeming to have suffered the most.
Rodriguez showed his playmaking skills with a forward pass for a 20-yard shot by Mike Gailey, saved by a diving Hernandez. On the left side, Hattrup fed the overlapping Jenkins, who rolled a cross to Gailey for a near post shot that was saved by Hernandez.
21' Watson (Hoggan). After a broken corner kick play, Hoggan collected his own rebound on the left side and launched a far post cross that Watson chested down and shot into the ceiling of the net at the opposite post. This was Watson's first goal as a Sounder.
Rodriguez won a ball sent over the defense by Watson and took his first shot, hitting the outside of the net from the right. From Rodriguez' feed, Hattrup used his foot magic to dribble in 8 yards from the right post, but his shot was blocked by a defender.
33' Aunger (Rodriguez). Sweeper Bernie James intercepted a Colorado pass in the heart of Seattle's penalty area, took a good look at the field, and sent a long pass into space on the left for the speedy Rodriguez to run onto. Rodriguez drew the only Colorado defender in the area, then crossed to Aunger outside the top of the Colorado penalty area. Aunger beat the onrushing Hernandez with a sweet chip into the center of the goal to put Seattle up 2-0.
Colorado's first good shot of the game was a 35-yard free kick in the 35th minute, saved at the base of the far post by a diving Hudock for a Colorado corner kick. Near the end of the half, Chad Ashton's low blast from Stoner Tadlock's drop pass was saved by Hudock. Forward Steve Patterson got sandwiched by Watson and Barton as he tried to dribble into Seattle's penalty area and Patterson collapsed like a rag doll. After some magic spray for Patterson from the trainer, Colorado's free kick play was blocked by the rushing Rodriguez.
A Colorado corner kick was sent to the top of the area for Aaron Lujan, but his shot was well over the bar. For Seattle, Hoggan sent a 20-yard free kick a yard over the bar.
The other way, Tadlock's 25-yard blast from Ashton's drop was on goal, but curved into Hudock's breadbasket. Play continued to swing both ways through most of the second half.
75' Barton (unassisted). Barton collected a cleared ball on the right, dribbled a few steps into the penalty area and fired a low near post shot that the diving Hernandez got a piece of, but not enough of. Seattle 3-0.
A minute later Chance Fry, who had come on for Hattrup, tried a header from Barton's cross outside the area, and the shot was just over the top left corner.
Patterson set up a good Colorado chance when he headed a cross back to the other side of the goal for substitute Dan Huber, on for Carston Siersbaek, to run onto on the left. Huber's 10-yard shot was headed in at the near post, but Hudock slid in to block with his legs. James, lying on the ground, poked the rebound away from Huber, also on the ground, then Draguicevich beat an attacker to the sitter and cleared it over the touch line.
Patterson's free kick from just outside the area on the left was sent a yard wide of the far post.
In Seattle's last opportunity, Aunger beat a pair in the right corner and crossed for a Rodriguez volley shot, blocked by a defender.
Looking back at the 90 minutes of action, every Sounder on the field had played well. While newcomer Draguicevich doesn't appear much in the above account of the game, he impressed with his ability to determine where an airborne ball was going to come down, get there fast, stake his claim, fight off his challenger and win the ball.
Seattle's final two home games of the regular season are Friday 15 August against the Orange County Zodiac and Monday 18 August against the Minnesota Thunder. Watson and Aunger will miss the Friday game as Canada takes on Iran in a friendly, but they may be back for the Monday game.