2004 Sep 5

Playoffs, 1st round, 2nd leg:
Seattle Sounders 1 - 0 Portland Timbers
AET: Seattle win the series with a golden goal

Qwest Field, Seattle, WA

5' SEA - Welton (Sleeth)

AET Golden Goal:
100' SEA - Welton (Sawatzky)

Seattle: Preston Burpo; Danny Jackson, Ryan Edwards, Zach Scott, Billy Sleeth (Scott Jenkins 84'); Kevin Sakuda, Jason Farrell (Chad Brown 75'), Ben Somoza (Darren Sawatzky 91'), Jonathan Bolaņos; Roger Levesque, Welton. Substitutes not used: Danny Waltman, Viet Nguyen, Sean-Michael Callahan, Craig Tomlinson.

Portland: Josh Saunders; Gavin Wilkinson, Scot Thompson, Lee Morrison; Brian Winters, Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar, Andrew Gregor, Edwin Miranda, Jake Sagare; Alan Gordon, Byron Alvarez (Fadi Afash 85'). Substitutes not used: Elfvin Bayard, David Henning, Alex Bengard, Memo Arzate, Dan Antoniuk, Shawn Saunders.

Additional match reports: Seattle Times, Seattle P-I, King County Journal, Sounders, Timbers, Portland Oregonian.

Match report by Ron Stickney:

In the second leg of the opening playoff series, the Seattle Sounders notched a golden goal in the 100th minute to advance 3-2 on aggregate over the top-seeded Portland Timbers. Portland had won 2-1 at home four nights earlier in the first leg. Welton scored an early goal in the second leg that held up through 90 minutes to make it 2-2 on aggregate. Then it was Welton again with the golden goal. Preston Burpo made some fine saves to earn a 100-minute shutout.

The Sounders advance to take on the Vancouver Whitecaps in the second round of the playoffs, which serves as the Western Conference Championship Series. The winner of that series will advance to the A-League Championship match, a single-match round that will be hosted by the Western finalist.

First Half

5' Welton (Sleeth). It didn't take long for the Sounders to pull even on aggregate. Jason Farrell from the top of the penalty box fed a nice diagonal ball to the right side for Billy Sleeth. Open to do what he wanted with the cross, near the end line Sleeth centered it towards the middle of the 6-yard line and Welton ran in alone to tap it into the open space available on the far side of the goal. 1-0 Seattle, 2-2 on aggregate.

The Sounders nearly added another goal in the 21st minute. Jonathan Bolaņos' long free kick from the right side went to the far post, where Roger Levesque headed it on goal. Josh Saunders made the save, the rebound was shot on goal and rejected by a defender at the post, and then the ball was knocked over the goal line between the posts, but the Sounders were guilty of fouling Saunders in the goal area to keep him from getting to the ball.

Jake Sagare gave Portland their first good chance in the 24th when he carried the ball from the left touch line to the arc, just barely under control much of the run, and managed a low shot, but it didn't have enough velocity and Burpo dove on it for a save. Alan Gordon forced another save with a low shot from 25 yards, and Byron Alvarez' header from inside the arc missed by a few yards.

Then it was Seattle in command for 14 minutes. Ben Somoza's cross to the near post gave Levesque a chance, but he couldn't get the shot on frame. Jason Farrell's 20-yard try was blocked by a defender halfway there. Bolaņos took a 25-yard free kick, but wasted it well over the bar. Farrell's left-footer from 20 yards on the left missed the far post by a yard.

Portland had the last chance of the half when a corner kick was sent to Andrew Gregor at the top of the box for a shot at the top far corner, and Burpo leaped for a fine save.

Halftime: Seattle 1 - 0 Portland (2-2 on aggregate)

4 minutes into the second half a Portland throw-in play worked the ball close to goal on the left side, but Burpo ventured wide of goal and dove to win the dangerous ball, then he pumped his fist at the Timbers Army fans as he got back up to punt the ball.

Seattle's first corner kick of the match came in the 51st minute, and Bolaņos headed it well wide of the top far corner.

For Portland in the 54th, Gregor from 20 yards on the left took what would be Portland's best shot, but Burpo made a big save, flying sideways to catch it, fumbling it as the ball hit the post, and scrambling to pounce on the leftovers just before a Portland attacker could get there. 5 minutes later Portland had another good chance after the ball was stolen from Bolaņos and Alvarez was served with only Burpo to beat, but Burpo came way out to stuff the shot and again claim the leftovers.

