2006 May 13

Seattle Sounders  1 - 1  Minnesota Thunder
Qwest Field, Seattle, WA

Seattle: Chris Eylander; Danny Jackson, Seyi Abolaji (Cam Weaver 76'), Ben Somoza, Zach Scott (Jacob Besagno 56'); CJ Klaas (Nate Boyden 88'), Kevin Sakuda, Andrew Gregor, Leighton O'Brien (Gabe Sturm 79'); Roger Levesque, Jamal Sutton (Craig Tomlinson 65'). Substitutes not used: James Ward.

Minnesota: Joe Warren; Brett Branan, Kevin Friedland, Dustin Branan, Zafer Kilickan; Freddy Juarez, Nate Winkel (Terry Alvino 79'), Mike Wilson, Matt Schmidt; Nate Knox (Aaron Paye 75'), Mel Tarley. Substitutes not used: Nic Platter, Chad Dombrowski, Chris Brisson.

75' MIN - Wilson
77' SEA - Weaver (O'Brien)

Additional match reports: Sounders, Seattle Times, King County Journal, Thunder.

Match report by Ron Stickney:

The Seattle Sounders had chances to win their home opener, but settled for a 1-1 draw with the Minnesota Thunder. Minnesota struck first with a second-half goal by Mike Wilson. Seattle promptly answered with a goal by rookie Cam Weaver. The match opened up at the end, but neither side managed another strike.

A surprise on Seattle's bench was last year's backup goalkeeper, James Ward. Seattle's other 'keeper, David Mahoney, was called back to the team that loaned him, the Chicago Fire, after the Fire lost their backup goalkeeper to an injury in training. Mahoney is due back with the Sounders for Wednesday's match.

The attendance was an impressive 8,966, far more than we've seen at a home opener for the past ten years.

First Half

Sounders fans saw a very different back half of the team. From the previous year, the only familiar defender was Zach Scott, playing as center back in a 4-4-2 formation, and he limped off before the match was done. Ben Somoza started at right back, putting an experienced midfielder there rather than a primary defender. We've seen midfielders move to the back before, for instance the recently retired Ryan Edwards. If Somoza settles in at right back, he will gain regular playing time -- it is a challenge to get playing time in the midfield if your name isn't O'Brien, Gregor, Sakuda, or Klaas.

The first half didn't feature very many good chances, and the visitors had the best chances. Mel Tarley earned the first shot of the match in the 5th minute, getting into the penalty area for a shot that was deflected wide of the near post. Two minutes later Zafer Kilickan, then Matt Schmidt, lined shots on goal from outside the penalty area, and Chris Eylander saved them both.

The Sounders' first shot came from Roger Levesque in the arc in the 20th minute, and it had aim but not enough pace, claimed by Joe Warren with an easy diving save. Leighton O'Brien soon took a better shot, blasting a 15-yarder at the far post, and Warren flew right to parry it away with an arm.

For Minnesota in the 27th, Tarley turned at the 18-yard line for a good look, but sent the shot a yard over the bar.

For Seattle a minute later, O'Brien tried a quick chip from 18 but it came down yards past the bar.

Minnesota had the last chances of the half. At 37' Nate Winkel sent a low shot up the middle from 18, but right to Eylander. At 42' Schmidt fed Nate Knox very open in the penalty area, but his first touch wasn't a good one and sweeper Danny Jackson recovered to clear it.

Halftime: Seattle 0-0 Minnesota

The first chance of the second half looked like it was going to be a goal for the Sounders after Levesque laid off a short pass for Kevin Sakuda. Sakuda's near-post shot was slightly deflected by Warren onto the post squarely and it rebounded up the middle out of the reach of any attackers.

Seattle started substituting, and it was the subs who would make a difference. Scott limped off at 56', replaced by Jacob Besagno, who played well for the rest of the match including some excellent slide tackles. Craig Tomlinson came on for Jamal Sutton in the 65th and changed the complexion of the match, starting with a nice cross from the left to CJ Klaas, who powered his header a foot over the bar.

Seattle's momentum was building, and in the 74th Sakuda got his head on a nicely bent corner kick from Andrew Gregor, but Warren was well positioned for the save.

75' Wilson. The Sounders were caught napping on a throw-in play after Minnesota substituted Aaron Paye for Nate Knox. The throw-in play gave the ball to Mike Wilson, unmarked in the middle 25 yards from goal, and with nobody closing him down he fired a shot perfectly into the upper left corner out of the reach of Eylander. 1-0 Minnesota.

77' Weaver (O'Brien). Seattle answered right back. Tomlinson drew a foul outside the left end of the penalty area, giving Seattle a free kick in a favorable position. On came rookie Cam Weaver for defender Seyi Abolaji. O'Brien bent the free kick to the near side, and Weaver's head flicked it inside the far post as Warren was covering the near side. 1-1.

Minnesota came close to a winning goal in the 80th when Tarley dished a short pass to an open Aaron Paye for a 15-yard shot up the middle that rebounded squarely off the right post. Juarez' put-back attempt was smothered by Eylander, and the resulting corner kick was headed on goal, but Eylander was there.

Minnesota came close again in the 84th when Schmidt tried up the middle from 25 yards and just missed the top far corner.

Tomlinson was free for two shots in the 86th and 88th, but on the full run both times his first shot was covered by Warren and the second was sent two yards too high.

Final: Seattle 1-1 Minnesota

         Seattle  Minnesota
Shots:      10        15
Saves:       6         4
Corners:     7         6
Fouls:      16         9
Offsides:    3         3

52' MIN - Friedland cautioned for a rough foul on Abolaji
58' MIN - Kilickan cautioned

Referees: Oscar Ortiz; Josh Wilkens, Jallow Babboucarr; Jeff Hosking

Attendance: 8,966!