2007 Aug 11

Seattle Sounders  2 - 2  Minnesota Thunder
Qwest Field, Seattle, WA

Seattle: Chris Eylander; Danny Jackson, Taylor Graham, Noah Merl (Andre Schmid 84'), Zach Scott; Kevin Sakuda, Leighton O'Brien (Greg Howes 63'), Josh Gardner (Santa Maria Rivera 60'), Hugo Alcaraz-Cueller; Sebastien Le Toux, Roger Levesque (Nathan Knox 77'). Substitutes not used: Ben Dragavon, Jake Besagno, Adam West.

Minnesota: Joe Warren; Kevin Taylor, Kevin Friedland, Kyle Zenoni (Dale Weiler 83'), Jonathan Greenfield; Brian Farber (Leo Gibson 71'), Rodrigo Hidalgo (Freddy Suarez 79'), Ansu Toure (Darren Spicer 87'), Jeremiah Bass (Sasha Gotsmanov 73'); Godfrey Tenoff, Keisuke Ota. Substitutes not used: Nicolas Platter.

63' SEA: Rivera (Alcaraz-Cuellar)

77' MIN: Ota (Greenfield)
82' MIN: Ota (Gibson)
90 SEA: Graham (Alcaraz-Cuellar)

Additional match reports: GOALSeattle.com, Seattle Times, Minnesota Thunder.
Photos: GOALSeattle.com.

Match report from the Seattle Sounders:

Seattle Sounders defender Taylor Graham scored a last breath equalizer against the Minnesota Thunder at Qwest Field Saturday night to earn the home side a 2-2 draw in front of 3,867 fans.

The draw meant the Sounders squandered a chance to move into first place in the USL First Division and remain one point behind the Portland Timbers with eight games left to be played.

Offensive depth once again proved to be key for the Sounders as Graham and Santa Maria-Rivera became the eighth and ninth different Sounder to score in a regular-season game this season.

Last-place Minnesota, looking to play the role of spoiler, hung tough with the Sounders in the first half.

In the 28th minute, goalkeeper Chris Eylander tipped a dangerous Ansu Toure cross against the crossbar and then caught a break when Minnesota leading scorer Brian Farber blasted a point blank shot over the bar.

The near miss appeared to awaken the Sounders offense.

Roger Levesque received a Josh Gardner ball over the top in the 30th minute and fired a volley into the arms of the onrushing Minnesota goalkeeper Joe Warren.

Leighton O'Brien continued the offensive onslaught in the 38th minute with a brilliant chip of the Minnesota goalkeeper from 18 yards out that ricocheted off the cross bar. Le Toux slotted the rebound into the back of the net, but the goal was disallowed due to Le Toux's offside position prior to the shot.

Levesque threatened again minutes later with a header to the far post. However, Minnesota goalkeeper Warren denied Levesque with a diving save to his left to preserve a scoreless first half.

The second half began in the same way the first half ended with Seattle pouring on the offensive pressure in search of a goal.

In the 56th minute, Levesque laid a cross off his chest into the path of the trailing O'Brien, who hit a glancing shot that the Minnesota keeper collected.

Second half substitute Santa Maria-Rivera finally broke the stalemate in the 63rd minute with his first goal of the season to give the Sounders a 1-0 advantage. With the Sounders playing ping-pong in front of the Minnesota goal, Rivera jumped in front of a Minnesota defender and headed an Alcaraz-Cuellar cross into the back of the net.

Underdog Minnesota refused to go down quietly and Japanese striker Keisuke Ota single-handedly brought Minnesota back with two towering header goals in five minutes.

Ota, once the tallest player in the Japanese J-League at 6'4", grabbed the equalizer in the 77th minute out leapt Seattle defender Zach Scott at the far post and headed the ball past a diving Eylander.

The Japanese international struck again in the 82nd minute with another header. Second half substitute Leo Gibson whipped in a cross from the right side and Ota sent a glancing header into the side-netting.

The Sounders, desperate to gain an equalizer, poured players forward looking for an equalizer.

Taylor Graham found just that in extra time when he headed in an Alcaraz-Cuellar free kick past the Minnesota goalkeeper and into the back of the net. The assist was Alcaraz-Cuellar's second of the night and team-leading 7th of the season.

          Seattle   Minnesota
Shots:       14         8
Saves:        2         7
Corners:      5         4
Fouls:        9        12
Offsides:     9         3


Referees: Kari Seitz; Scott Lawrence, Manuel Soledad; Nathan Lacy

Attendance: 3,867