2007 Sep 14

Playoffs, round 1, leg 1:
Carolina RailHawks 0 - 2 Seattle Sounders
SAS Soccer Park, Cary, NC

Carolina: Chris McClellan; David Stokes, Frankie Sanfillipo, Chad Dombrowski, Caleb Norkus (Joey Worthen 64'); Kupono Low, Stuart Brightwell (McColm Cephas 79'), Connally Edozien (Kevin Jeffrey 85'), Chris Carrieri (Phillip Long 75'), Johnny Steele; Anthony Maher (Joel Bailey 75').

Seattle: Chris Eylander; Danny Jackson, Taylor Graham, Zach Scott, Kevin Sakuda; Kenji Treschuk, Leighton O'Brien, Josh Gardner (Noah Merl 84'), Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar; Roger Levesque (Greg Howes 73'), Sebastien Le Toux (Andre Schmid 76').

48' SEA: Scott (O'Brien)
82' SEA: Schmid

Additional match reports: Sounders, RailHawks, Cary News, News & Observer, GOALSeatle.com.

Match report from Ron Stickney, based on the webcast:

On a waterlogged pitch, the Seattle Sounders opened their 2007 playoffs with a 2-0 road win over the Carolina RailHawks. The defense came up big, as left back Zach Scott opened the scoring and goalkeeper Chris Eylander made some outstanding saves late in the match to keep his net clean. Substitute Andre Schmid netted a valuable second road goal. In the end, the result was due to fairly constant offensive pressure by the Sounders and excellent defending.

Kickoff was delayed 40 minutes waiting for a lightning storm to clear, and there was a small lake in the center circle at kickoff time. The rain was still pouring down at kickoff, but let up about 20 minutes into the match.

First Half

The Sounders had plenty of good chances in the opening half, but couldn't complete a goal. In the 10th minute, goalkeeper Chris McClellan nearly paid a price for coming out for a long free kick to the far post, headed looping on goal by Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar after a cross, but headed clear from the goal plane by Kupono Low. The ball came down at the far post, but McClellan recovered just in time to punch it away from Roger Levesque's head.

A minute later for Seattle Levesque's headed pass forward gave Sebastien Le Toux his first chance in a puddle at the top left corner of the penalty area, but with the ball clinging to the puddle he couldn't get enough air on the chip attempt.

Carolina's first shot came at 13' when Anthony Maher got his head onto a service into the penalty area, but he was pressured and couldn't get the shot on goal.

Seattle defensive midfielder Kenji Treschuk had a rare chance when he was almost sprung up the middle in the 19th, but Frankie Sanfillipo made a saving slide tackle of the ball just inside the penalty area.

Carolina came close in the 23rd when Chris Carrieri's low shot from 20 yards was redirected by Maher and went a yard or two wide of the far post.

For Seattle in the 24th, Leighton O'Brien's 30-yard free kick skipped past the wall and forced a good save by McClellan at the far post.

Carolina's last shot on goal in the half came at 26' when Sanfillipo tried from 35 yards and Eylander dropped for the save.

The best of the rest of the half were a pair of dangerous crosses, from Alcaraz-Cuellar, then Le Toux, both for Levesque on the charge, and both dealt with just in time by McClellan.

Halftime: Carolina 0 - 0 Seattle

48' SEA: Scott (O'Brien). The first corner kick of the match was taken quickly by O'Brien and sent past goal. Scott was alone to head a shot just under the center of the crossbar, as McClellan was unable to backpedal in time and could only wave at it. 1-0 Seattle.

The next ten minutes saw Seattle passing the ball in close to goal a few times, but each time the Carolina defense recovered just enough to prevent a good shot.

A long Carolina free kick in the 65th gave Eylander trouble, but he managed to punch it well wide and out. A closer free kick at 71' was aimed by Kupono Low at the top near corner, but in spite of a good shot Eylander was there expecting it.

The revolving door was running continuously for several minutes starting at 72' as Seattle rested both starting forwards, Levesque and Le Toux, and Carolina brought on 8 fresh legs.

Carolina came very close to leveling the score in the 79th. Substitute Phillip Long powered a shot from the top of the arc and Eylander leaped sideways and at the post slapped it wide with one hand for the save of the match. On the resulting corner kick play, the ball was knocked to Johnny Steele for a 15-yard low shot at the far post, and Eylander made another fine save, collapsing on the shot.

82' SEA: Schmid. Just when Carolina looked like they were building towards a goal, substitute Schmid broke their hearts with a strong individual effort for an insurance goal. On the front line at the halfway line, Schmid was served a forward pass. He turned on it to cleanly beat defender David Stokes, then muscled past defender Chad Dombrowski, who fell. It was off to the races, and from the 18 Schmid finished low to the far corner beating the charging McClellan. 2-0 Seattle.

Carolina's Kevin Jeffrey provided the last drama in the 88th minute shortly after entering. He curled a fine, hard shot from 25 yards that was diving down under the bar, but Eylander played it perfectly, backtracking and leaping at just the right time to push it over the bar and preserve the shutout.

Final: Carolina 0 - 2 Seattle

          Carolina   Seattle
Shots:       11         9
Saves:        5         6
Corners:      2         1
Fouls:       16        16
Offsides:     0         6

40' CAR: Norkus cautioned for a cleats-first slide into Levesque
70' CAR: Maher cautioned for tripping Treschuk
72' SEA: Sakuda cautioned for a tactical foul on Maher


Attendance: 923