Vancouver 86ers 1 - 0 Seattle Sounders
Swangard Stadium, Burnaby, BC
54' VAN: Thompson
Vancouver: Paul Shepherd; Paul Dailly (Rob Hall 69), Steve MacDonald, Tom Hardy, Antonio Fonseca (Chris Franks 83); Carmen D'Onofrio, Jeff Skinner, Alfredo Valente (Jason Jordan 58), John Sulentic; Eduardo Sebrango (Domenic Mobilio 83), Niall Thompson.
Seattle: Preston Burpo; Kieran Barton, Jason Annicchero, Craig
Waibel; Scott Jenkins (Viet Nguyen 66), Ralph Robertson, Oliver Heald (Peter
Hattrup 77), Sean Henderson; Alexander Nouri (Shan Gaw 66), Ian Russell,
In the last match of the A-League regular season, the host Vancouver 86ers netted a solitary goal to sink the Seattle Sounders. Ex-Sounder Niall Thompson scored in the 54th minute, his long blast deflecting off the leg of Seattle defender Jason Annicchero and catching goalkeeper Preston Burpo leaning the wrong way.
The win moved Vancouver past Seattle for third place in the Western Conference. The top four are San Diego (90 points), Minnesota (88), Vancouver (84), and Seattle (81). In their six head-to-head meetings with Vancouver, Seattle had the edge with 12 points from 2 regulation wins and 2 CrapShootout wins, while Vancouver had 10 points from 2 regulation wins and the CrapShootout losses.
In this weekend's first round of the A-League playoffs, Vancouver will host 6th seed US Pro-40 Select, while Seattle will host 5th seed Orange County.
The pitch was loaded with contenders for A-League scoring awards. With Thompson's goal, he caught up with Seattle's Mark Baena at 20 goals for the golden boot award. Baena was a late scratch from the roster for tonight's match due to a pulled muscle apparently suffered in the match two nights previously, so he had no chance to add to his scoring stats. Thompson has 7 assists to Baena's 6, so the league will award the scoring title to Thompson using the formula of 2 "points" for a goal and one for an assist. Vancouver's 19-year-old John Sulentic set an A-League record of 19 assists this season to earn the silver boot award. Sulentic also had 9 goals and deserves the league's rookie of the year award. Vancouver's Eduardo Sebrango was also in the scoring chase with 18 goals and 10 assists, and is a logical candidate for the league's most valuable player award.
Ex-86er Oliver Heald was given the honor of taking the first shot of the match from a 25-yard free kick. He forced Paul Shepherd to make the first save at the lower near corner.
Seattle defender Kieran Barton let Sebrango get past at the halfway line with a through ball and it was off to the races, but Craig Waibel intercepted inside the penalty area to force Sebrango to settle for a corner kick.
Alexander Nouri set up a good chance for Seattle when he lost his marker and sent a diagonal pass to the left into the path of Sean Henderson, whose hard shot was taken by a diving Shepherd.
Midway in the half Vancouver had yet to shoot, then they had three shots in two seconds. Thompson rolled a pass right up the middle and Alfredo Valente curled to it to fire from the spot. Burpo had advanced and he blocked the first shot, then parried a shot by Skinner from the rebound, then the last shot by Valente was cleared out for a corner kick.
For Seattle, Scott Jenkins tried to chip over Shepherd, but the keeper collected the shot easily.
Only Vancouver generated shots for the next 15 minutes. An open Valente was served on the left side of the penalty area and he cracked a powerful shot to the near post. Burpo leaped to the post and parried the shot wide. A ball cleared from the penalty area was shot back in by Carmen D'Onofrio, but sent a couple of yards wide of the far post. A nice cross by Thompson from the left touch line gave Sebrango a dangerous header from 15 yards that dove down just behind the cross bar.
Seattle's Nouri took the last shot of the half when he received the ball from a free kick, carried it up the right side, and tried a long shot, but Shepherd easily saved.
Halftime: Vancouver 0 - 0 Seattle
Vancouver had the momentum early in the second half. In the opening minute Valente's cross from the left was headed by Thompson, who barely missed the far post. Thompson rolled a cross from the right side to the D and Sulentic blasted the ball onto the cross bar, the rebound clearing the goal for a goal kick.
54' Thompson. Thompson blasted a 30-yard shot up the middle that deflected off Annicchero's leg a few yards away and into the goal, past Burpo and just inside the left post. The deflection appeared to surprise Burpo, who was leaning the wrong way tracking the ball's original trajectory. After the goal, Annicchero and Burpo stood frozen in disbelief for a few seconds. Thompson ran up to Annicchero and patted him on the leg, earning Thompson a yellow card for unsporting behavior.
A few minutes later Annicchero nearly redeemed himself with a nice long ball over the defense for Henderson, but the midfielder couldn't quite reach the ball and Shepherd gobbled it up. Then Ian Russell's forward pass was just out of Heald's reach.
For Vancouver, defender Antonio Fonseca overlapped up the left side and crossed to Thompson, open out from the far post. Thompson's attempt at a volley barely connected, leaving the ball near Thompson for another try, this time sent wide.
With just under 20 minutes left, Seattle substitute Viet Nguyen fed ahead to Erik Storkson at the D. Storkson's short pass gave Russell a half chance that was sent well wide of the far post. Henderson's diagonal cross from the right side to the far post gave Storkson a good chance. Storkson slid in feet first and pushed the ball towards goal, but Shepherd slid in and knocked the shot wide for a corner kick. Barton tried a 30-yarder from a cleared ball, but sent the shot right to Shepherd's belly.
The final 13 minutes produced only Vancouver shots. Valente fired from the left corner of the penalty area but missed the far post. Thompson's blast from 25 yards hit the far post squarely and stayed in play. A through ball into the left side of the penalty area was chased by Sebrango and Burpo. Sebrango barely got there first and his shot was immediately blocked by Burpo, whose slide upended Sebrango. The home fans cried out for a penalty kick, but no foul was called, and from our angle the no-call seemed the proper response. The last good chance came 7 minutes from time when Sulentic beat substitute Shan Gaw at the edge of the area. Sulentic shot 2 yards wide of the far post.
Final: Vancouver 1 - 0 Seattle
Shots: VAN 16, SEA 8
Saves: Shepherd 7, Burpo 4
Corners: VAN 10, SEA 5
Fouls: VAN 20, SEA 16
Offside: VAN 1, SEA 2
6' Hardy (VAN) cautioned for a late trip of Henderson
42' Sulentic (VAN) cautioned for chopping down Nouri from behind
49' D'Onofrio (VAN) cautioned for getting Heald in the ankle
55' Thompson (VAN) cautioned for unsporting behavior after he scored
60' MacDonald (VAN) cautioned for taking down Nouri
Referee: Martin Reid; Asst. Refs: Simon Fearn, Tony Troughton; 4th Official: Kevin Duliba