2007 Sep 21

Playoffs, semifinals, leg 1:
Puerto Rico Islanders 1 - 2 Seattle Sounders
Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium, Bayamon, PR

Puerto Rico: Josh Saunders; Marco Velez, John Krause, Lars Lyssand (Mauricio Segovia 89'), Jay Needham (Willie Sims 74'); Jano Gonzalez (sent off 77'), Noah Delgado (Greg Simmonds 85'), Edwin Miranda, Petter Villegas (Victor Herrera 45'); Fabrice Noel, Tai Atieno. Substitutes not used: Michael Behonick, Alexis Rivera, David Johnson.

Seattle: Chris Eylander; Danny Jackson (sent off 56'), Taylor Graham, Zach Scott, Kevin Sakuda; Kenji Treschuk, Leighton O'Brien (Craig Tomlinson 89'), Josh Gardner (Noah Merl 60'), Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar (Adam West 86'); Roger Levesque (Andre Schmid 75'), Sebastien Le Toux (Greg Howes 68'). Substitutes not used: Ben Dragavon.

24' SEA: Alcaraz-Cuellar (O'Brien)

39' PR: Villegas
69' SEA: Treschuk (Levesque)

Additional match reports: Sounders.

Match report from Ron Stickney, based on the webcast:

In an incredible, emotional match, the Seattle Sounders escaped the Caribbean with a 2-1 win over the Puerto Rico Islanders. Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar's goal gave the Sounders the lead in the first half, but Petter Villegas brought the Islanders level before halftime. The match winner came from Sounders rookie Kenji Treschuk, his first league goal. Goalkeeper Chris Eylander was man of the match with multiple excellent saves in the second half.

The match was marred by a couple of seemingly undeserved red cards, early in the second half for Seattle sweeper Danny Jackson, then late in the second half for Puerto Rico midfielder Jano Gonzalez, the latter one via the second-yellow method.

The win was the first ever at Puerto Rico for the Sounders. The playoff semifinal series will conclude in Seattle two days later.

First Half

The first good attack came in the 12th minute when Seattle's Kevin Sakuda crossed from near the end line on the right, and Josh Saunders did well to dive out for the interception. A minute later was Puerto Rico's first chance, when from a throw-in play Fabrice Noel shot on goal from 15 yards and forced a good diving save at the near post by Chris Eylander.

Seattle thought they deserved a penalty kick when a shot was prevented by what might have been a foul in the box, but the ball ran to Leighton O'Brien for a quick shot that was deflected just wide of the near post for a corner. After arguing for a PK, the Sounders accepted the corner kick and were happy with the result.

24' SEA: Alcaraz-Cuellar (O'Brien). O'Brien's corner kick found Alcaraz-Cuellar's head at the near post, and the shot went inside the far post. 1-0 Seattle.

Two minutes later Sebastien Le Toux was almost sprung free up the middle, but Saunders slid out of his penalty area to clear it with his leg just before Le Toux could get a touch. Then Le Toux was soon through again and managed to serve a short pass in front of goal for Roger Levesque to run onto, but a defender touched it away just in time to prevent the shot.

Puerto Rico's offense was sparked to life around 32' when Gonzalez' free kick from the 18-yard line hit the crossbar squarely at the far corner. Continuing the pressure, Villegas fired a rocket from 20 yards and Eylander collapsed to block it with an excellent save at the near post. Then Tai Atieno got clear in the penalty area on the left but shot a yard from the far post when he seemed to have time to aim better.

39' PR: Villegas (Gonzalez). A Puerto Rico attack knocked the ball around until Gonzalez found Villegas open for a 25-yard shot from the right, and Villegas rocketed it in after taking a touch to set up. Eylander got a hand on it, but the deflection found the net. 1-1.

The half ended roughly. At 41' Le Toux was fouled in the head and missed most of the remainder of the half. Deep in quite a few minutes of added time, Villegas was fouled and limped off for the rest of the half to be replaced at intermission.

Halftime: Puerto Rico 1 - 1 Seattle

Puerto Rico peppered the Seattle goal in the first 5 minutes of the second half. At 47' an incredible 3-shot sequence started with Tai Atieno's 20-yard blast from the left, with a difficult block-save turned in by Eylander. The rebound stayed alive in the penalty area and was dropped for a 15-yard shot up the middle from substitute Victor Herrera, and the block by Eylander popped up in the air. The ball came down to Noel for a volley 2 yards from a gaping goal, but he somehow sent it over the bar and was left holding his head in frustration.

At 50' Eylander made two more reaction saves in rapid succession close to goal, and a quick third shot was blocked clear by a defender.

The pressure eased up then, but at 56' Lars Lyssand had a good try heading a corner kick but missed a yard wide of the far post.

The Seattle side could not believe it when Jackson was sent off with a straight red at 56'. A yellow was expected for getting Noah Delgado from behind with the ball coming in at the feet. Strangely, Puerto Rico's offense started struggling once they had the man advantage.

Seattle's first opportunity in the half didn't come until the 67th minute. Roger Levesque got to the end line near goal on the left for a cross, but Saunders was able to dive out to snare it.

69' SEA: Treschuk (Levesque). Seattle won a ball near the halfway line with Puerto Rico pushed up. Levesque was sprung up the middle a step clear. His marker caught him outside the penalty area, but Levesque managed a diagonal cross from the left side into the penalty area, this time out of Saunders' reach. Treschuk was on the far-post run and made no mistake, sending a low shot past the charging Saunders to the far side. 2-1 Seattle, on what would be their only shot of the half.

The Islanders seemed stunned for the next 5 minutes, then returned to the attack at 74' when Jay Needham's diagonal service into the penalty area was headed a millimeter over the bar by Atieno, settling on the roof.

It was the Islanders' turn for disbelief in the 77th minute when Gonzalez was shown his second yellow card for a seemingly routine foul in the air inside the circle. Gonzalez may have elbowed O'Brien in the head. The match would finish evened up at 10 men per side.

The Sounders defense, bolstered by a few substitutions, somehow prevented any good Puerto Rico chances until the 89th minute. Then the offensive pressure was relentless.

At 89' Edwin Miranda shot nicely up the middle from 16 yards and Eylander made another fine diving save, with a defender clearing the leftovers. At 90' Atieno suddenly was open for a 10-yard shot from the left, and Eylander made the save at the near post.

Five minutes of added time were displayed by the fourth official, and it produced no less than four more excellent chances for the home side. Noel got loose on the right for a 10-yard shot, but he hit the outside of the net. A 20-yard shot fired at the top near corner was saved by a flying Eylander, who pushed it onto the crossbar and over for a corner. A dangerous air cross into a crowd at the left post was won by Eylander, who just managed to punch it clear. The last chance found Atieno alone in possession at the top left corner of the goal area, but Eylander got there sliding to block the final shot.

Final: Puerto Rico 1 - 2 Seattle

       Puerto Rico   Seattle
Shots:       26         4
Saves:        0         9
Corners:      2         5
Fouls:       11        13
Offsides:     0         1

29' PR: Gonzalez cautioned for late tackle of Gardner
39' SEA: Gardner cautioned
39' PR: Krause cautioned
53' PR: Noel cautioned for a collision in the air with Eylander
56' SEA: Jackson sent off for a trip from behind, when a caution seemed more appropriate
77' PR: Gonzalez cautioned for a foul on O'Brien in the air and sent off for his second caution

Referees: Joe Carroccio; James Tosado, Juan Perez; Antonio Lopez

Attendance: 12,098