2008 Sep 26

Playoffs, round 1, leg 1:
Seattle Sounders  2 - 1  Montreal Impact
Starfire Sports Complex, Tukwila, WA

Seattle: Chris Eylander; Taylor Graham, Danny Jackson, Kevin Sakuda (sent off 78'), Zach Scott; Nik Besagno (Adam West 61'), Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar (Youssouf Kante 88'), Josh Gardner (Kenji Treschuk 82'), Leighton O'Brien; Roger Levesque (Sanna Nyassi 73'), Sébastien Le Toux. Substitutes not used: Ben Dragavon, Kevin Forrest, Andre Schmid.

Montreal: Matt Jordan; Cedric Joqueviel, Davy Uwimana (Adam Braz 55'), Leonardo Di Lorenzo, Stefano Pesoli (sent off 83'); Antonio Ribeiro, Simon Gatti, Tony Donatelli (Felix Brillant 55'), Mauro Biello (Severino Jefferson 81'); Rocco Placentino (Joey Gjertsen 63'), Roberto Brown. Substitutes not used: Andrew Weber, Pato Aguilera, Patrick Leduc.

15' SEA: Alcaraz-Cuellar (Le Toux)

21' MON: Pesoli (Addlery)
42' SEA: O'Brien (PK)

Additional match reports: Impact, Seattle P-I, Seattle Times, GOALSeattle.com.

Match report from the Sounders:

They finished a man down, but a goal up. For the Seattle Sounders, that'll have to do at the midpoint of their United Soccer Leagues First Division playoff series against Montreal.

Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar, making just his second start since early August, scored early in the first half, and Leighton O'Brien converted a penalty kick shortly before halftime as the Sounders hung on for a 2-1 victory against the Impact in the first leg of their opening-round total-goals match-up at Starfire Sports Complex.

"It would have been nice to have more goals going back to their place. But the pressure is on them to go get a goal," said O'Brien, who drilled his PK into the upper right side of the net at the 40:58 mark after Sebastien Le Toux was taken down in the penalty area by Davy Uwimana. "It's not even close to being over."

A win or a tie in Sunday's second leg at Montreal (2:00 pm PT) will send the defending-champion Sounders to the semifinals. If the Impact win by one goal, the teams will play series overtime to decide it; if they win by two or more on Sunday, they take the series and go to the semis.

However, the series is over for Sounders defensive stalwart Kevin Sakuda. He was sent off with a straight red card in the 78th minute after getting up from a collision with Montreal's Felix Brillant and shoved him away. In a match that already was getting chippy, referee Edvin Jurisevic immediately pulled out the red, leaving the Sounders down a man for the final 12 minutes (16 counting stoppage time).

But by game's end, both teams were playing short. Montreal's Stefano Pisoli, who scored his team's only goal, was shown two yellows during a span of eight minutes -- first in the 75th, then in the 83rd. The second one meant an automatic red, and he also will miss Sunday's rematch.

Altogether, eight cards -- six yellows and two reds -- were handed out by Jurisevic. "It was just two very good clubs trying to gain an advantage any way they can," O'Brien said of the intense physical play. "There's going to be pushing and shoving off the ball."

Seattle coach Brian Schmetzer expects more of the same come Sunday. He also made it clear that he'll remind his team to keep the heat-of-the-game emotions in check.

"Championship teams don't make mental mistakes like that," he said of Sakuda's early exit. "They just don't -- they rise above that kind of stuff. It's the playoffs. My team has to expect that."

"Any time you have two groups of men ... playing each other two days apart where there was a lot of physical play, it sets up as another physical match," Schmetzer said. "I don't think the guys are going to forget. There were a lot of little individual battles outside of what you saw."

The teams split this season's series, 1-1-1. Seattle's victory came at Montreal on July 13, as Sebastien Le Toux scored on an assist from O'Brien in the 73rd minute.

The Sounders took the initial lead on Friday in front of 2,865 fans on Alcaraz-Cuellar's goal at 13:58. Le Toux broke behind the Montreal defense into the left side of the box, but couldn't get off a clear shot. The ball went across to Roger Levesque stationed right near the penalty spot, but also couldn't fire.

Alcaraz-Cuellar then ran onto the loose ball and, from the right side of the spot, blasted it into the far left corner.

But the lead lasted for just six minutes. Montreal's Leonardo Dilorenzo took a free kick from about 28 yards away on the left side. He drove it into the box, where the first shot was blocked by Sounders goalkeeper Chris Eylander. But the ball rebounded right out to Pesoli, standing no more than a couple yards away from the net. He drove it into the roof at 20:02, creating a 1-1 tie.

The Sounders had three more almost-but-not-quites during the first half. Just 2 1/2 minutes after the Impact pulled even, Roger Levesque got the ball right in front of the Montreal net and let loose with a shot that flew just wide of the right post.

Earlier, Josh Gardner got the ball 10 yards away from the goal and ripped a shot toward the left post. But Jordan dove to his right and made the save on the line.

Seattle had a chance to take a 3-1 lead late in the 44th minute when Alcaraz-Cuellar, playing 40 yards up from the end line on the right wing side, floated a perfect target ball toward the far post. Zach Scott got a head to it, but Impact goalkeeper Matt Jordan saved it on the line.

O'Brien had a second-half opportunity that was denied on a sliding save by Jordan at the post. Antonio Ribeiro had a chance to tie it for Montreal in the 79th minute when he worked his way toward the top left corner of Eylander's front porch, but Eylander dove to his right to slap away the ball with his right hand.

QUICK KICKS -- The last time Seattle and Montreal met in the playoffs was the 2005 semifinals. The Impact rallied from a 2-0 deficit to pull out a 2-2 tie at Starfire, then came back from a 1-0 deficit and was on the brink of overtime in the second leg at Montreal before Roger Levesque scored in the 90th minute to help the Sounders win the game, 2-1, and the total-goals series, 4-3. Levesque's goal in that game was one of six he has scored in postseason play for the Sounders, making him the club's all-time leader in that department...Both goalkeepers in the series were league leaders in different statistical categories. Seattle's Eylander had the most saves (119), while Montreal's Jordan posted the top goals-against average of 0.76...Friday's match was the eighth straight at home for the Sounders. They went 2-3-2 on a seven-game homestand to end the regular season.

          Seattle   Montreal
Shots:       10        14
Saves:        8         4
Corners:      5         2
Fouls:       13        12
Offsides:     1         4

51' SEA: Besagno cautioned
61' SEA: Gardner cautioned
71' MON: Pesoli cautioned
75' SEA: Alcaraz-Cuellar cautioned
78' SEA: Sakuda sent off
83' MON: Pesoli cautioned and sent off for his second caution
86' MON: Braz cautioned
90' MON: Brown cautioned

Referees: Edvin Jurisevic; Jeff Hosking, Mike Rottersman; Cory Dean

Attendance: 2,865