Seattle took the momentum in the 66th, beginning with a 30-yarder by Farrell that was deflected just wide of the post for a corner. A cleared Seattle free kick was served back in by Danny Jackson and Bolaņos beat the offside trap for a shot from 10 yards on the left, but he missed a yard wide of the far post when it seemed he had time to shoot accurately. Farrell bounced a shot on goal that was easily saved. Then Seattle's best shot of the half came when Levesque fed it ahead to Welton 12 yards from goal for a sideways volley that was aimed just under the bar, but Saunders made a fine one-handed save, pushing the ball up and to the side.

Portland's offense came back in the 77th with Miranda's 35-yarder up the middle, a couple of yards high. Then Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar came very close to the top far corner with a shot from 20 yards on the right.

In the 90th minute, some Seattle fans were calling for a PK when Welton headed a cross into Lee Morrison's arm inside the box, but it wasn't deliberate and referee Jair Marrufo was correct in letting play go on. It was a clear case of ball to arm rather than arm to ball.

Final: Seattle 1 - 0 Portland (2-2 on aggregate)

Extra Time

So after two 90-minute matches, it was 2-2 on agregate, each side winning by a goal at home. It was on to 30 minutes of golden goal extra time to settle the series. One substitute entered, Darren Sawatzky for Somoza on Seattle's right side, and it would prove to be a winning substitution.

Portland shot first when Fadi Afash shot up the middle from 20 yards, and Burpo dove just wide of the post to catch the ball.

Seattle started pressure on Portland's goal in the 97th when a loose ball in the area went to an open Welton, who chest-trapped it and shot at the far post where a defender kicked it clear. A minute later Sawatzky was open on the left for a low 15-yarder that missed the far post by an inch.

100' Welton (Sawatzky). Bolaņos served the ball towards the right corner for Sawatzky, who whipped in a cross along the 6-yard line. The cross was just behind Levesque, who was knocked down as he attempted to play the ball, and Levesque's run served as an effective dummy, for the cross continued to Welton just wide of the far post. Welton's shot hit the underside of the crossbar and deflected down into the back of the net for the series winner.

AET: Seattle Golden Goal (Seattle 3-2 on aggregate)

         Seattle  Portland
Shots:      21       13
Saves:       8        4
Corners:     2        3
Fouls:      15       11
Offsides:    2        0

20' SEA - Sleeth cautioned for a late charge that knocked Winters down.
59' POR - Alvarez cautioned.
61' SEA - Edwards cautioned for pulling down Alcaraz-Cuellar.
82' SEA - Scott cautioned for sliding under Alcaraz-Cuellar.

Referees: Jair Marrufo; Will Niccolls, Mark Matthews; Calin Znamirovschi.
Attendance: 3,490

Postmatch interview by Lars Lifrak:

Q: Great game. Your thoughts?
Darren Sawatzky: It's exciting. The playoffs are about which team the ball bounces for a little bit better and we worked really hard in the overtime to find it. It's exciting.

Q: What about you personally? Portland had a couple of chances, do you ever think, "This could be the end of my career?"
DS: Of course, but I always think I'm going to make a difference. I went out there to just try to shake things up, to find a goal, and we found one.

Q: But does it ever go through your mind as they are down at the other end getting ready to shoot, does the fact that you are retiring ever enter your mind?
DS: When I'm playing I'm just thinking about the game. Hopefully we've got three more games to play and at the end when we're holding up a cup, I'll just smile and think about retirement.

Q: What about the end of the game? That's like a storybook for you to be involved in the golden goal.
DS: When I started as a pro, I was a sub coming off the bench trying to make an impact and it's kind of cool that it's come around full circle, and hopefully I can keep making an impact.

Q: What about the Sounders as a team? It seemed like a switch flipped at some point and things have turned around.
DS: Well, we've had a lot of injuries, we've battled through a lot of stuff, and I'll tell you what, I don't think we've had one lucky bounce this entire year. But the Seattle Sounders are in the playoff every year for a reason, it's a good organization, it's a good group of guys and we know what we're doing when it gets to playoff time.

Q: Thanks Darren, good luck.
DS: Thanks.