A-League Playoffs, 1st Round:
Seattle Sounders 6 - 3 Orange County Zodiac
Renton Memorial Stadium, Renton, WA
5' OC: Boyce (Patterson)
16' SEA: Henderson (Heald)
26' SEA: Baena
38' SEA: J Vasquez own goal
45' SEA: Henderson (PK)
61' OC: J Vasquez (Polowski)
64' SEA: Russell (Baena)
74' OC: Leal (Patterson)
87' SEA: Russell (Robertson)
Seattle: Bill May; Kieran Barton, Jason Annicchero, Craig Waibel; Shan Gaw (Ralph Robertson 68), Viet Nguyen, Sean Henderson, Oliver Heald (Randy Mann 83); Ian Russell, Erik Storkson, Mark Baena (Alexander Nouri 73).
Orange County: Mike Littman; Jose Vasquez, Peter Lak, Shawn Saunders,
Mike Robles (Gustavo Leal 69); Paul McDonnell (Eddie Soto 49), Martin Vasquez,
Mark Foster, Jason Boyce (Orlando Perez 83); PJ Polowski (Tanner Rupp 61),
This first-round playoff match between the Seattle Sounders and the Orange County Zodiac was a wild affair, featuring 9 goals, 5 yellow cards, 2 red cards, a penalty kick and an own goal. When the dust had settled, Seattle had advanced to the second round of the playoffs with a 6-3 win. Jason Boyce opened the scoring in just the 5th minute, putting Orange County up 1-0. The Sounders came back in the first half with four goals - a pair from Sean Henderson (his second a PK), a goal by Mark Baena, and an Orange County own goal courtesy of Jose Vasquez. J Vasquez scored early in the second half to cancel his own goal, and Gustavo Leal scored for Orange County, but a pair by Ian Russell maintained the Sounders' margin of victory.
Orange County's last two goals were scored while down a man, as Shawn Saunders was sent off in the 52nd minute. Near the end, Zodiac defender Peter Lak was sent off as well.
The Sounders advance to round two of the A-League playoffs. Next up is a best-of-three series with San Diego.
The two sides wasted no time in generating offense. From the kickoff, Boyce ran free up the right side for a shot from inside the penalty area, but the shot was way high. Henderson's cross gave Baena a great chance with a header, but the ball flashed just wide of the post.
5' Boyce (Patterson). Steve Patterson's pass put Boyce free up the left side. From just inside the left corner of the penalty area, Boyce bent a shot around the advancing Bill May and just inside the far post. It was a nice, accurate strike. SEA 0-1 OC.
The goal seemed to wake up the Sounders. Russell's dangerous cross was cleared out for a corner kick. From Oliver Heald's free kick, Erik Storkson's looping header was on goal but an easy save for Littman. On a run up the middle, Heald juked right, juked left, fired from 20 yards and was just wide.
16' Henderson (Gaw). Heald's corner kick from the left side was headed inside the far post by Henderson, who met the ball near the left corner of the goal area while on a near-post run. SEA 1-1 OC.
26' Baena. A Sounders throw-in from the right side went off Baena's shin towards goal from 10 yards out and was deflected towards the left post. Several players scrambled after the ball and it squirted back to Baena, who put the second chance into the net. SEA 2-1 OC.
Orange County had a couple of chances to level the score. J Vasquez curled a 22-yard free kick on goal, forcing May's first save. Boyce fired at the near post from a quick throw-in, but May dove to save.
38' J Vasquez own goal. A relatively harmless air ball was headed by Vasquez back for Littman, but Littman had come out for the ball. Littman reversed direction and almost got the ball, getting a touch on it, but he couldn't prevent the own goal. SEA 3-1 OC.
45' Henderson (PK). In the final minute of the first half, Storkson was held by Mike Robles during a Sounders cross into the penalty area. A penalty kick seemed a bit harsh for the seemingly modest foul, but referee David Bragg promptly awarded one. Henderson put his low shot just left of middle, and the ball went in off Littman's foot as he went the wrong way. SEA 4-1 OC.
Halftime: Seattle 4 - 1 Orange County
Good fortune continued for Seattle in the second half. Henderson was sandwiched during a run up the middle, giving Seattle a free kick from the 18-yard line. Viet Nguyen bent the free kick a yard over the bar.
Orange County defender Shawn Saunders was given a red card in the 52nd minute when he held Russell in front of the Sounders bench to prevent a breakaway. The card may have been for fouling to prevent an obvious goal scoring opportunity, in which case it was a bit harsh given the distance from goal, or it may have been for something Saunders said.
Henderson had a chance for a hat trick with a 25-yarder up the middle, but he was a couple of yards wide left.
61' J Vasquez (Polowski). PJ Polowski's corner kick from the left went to the arc, and Vasquez rocketed it into the lower right corner to effectively cancel his own goal. SEA 4-2 OC.
64' Russell (Baena). Russell came right back to restore Seattle's 3-goal lead. Baena was set free up the left side and crossed to the far post. Russell trapped the cross on the 6-yard line, turned once, turned twice, and fired into the net. SEA 5-2 OC.
A minute later, Russell had another chance, firing a shot up the middle from 20 yards that was saved by Littman at the post.
After Ralph Robertson came on for Gaw, he coughed up the ball the first time he got it, giving Orange County's Martin Vasquez a shot from 25 yards that missed the top far corner by a yard. Patterson tried a long shot from the right but was a few yards wide of the near post.
74' Leal (Patterson). From deep in Seattle's penalty area left of goal, Patterson dropped the ball to Gustavo Leal, who had recently entered the match. Leal beat May with a near-post shot from 15 yards. SEA 5-3 OC.
The rest was all Seattle. Robertson got a 25-yard chance from a clearance and sent it well wide. Russell burst up the middle, beating two on the way, and fired from 15 yards, but the advancing Littman got enough of the ball to deflect it wide for a corner.
Peter Lak earned a red card at 83' for what looked like a two-handed slap to the ear of 20-year-old Alexander Nouri, the player loaned to the Sounders from Germany's Werder Bremen. First Lak held Nouri and was whistled for it, then Nouri got in Lak's face. Lak struck Nouri, who fell to the ground holding his head, rolling in apparent pain. Lak left the field and then there were nine.
Robertson had a good chance when a cross was dummied by Storkson, leaving Robertson plenty of time to tee up his shot from 15. The blast at the near post was pushed wide by Littman for a corner.
87' Russell (Robertson). Robertson fed a ball to Russell, who had acres of space on the left. Russell burst past the last defender and was headed at the goal line left of goal. Russell shot a yard before he reached the bye line, and from the difficult angle he put a low shot just inside the far post. SEA 6-3 OC.
Final: Seattle 6 - 3 Orange County
Shots: SEA 17, OC 12
Saves: May 6, Littman 6
Corners: SEA 7, OC 5
Fouls: SEA 16, OC 14
Offside: SEA 5, OC 1
9' Polowski (OC) cautioned for taking out Annicchero's legs.
42' Foster (OC) cautioned for taking down Gaw.
52' Saunders (OC) sent off for holding Russell near the Sounders bench, preventing a breakaway.
59' Barton (SEA) cautioned for going over Soto to head clear.
68' Boyce (OC) cautioned.
71' M Vasquez (OC) cautioned.
83' Lak (OC) sent off for holding Nouri, then punching him in the face after a foul was whistled.
Referee: David Bragg; Asst. Refs: Oscar Myre, Kevin Boisen; 4th Official: Mohammed Zarrabi-Kashani.