2007 Sep 9

Minnesota Thunder 0 - 1 Seattle Sounders
James Griffin Stadium, St. Paul, MN

Minnesota: Nicolas Platter; Kevin Friedland, Kyle Zenoni (Keisuke Ota 76'), Derek Smith, Kevin Taylor; Brian Farber, Jeremiah Bass, Sasha Gotsmanov (Craig Mallace 85'), Rodrigo Hidalgo (Ansu Toure 63', sent off 73'); Leo Gibson, Darren Spicer. Substitutes not used: Joe Warren, Jonathan Greenfield, Brian Pederson, Alejandro De La Mora.

Seattle: Chris Eylander; Danny Jackson, Taylor Graham, Zach Scott, Kevin Sakuda; Kenji Treschuk, Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar, Josh Gardner (Andre Schmid 77'), Leighton O'Brien; Roger Levesque, Sebastien Le Toux (Noah Merl 84'). Substitutes not used: Ben Dragavon, Jake Besagno, Nathan Knox, Craig Tomlinson.

14' SEA: O'Brien

Additional match reports: Thunder.
Photos: Jeremy Olson.

Match report from the Seattle Sounders:

The Seattle Sounder clinched the USL First Division regular season title Sunday afternoon in Minnesota with their ninth 1-0 victory of the season.

The victory in the regular season finale means the Sounders will face the expansion Carolina Railhawks in the first round of the playoffs with the first leg being played Friday night in Carolina and the Sounders home leg being played Sunday September 16th at Qwest Field. Kick-off for the match is set for 6pm and tickets are available Monday morning September 10th at 10am through SeattleSounders.net or by calling 206.622.3415.

Leighton O'Brien tallied the match's only goal in the 14th minute. It was his second of the year in league play. Goal keeper Chris Eylander earned his 14th win and 13th shutout of the season.

The match began with an entertaining pace with both teams exhibiting the form that led them to lopsided victories on Thursday night.

Leighton O'Brien took advantage of a miscue in the Thunder defense in the 18th minute and found himself with an easy route into the 18 yard box that he finished low and to the far post to give Seattle the early lead.

Two minutes after the goal Sebastien Le Toux crumbled under a challenge from Kyle Zenoni and Sounders fans held their collective breath as he limped off the field. The anxious moment was a short one as Le Toux came back into the match after a few moments of attention from Sounders trainer Randy Noteboom.

At the 24 minute mark, Thunder midfielder Rodrigo Hidalgo received the match's first yellow card after two more tackles from the Minnesota midfield left Roger Levesque and Kenji Treschuk on the turf. Both players recovered and were able to continue play.

Minnesota began to find hints of the potent attack that put five goals up against the Carolina Railhawks Thursday night, but the Sounders defended in mass and blocked the vast majority of the Thunder's shots before they could make it through to goal keeper Eylander.

When Eylander was called upon he was impressive, robbing Jeremiah Bass in the 36th minute and producing a series of less dramatic saves as Minnesota controlled the run of play through much of the first half.

Minnesota's Derek Smith was issued the second yellow of the match after a foul on Levesque. The official inexplicably blew the play dead even though Levesque had sprung strike partner Le Toux into a one on one situation with the Minnesota keeper.

The Sounders poured forward through the dying moments of the first half in search of a second goal, but it was not to be and their lead was kept at one going into the halftime break.

Both sides struggled to create the same entertainment value as they displayed in the first half through the first ten minutes of the second half. The Sounders showed some creativity in the offensive third, but were unable to turn their quick passing sequences into a quality chance to score.

Second half substitute Ansu Toure received a straight red card for a studs up challenge on Treschuk in the 73rd minute. Despite being down a man, the Thunder continued their offensive mindset, replacing defender Zenoni with forward Keisuke Ota in the 77th minute. Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer countered by inserting power forward Andre Schmid into the match in place of Josh Gardner.

Le Toux's chance to take the solo lead in the USL First Division goal scoring table ended in the 84th minute when he was replaced with defender Noah Merl as the Sounders shored up their back line, maintained the one goal lead and claimed the Commissioner's Cup trophy, awarded to the team with the best regular season record and the number one seed going into next week's playoffs.

The Sounders playoff series will be played in a home and away aggregate scoring format. Carolina claimed the eighth and final playoff spot with a 2-0 win over the California Victory in California Saturday night edging out Charleston and Miami in the three way race for the final berth.

Seattle recorded 1-0 victories in both of the previous matches between the clubs in 2007. Tickets for the playoff match are $18 for reserved seating and $13 for general admission.

         Minnesota   Seattle
Shots:       13        13
Saves:        2         1
Corners:      5         4
Fouls:       17         5
Offsides:     1         7

23' MIN: Hidalgo cautioned
42' MIN: Smith cautioned
57' SEA: Alcaraz-Cuellar cautioned
73' MIN: Toure sent off
83' SEA: Schmid cautioned
87' SEA: O'Brien cautioned
90' MIN: Mallace cautioned

Referees: Reggie Rutty; Sonar Dugan, Sam Truigi; Russel Schouweiler

Attendance: 4,348