Vancouver Eighty-Sixers 3 - 0 Seattle Sounders
Mobilio (V) 63
Berg (V) 70
C. Clarke (V) 86
Vancouver: Shepherd; Franks, Sumner, Skinner, MacDonald; Berg, Dalrymple, Dailly (74' I. Clarke), Heald (74' Jordan); Kindel, Mobilio (81' C. Clarke).
Seattle: Hudock; James, Jenkins, McNiel (46' Hattrup), Barton; Kinoshita, Figueroa, Hoggan, Gutierrez (64' Gelvezon); Rodriguez (56' Gailey), Storkson (78' Fry).
Cautions: Gutierrez (S), Dalrymple (V), Barton (S), Figueroa (S)
Shots: Van 19, Sea 6
Saves: Shepherd 4; Hudock 6
Corners: Van 14, Sea 1
Fouls: Van 19, Sea 28
Offside: Van 2, Sea 3
Referee: Rene Perott
The Vancouver Eighty-Sixers dominated the visiting Seattle Sounders in the opening leg of the A-League playoff quarterfinal series. After a scoreless first half, the 86ers tallied goals from Domenic Mobelio, Nico Berg and Chris Clarke, the latter's goal assisted by a corner kick from brother Ian Clarke. The margin of victory was surprising, considering that five previous matches between these two teams this year had all been decided by a single goal, Seattle taking three of the five.
Pressure on Seattle's goal started in the 3rd minute when Craig Dalrymple headed Chris Franks' cross on goal, easily saved by Dusty Hudock. Seattle's first chance came from a 40-yard free kick, but Gutierrez' shot was well wide.
From a free kick play, Berg tried a 25-yarder but missed the target wide left. From Mobilio's cross, Paul Dailly left the ball for Oliver Heald, whose 15-yarder was well over. Dailly's chip cross to the spot was poorly cleared and sat on the 18-yard line for Dalrymple, who shot well over the bar.
A lot of players were slipping on the long, wet grass, and most of them wore Sounders' jerseys.
Midway in the half, Heald juked McNiel to earn a cross from the goal line, chest-trapped by Steve Kindel at the 18 and fired a yard over. A deflected clearance in Seattle's penalty area turned in to a 12-yard shot in front of the goal for Richie Sumner. Hudock made a diving save, stopping the ball at the goal line. Berg's 25-yard prayer shot was sent over the bar.
Seattle's only good shot of the game came when Erik Storkson passed sideways to Vicente Figueroa, who bent in a backwards volley toward the top far corner, but Vancouver keeper Paul Shepherd backpedaled to pluck it from the air.
Kindel took Vancouver's last shot of the half when he was open after Bryan McNiel slipped and fell. Kindel blasted his shot just over the top right corner. At the half, Vancouver had outshot Seattle 10-3, but the scoreboard was all zeroes.
Trying for more shots, Seattle coach Neil Megson switched from a 4-4-2 lineup to a 3-5-2 by replacing defender McNiel with midfielder Peter Hattrup. But the tactic would prove unsuccessful, as the weakened defense gave Vancouver better chances, while Seattle would get only three shots in the half.
Early in the half, Heald stole the ball and took a shot from a steep angle on the right, but Hudock dove to save the far-post shot. Storkson came right back the other way and sent in a 20-yarder on goal, but Shepherd saved easily.
63' Mobilio (Dalrymple). Dalrymple collected a poor Seattle clearance at the halfway line and launched a counter attack, carrying the ball then passing ahead to Mobilio who was open on the left. Mobilio beat Jenkins to go in alone against Hudock, then beat the onrushing Hudock with a low shot to give Vancouver the 1-0 lead.
Mobilio tried again 4 minutes later, heading Dalrymple's cross from the penalty spot, but missing just wide of the far post.
70' Berg (Heald). Heald's 30-yard free kick from the left was headed in at the near post by Berg, giving Vancouver a 2-0 lead.
For Seattle, David Hoggan got a brief look at the goal from the 18, but sent in a slow roller to the keeper. Hattrup dribbled to the goal line to earn a cross, which was cleared out by Sumner for a corner kick, although nearly an own goal.
Chris Clarke replaced Mobilio and soon dribbled in on the right to earn a shot, saved by Hudock at the near post.
86' C. Clarke (I. Clarke). The Clarke brothers teamed up for Vancouver's final goal. Ian's corner kick from the right went past the far post and was shot in low by brother Chris, giving Vancouver a 3-0 victory.
This was a game that promised to be a typical, close fought, end to end battle between two of the league's oldest and fiercest rivals. But if that was the game's promise then it surely lied, for what we saw instead was a one-sided match which the Sounders will soon want to forget and which 86ers fans should fondly remember for years to come.
