2006 Jul 18

Seattle Sounders  1 - 1  Cardiff City
Qwest Field, Seattle, WA

Seattle: Chris Eylander; Danny Jackson, Noah Merl, Jake Besagno (Nate Boyden 70'); Kevin Sakuda (Gabe Sturm 46'), Leighton O'Brien, Andrew Gregor, Ben Somoza (Jake Sagare 57'), Santa Maria Rivera (Seyi Abolaji 46'); Roger Levesque (Maykel Galindo 79'), Craig Tomlinson (Jamal Sutton 57'). Substitutes not used: Jimmy Ward, Jason Farrell.

Cardiff: Neil Alexander; Kevin McNaughton (Chris Barker 68'), Joe Ledley, Darren Purse (Roger Johnson 46'), Glen Loovens; Riccy Scimeca, Stephen McPhail, Neal Ardley (Kevin Cooper 45'), Paul Parry; Stephen Thompson (Jeff Whitley 78'), Michael Chopra. Substitutes not used: Mark Howard, Nick McKoy, Malvin Kamara, Jemal Easter, Andreas Ferretti.

4' CC: Chopra (Parry)
72' SEA: Levesque (Sagare)

Additional match reports: Seattle Times, Seattle P-I, Sounders.

Match report by Ron Stickney:

This friendly was a game of two halves. The visiting Cardiff City, playing preseason tune-up matches, dominated the first half, taking a 1-0 lead on Michael Chopra's goal on the first shot of the match. The host Seattle Sounders, most of the way through their league season, came back to win the second half on Roger Levesque's goal, and the sides settled for a draw. The Cardiff City Bluebirds are from Wales and play in the Coca Cola Football League Championship.

Good news for Seattle was the appearance of Cuban striker Maykel Galindo late in the match, his first appearance after suffering a broken nose and face in a preseason friendly against Chivas USA. Missing from Seattle's lineup was rookie and leading scorer Cam Weaver, injured but reportedly cleared to play in the league matches this weekend.

First Half

4' Chopra (Parry). Cardiff City scored on the first shot of the match. Paul Parry's long cross from the left touch line was perfect for Chopra on a run up the middle, and he got way up to head a shot under the crossbar from 10 yards. It was a nice goal. 1-0 Cardiff City.

A minute later Seattle's first shot came from left midfielder Santa Maria Rivera, who volleyed from inside the penalty area but wasn't close to goal. Seattle would get only one other shot in the half, another try from Rivera that also missed by a wide margin.

There was nice chanting in the south end between a strong group of Cardiff City supporters and the Emerald City Supporters, who were just a section apart. The Cardiff supporters were already singing the Jingle Bells song in the 10th minute, but it would prove to be premature.

As Seattle fans are accustomed to seeing this year, the defense tried to give the match away. In the 11th, an attempted clearance by Danny Jackson went right up the middle to an open Chopra, and the quick shot resulted in Chris Eylander making the first save of the match. A minute later left back Jake Besagno slid down with an attempted ball tackle and missed completely, leading to a powerful shot by Neal Ardley and an strong save by Eylander. Another minute went by and Parry tried up the middle from 20 yards and missed the lower left corner by inches.

Seattle's defense finally settled things down until the 30th minute, when Ardley crossed nicely from the right touch line and Stephen Thompson was there to head a shot, but he missed a half yard over the bar and was left holding his head in dismay. Left back Joe Ledley was up in the 35th for a 25-yard try, but he missed by two yards.

Chopra had two more chances in the final two minutes of the half, first another gift from a poor Seattle clearance that Chopra fired wide by a yard. In the 45th Chopra took a pass for a 25-yard shot up the middle, low and hard and taken by Eylander.

Halftime: Seattle 0-1 Cardiff City

The second half saw no shots either way until 61' when Parry shot from long free kick play, but he wasn't close. Another free kick play gave Chopra a shot, and Eylander saved.

A turning point in the match seemed to occur with a head banging incident in the 66th minute. Right back Kevin McNaughton was in the arc in Seattle's end to challenge Seattle substitute defender Seyi Abolaji for an air ball. Both players went down as McNaughton was whistled for a foul. Abolaji was first up after a couple of minutes and he stayed in the match. McNaughton finally got up and left the pitch holding a fat bandage on the top of his head, probably needing a stitch or three. Chris Barker came on for McNaughton.

The head banging seemed to stun not only McNaughton, but also the whole Cardiff City side. On the restart from the arc in Seattle's end, the Sounders worked the ball up the middle and deep in the Bluebirds' penalty area, and the defender failed to clear the ball, giving the trailer, Levesque, a golden chance from a short drop pass. Levesque shot on goal, but goalkeeper Neil Alexander managed to deflect it across the goal mouth and a yard wide of the far post, out for a corner. The corner kick play gave Andrew Gregor an open shot up the middle from 20 yards, and he blistered the ball only to see Alexander make a spectacular one-handed slap just over the bar. The next corner kick got loose and went to Jackson for an 18-yard low shot up the middle that went inches wide of the post.

72' Levesque (Sagare). Substitute midfielder Jake Sagare took a pass on the right side, got by his marker with a feint, and sprinted forward to whip a perfect cross to the near post. Levesque was on the near-post run and leaned forward to power a header inside the near post, beating a visibly frustrated Alexander to the ball. 1-1.

The offense then opened up both ways as each side showed a lot of heart and tried to win the match, much to the delight of the fans.

After a Cardiff player was whistled for dangerous play, Seattle had a 25-yard free kick, but Gregor wasted it wide of the near post. Galindo came on in the 79th minute and the fans voiced their appreciation at seeing him back on the pitch.

It looked like Cardiff would win it in the 86th when Chopra was free up the middle after a defender stabbed at the ball and missed, but Chopra touched it a bit too far ahead and Eylander was able to charge out to the 18 and take the ball off Chopra's foot.

In the same minute, Seattle substitute Jamal Sutton got wide open for an 18-yard shot, powered on goal but right into Alexander's bread basket.

In the 90th Chopra broke free for another good chance from 15 yards, but Eylander made an outstanding save.

The last chance was Seattle's, when Sutton was fed the ball deep in the box. He dropped a pass to the 18, where Galindo fired a shot inches over the top near corner. Seconds later the final whistle sounded.

Final: Seattle 1-1 Cardiff City

           Seattle   Cardiff
Shots:       10        11
Saves:        5         4
Corners:      6         1
Fouls:       18        13
Offsides:     4         8

48' CC: Thompson cautioned for a cleats-first challenge
84' SEA: Abolaji cautioned for throwing an arm

Referees: Yader Reyes; Chris Strickland, Jeff Hosking; Cory Dean

Attendance: 4,052