2001 Jun 8

Seattle Sounders  3 - 0  Utah Blitzz
US Open Cup qualifier, Interbay Stadium, Seattle, WA

24' SEA - Ching (Nguyen)
65' SEA - Nguyen (Tomlinson)
72' SEA - Tomlinson (Brown)

Seattle: Preston Burpo; Kieran Barton, Scott Jenkins, Ryan Edwards; Sean Henderson (Jeremy Sweet 78'), Leighton O'Brien, Kei Kinoshita (Chad Brown 71'), Jason Farrell; Viet Nguyen (Peter Hattrup 78'), Rees Bettinger (Craig Tomlinson 54'), Brian Ching (Christer Forsberg 78').

Utah: Mike Littman; John Cairel, Adolfo Ovalle, Richie Breza, Glenn Puckrin; Damian Munoz (Fadi Afash 12'), William McNicol, Jorge Estrada, Joe McNab; Athanasios Koubouras (Sterling Wescott 45'), Kevin Noleen (Alejandro Gutierrez 66').

Match report by Ron Stickney:
In their final US Open Cup qualifier, the Seattle Sounders took maximum points with a convincing 3-0 win over the Utah Blitzz (D3 League). Utah will still qualify for the Cup via the wild card as one of the top five D3 teams.

Forward Brian Ching, on loan from the MLS Los Angeles Galaxy, started for Seattle (a pleasant surprise) and scored the first goal in the 24th minute. Ching, a Hawaii native who played at Gonzaga University in Spokane, was the Sounders' first draft choice this year, but he was also drafted and signed by the Galaxy. Viet Nguyen and Craig Tomlinson added goals in the second half to give Seattle the Bogus Point they needed to clinch first place in the qualifying group.

Mike Casale sat this one out, suspended for a red card received when these same teams played in Salt Lake City on May 26.

First Half

Seattle dominated the first half, with Ching getting most of the early scoring chances. In the 5th, Jason Farrell headed a long ball towards the spot and Ching ran up the middle and slid feet first, but couldn't reach enough of the ball to get the shot on goal. A long ball from Kieran Barton into the penalty area was headed by Ching before goalkeeper Mike Littman could get to it, but the shot went a yard wide.

Utah sent in Fadi Afash for Damian Munoz in just the 12th minute, but Afash would be frustrated all evening long. Utah's first good chance came when Jorge Estrada received a pass 10 yards from goal on the right and shot low at the near post, forcing a horizontal Preston Burpo to stretch to get one hand on the ball.

In the 20th, Rees Bettinger beat two defenders nicely on the left side to earn a cross from the bye line, a hard cross sent at Ching's head at the near post, but Ching's header from 7 yards was sent right at Littman's chest for a block save.

24' Ching (Nguyen). From the center of Utah's half, Nguyen saw Ching calling for the ball near the arc and sent in a nice pass. Ching beat the defender on his back to get open and he sent a low 15-yard shot past Littman and inside the far post. 1-0 Seattle.

Five minutes later Leighton O'Brien saw Littman off his line and floated a 40-yarder over the keeper but a yard over the bar.

In the 39th, Afash battled Burpo for an aerial cross and Afash punched the ball over Burpo. The ball was headed into goal, but with an acrobatic leap Scott Jenkins headed the ball up and over the bar. After a short conference with assistant Mikhail Alnajjar, referee Cory Dean showed Afash the yellow card for deliberately handling the ball and play restarted with a Seattle free kick.

Halftime: Seattle 1 - 0 Utah

Seattle continued to outplay Utah in the second half. O'Brien put Bettinger free into the left side of the area for a 15-yard shot, but with Littman charging out the shot went a yard wide of the near post. From a corner kick play that was passed around amongst several Sounders, O'Brien earned a 15-yard shot from the left that was aimed past Littman and on goal, but John Cairel made a great play by volleying the waist-high ball clear from a yard in front of goal.

65' Nguyen (Tomlinson). Left of the goal, substitute Tomlinson tried to beat a defender to a ball that made it through to Littman. The goalkeeper tried to clear the ball but blasted it into his defender a yard away. The ball fell for Tomlinson near the end line, and he dropped a short diagonal pass for Nguyen 10 yards out from the near post, and Nguyen put a shot past the defender guarding the goal line. 2-0 Seattle.

72' Tomlinson (Brown). Moments after entering the match, Chad Brown on the attack sent a ball up the right side to the right edge of the penalty area. He thought the ball was sent too far, but the speedy Tomlinson got to it first and chipped it over the onrushing Littman and everyone watched the ball float in at the top near corner. 3-0 Seattle.

McNicol came back with a couple of shots for Utah, first sending a long free kick from the left touch line to the top far corner, where Burpo tracked it down. Then McNicol's 25-yarder up the middle was deflected towards the lower right corner by Barton and Burpo had to make his best diving save of the night to prevent an own goal.

In the 80th, Tomlinson nearly had another when he stole the ball cleanly at Utah's 18-yard line and was in with only Littman to beat, but the keeper slid out to block the shot. Seattle's last chance came from a 25-yard free kick sent a few yards for O'Brien, whose shot at the lower left corner forced a diving save by Littman.

The match ended with some 90th-minute nastiness when Afash slid in late with cleats up and hit Edwards in the shin, rolling Edwards' ankle. Afash was sent off, appropriately. Edwards was still limping when he came out of the locker room. Utah will probably play their second round Open Cup match without Afash.

Final: Seattle 3 - 0 Utah

         Seattle  Utah
Shots:      21      7
Saves:       3      8
Corners:     3      4
Fouls:      19     19
Offsides:    3      1

39' UTA - Afash cautioned for attempting the Hand of God, or perhaps the Hand of Allah.
53' UTA - Puckrin cautioned for taking Ching down from behind near the circle.
75' SEA - Brown cautioned for sliding under an opponent near the touch line.
83' SEA - Jenkins cautioned for tripping near the halfway line.
85' UTA - team trainer cautioned for abusive language.
90' UTA - Afash sent off for a cleats-up slide into Edwards' shin.

Referee: Cory Dean; Asst Refs: Mikhail Alnajjar, Fred Mabbott; 4th: Mike Fox.
Attendance: 359