The 86ers began to press from the outset and in the opening minutes fashioned a good chance when Franks beat his man down the right and crossed to Dalrymple whose long header was easily saved by Hudock. The 86ers continued to buzz around the Sounder's penalty box, sending in some dangerous crosses as well as a trio of long off-target shots from Berg, Heald and Dalrymple.
Seattle started to come more into the play after the 86ers opening flurry, but couldn't mount a consistent attack. By the midway point of the half the Sixers were back in control and throwing everything at the Sounders' defence.
Dailly made one of many great runs down the right, beating Figueroa and James before whipping in a wicked cross which was barely headed clear from right in front. Then a moment later, Heald put on a clinic down the left side of the penalty area, twisting and turning before leaving his marker for dead. He coolly strolled towards goal along the endline before cutting it back to Kindel who chested the ball down and fired high from the top of the box.
The constant 86ers pressure had the Sounders defence rattled and they were making some uncharacteristic mistakes, like when Barton threw the ball back to his keeper under pressure, seeming to forget that Hudock couldn't pick it up. Hudock squibbed his clearance, the ball almost falling first to Kindel and then to Mobilio before being scrambled clear.
The Sixers kept pouring it on. One lengthy sequence of throw-ins down the left finally saw Heald flick it on to Mobilio who couldn't turn and shoot. Hoggan's clearance then hit Mobilio, blooped high into the air and came to MacDonald who got off a good header that Hudock barely got down in time to stop. Lesser chances followed with Berg shooting high and then Kindel sending a weak long range effort into the keeper's arms.
At the other end, Seattle's only real chance came when Storkson controlled the ball at the top of the box and laid it off to Figueroa. He was quickly closed down and could do no better than a looping backwards volley over his head which Shepherd caught comfortably.
The best opportunity of the half came late, and not surprisingly fell to Vancouver. MacDonald looped a great diagonal ball to Kindel in the box and he controlled it well and cut inside McNeil who fell. Jenkins who was the next nearest defender also slipped and so the young Vancouver striker had time and space to tee up his shot. In the end though he probably had too much time and curled it just over the top corner with Hudock at full stretch. Heald had a similar chance minutes later, latching on to a pass from Dalrymple, but Figueroa did very well to get back and steal the ball before Heald could shoot.
Amazingly it was scoreless at half-time. The 86ers had totally dominated but had nothing to show for their efforts. The Sounders seemed content to sit back and soak up the pressure, and they were certainly doing a good job of it. But the 86ers still had a trump card up their sleeves -- a red hot striker who had yet to register a shot. Give Mobilio half a chance and the game could turn in an instant.
The second half opened quickly with some end to end play. A poorly cleared cross fell to Dalrymple and he surged down the right side of the Sounders penalty box before firing in a cross which a diving Hudock did well to hold. On the counter, Storkson tried his luck from well out but Shepherd was equal to it.
The 86ers continued to apply pressure, and the Sounders defence got off lucky when Kindel broke clear of Barton only to be dragged down from behind to prevent a break-away. Barton escaped with only a yellow card, and Heald fired the free kick over the bar.
In the 62nd minute though the Sounders luck run out, and it was Domenic Mobilio who cashed in the chips. Dalrymple made a good run through midfield and held the ball long enough for Mobilio to pull wide of Jenkins. Dalrymple fed the perfect pass and Domenic took the ball neatly in his stride and broke in behind the Sounders defence. He took it to the top of the box and then stroked a left-footer past Hudock at the near post as the crowd erupted.
The Sounders tried for an immediate reply, but Hoggan's effort from the penalty circle sailed over. After sitting in their own half for most of the game, Seattle didn't seem able to change gears and go on the offensive. So Vancouver kept coming. In minute 70, after Jenkins had fouled Heald, the 86ers got a rare goal off a set play. Heald crossed it and a charging Nico Berg flicked in a header at the near post. Suddenly there seemed no way back for the besieged Sounders.
Vancouver made a number of substitutions at this point and Seattle started to see a little more of the ball. Hoggan's long shot was smothered by Shepherd, and then later Hattrup teased Skinner down the right side of the box before firing in a cross which Sumner nodded over for a corner just past his own post.
But the 86ers were in irresistible form and it was the speedy Clarke brothers who had the final say. First Chris Clarke raced onto a pass from Kindel, cut past a defender at the endline and then fired a sharp angle shot right at Hudock. Then finally in the 86th minute Ian Clarke took a corner kick from the right, sending it across to brother Chris on the left who volleyed into the net to put the icing on the cake.
Game one of the Pacific Division Final goes to Vancouver in a shockingly
emphatic fashion. The Sounders will have to do a lot of regrouping
for the rematch in Seattle on Sunday. And based on discussions I
had with other Sixers fans, there should be a good sized Canuck contingent
making the trek South. But those fans should know that this series
is a long way from over.