Seattle: Hudock; James, Jenkins, Barton, Watson; Megson (86' J. Stoddard), Aunger, Hoggan, Hattrup; Gailey, Fry (64' McNiel).
Nashville: Dedini; Martinez, Raines, Rogaski, Ekeme (80' Cantero); Galloway, Berbari, M. Stoddard, Geltz; Dahlal (58' Mitchell), Smith.
Cautions: Watson (S), Hattrup (S)
Shots: Seattle 20, Nashville 6
Saves: Hudock 2, Dedini 5
Corners: Seattle 11, Nashville 2
Fouls: Seattle 12, Nashville 14
Offside: Seattle 1, Nashville 0
Referee: Oscar Meier
After a scoreless first half, the Seattle Sounders notched two excellent goals and blanked the Nashville Metros to retain a lock on first place. Player/coach Neil Megson got the Sounders fired up at halftime after a lackluster first half, then he walked the talk, assisting on both goals. Mike Gailey scored the first, his team-leading 11th goal of the season. Peter Hattrup scored the insurance goal, his first in league play since returning to the Sounders from MLS.
Goalkeeper Dusty Hudock earned his 12th shutout in league play, breaking Marcus Hahnemann's team record of 11 in the regular season, set last year. Hudock had more of a challenge from some awkward back passes from his defenders than he did from Nashville's attack. Hudock's two saves were both routine. Hudock leads the A-League with a goals against average of 0.64.
Rookie left fullback Scott Jenkins had another impressive game, frequently helping the attack with his overlapping runs and accurate crossing passes. In this reporter's book, Jenkins deserves strong consideration for A-League Rookie of the Year honors.
The game started out slowly, with Nashville's Samuel Ekeme taking the first decent shot of the game, driven a yard over the bar, at 15'. It would be his team's only good shot of the half.
Seattle's first good chance came at 25' when Megson headed just wide from a long throw-in. David Hoggan's long diagonal cross was just out of the reach of Gailey. Later, Gailey's left-footed 20-yarder was the only shot of the half that was on goal, but Randy Dedini was in position for the save.
The Sounders fans got the frights at 35' when a bouncing back pass from Bernie James had to be chested down by Hudock. Nashville got to the ball first and passed it forward, but Jenkins recovered to clear the ball for a throw-in.
Two minutes from halftime, Geoff Aunger's cross from the left was on Chance Fry's head 8 yards from goal as Fry beat his marker, but the shot was sent well wide of the target.
Fry beat a defender to earn Seattle's first shot of the new half, but his promising 15-yarder just missed the far post.
53' Gailey (Megson). On the right side, Hattrup spotted Megson well positioned 12 yards from the near post and passed to Megson's feet. Megson turned outside with the ball, drew Nashville keeper Dedini to the near post, and crossed on the ground when most would have taken the shot. Gailey came flying in to send a first-touch shot low inside the near post from 10 yards out. If Gailey had been late, Aunger would have been there a step away to take the shot.
In an interesting substitution, Seattle sent in defender Bryan McNiel for forward Chance Fry. McNiel took over at left back, Jenkins pushed up to left mid, Hoggan pushed in to center mid, and Aunger pushed up to forward.
Seattle kept up the offensive pressure. Hoggan's 20-yard free kick was saved at the far post. Aunger's fine cross was won by Gailey for a 10-yard shot, but Dedini blocked the first shot and saved Gailey's put-back of the rebound.
Nashville's Ekeme rolled a free kick sideways for a 25-yard blast by Andrew Galloway, but Hudock homed in on the curve ball and caught it.
78' Hattrup (Megson). Carrying the ball up the middle, Hattrup worked a give and go with Megson just outside the penalty area to beat the first defender. Hattrup chested down the ball to beat the second defender, faked left and rolled the ball back to beat a third, and used another feint to beat the final defender. Hattrup slid down to fire a low shot from 14 yards just inside the right post and put Seattle comfortably up 2-0.
Seattle continued to attack, ultimately outshooting Nashville 14-4 in the second half. From Hattrup's free kick near the left corner of the area, Hoggan shot low and saw his shot deflected just enough to miss the near post. In the final minute Gailey's 5-yard volley from a nice Jenkins cross just missed the top far corner.
Seattle next hosts third-place Colorado, 4 points back of the Sounders, on Sunday, August 10. Player/coach Megson will sit the game out due to the red card he received in the August 2 game when he complained obstreperously about the lack of a whistle when Chugger Adair was tripped from behind in the penalty area in the final minute of regulation. In a surprise move, forward Esmundo Rodriguez will suit up for the Sounders on loan from the MLS San Jose Clash, temporarily replacing Adair, who is recovering from surgery to repair a torn medial meniscus in his left knee.