2003 May 18

Seattle Sounders  1 - 0  Portland Timbers
Seahawks Stadium, Seattle, WA

15' SEA - Velez (Edwards)

Seattle: Rich Cullen; Danny Jackson, Zach Scott, Ryan Edwards; Viet Nguyen, Andrew Gregor, Alex Bengard, Jason Farrell, Darren Sawatzky (Craig Tomlinson 81'); Marco Velez (Kevin Sakuda 75'), Kyle Smith. Substitutes not used: Ryan Wittstruck, Greg Foisie, Matt Hulen, Shawn Percell.

Portland: Curtis Spiteri; Gavin Wilkinson, Nick Downing, Manuel Brasil, Aaron Heinzen; Brian Winters (Byron Alvarez 73'), Scott Benedetti (Lee Morrison 46'), Jason Melendez, Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar; McKinley Tennyson, Fadi Afash (Jake Vaughn 60'). Substitutes not used: Cole Burgman, Ryan Youngblood, Dan Antoniuk, Bryn Ritchie.

Match report by Ron Stickney:

Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer surprised everyone by starting rookie defender Marco Velez as a forward, and Velez validated the decision by scoring the only goal of the match. Sean-Michael Callahan, who had been starting up front, sat out this one due to a red card in the previous match. This was Seattle's first match without Leighton O'Brien, loaned to Boden in Sweden's second division, and Darren Sawatzky got the start in midfield. Rich Cullen had a good match in goal, shutting out the Portland Timbers for the third consecutive time this young season.

First Half

15' Velez (Edwards). Seattle had not taken a shot yet when Gavin Wilkinson took down Viet Nguyen to the left of the penalty area. The free kick from near the touch line rattled around in the penalty area, was semi-cleared twice, and Ryan Edwards near the 18 got the ball from an attempted clearance, passed it ahead to Velez near the spot, and the freshly promoted striker struck it low and well to the left of goalkeeper Curtis Spiteri. 1-0 Seattle, and that was all they would need. Velez stripped off his shirt and waved it overhead in celebration of his first professional goal.

Portland came back with shots by McKinley Tennyson, wide of the far post from 18 yards on the right, and Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar, a long shot from the right touch line straight to Cullen.

Midway in the half Nguyen's corner kick from O'Brien's side was served to the head of Sawatzky out from the near post, and the looping header at the far post was deftly headed wide for another corner by Nick Downing manning the post. Later Andrew Gregor in the middle beat several opponents for a 25-yarder up the middle that slid just wide right.

In the 32nd minute Portland's Tennyson struck a good 25-yard shot up the middle that forced a diving block-save by Cullen, the rebound going towards a wide open Fadi Afash. Cullen dove out to get to the ball simultaneously with Afash, and the striker went down. Referee Marcel Yonan judged it to be a dive, and Afash was awarded the yellow card.

Seattle had the last three good shots of the half. In the 34th Velez was served for a 15-yard header from Nguyen's cross, made a nice effort to get off a hard shot, but the ball sailed two yards too high. Alex Bengard created his own 20-yard shot after intercepting a Portland pass, but the hard shot was aimed wide. Nguyen's cross to the far side was claimed by Jason Farrell, whose headed cross gave Velez a chance to poke the ball, but Velez was charged hard as he shot and the ball went over the bar.

Halftime: Seattle 1 - 0 Portland

Seattle kept the momentum into the second half. Bengard took the first shot from the corner of the penalty area, but curled it away from the top far corner. Gregor got into the area on the left and curled a soft chip just wide of the top far corner. Velez was served from a free kick, and he dribbled into the area, got free, and shot from 15 at the bar, and Spiteri pushed it over for a fine save.

Portland had a good chance at 71' when Jason Melendez was sprung up the middle, but Cullen came out to smother the shot at the spot.

Gregor showed some wheels when he sprinted up the middle on a through ball from a counter attack, but Spiteri slid out to block the shot clear.

In the 80th Portland substitute Jake Vaughn's shot from the corner of the area was caught at the bar by Cullen, then Tennyson crashed into Cullen for a foul, and Cullen's arms may have been knocked into the bar.

Seattle's last chance came in the 84th when Farrell tried a left-footed 25-yard shot up the middle, saved on the ground by Spiteri.

Portland had three chances left. Aaron Heinzen's cross from the left led to another Tennyson-Cullen collision as Tennyson headed it over the bar. A Tennyson free kick from the left was sent to the spot, and a shot by Wilkinson at the lower left corner was claimed by Cullen for a save. Just before the final whistle, Cullen saved again, catching one at the bar.

Final: Seattle 1 - 0 Portland

         Seattle  Portland
Shots:      13       11
Saves:       6        4
Corners:     3        3
Fouls:      18       23
Offsides:    2        7

21' SEA - Nguyen cautioned for tripping from behind shortly after being dispossessed in Portland's half.
32' POR - Afash cautioned for diving in the Seattle penalty area.
35' SEA - Gregor cautioned for a late challenge, knocking an opponent down near the halfway line.
41' POR - Benedetti cautioned for taking Nguyen down hard near the halfway line.
67' POR - Tennyson cautioned for chopping down Nguyen just after Nguyen cleared the ball.
77' SEA - Edwards cautioned.

Referees: Marcel Yonan; Mohammed Zarrabi-Kashani, Rachel Berg; David Rowe.
Attendance: 3,945