2010 Feb 11

Sanna Nyassi scores twice in a preseason win over the Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Preseason training match:
Sounders FC  3 - 2  Vancouver Whitecaps
Grande Sports World, Casa Grande, AZ

36' VAN: Marlon James (Ansu Toure)
39' VAN: Ansu Toure (Marlon James)
49' SEA: Lamar Neagle (Josh Gardner)
50' SEA: Sanna Nyassi
88' SEA: Sanna Nyassi (Nathan Sturgis)

Seattle: Chris Eylander (Derby Carillo 46'); Zach Scott (Tyson Wahl 46'), Patrick Ianni (Jamel Wallace 46'), Tyrone Marshall (Taylor Graham 46', Tyrone Marshall 53', Roger Levesque 86'), Eric Winblad (Brad Evans 46'); Gao Leilei (Josh Gardner 46'), Peter Vagenas (Nathan Sturgis 46'), Osvaldo Alonso (Stephen King 46'), Jacob Lousky (Lamar Neagle 46'); Roger Levesque (Jarrod Smith 46'), David Estrada (Sanna Nyassi 46').

Vancouver: Jay Nolly (Dan Pelc 75'); Chris Williams, Wesley Charles (Nelson Akwari 56'), Greg Janicki (Luca Bellisomo 73'), Takashi Hirano (Zourab Tsiskaridze 75'); Justin Moose (Nizar Khalfan 56'), Martin Nash (Ethan Gage 68'), Ricardo Sanchez (Phillipe Davies 75'), Ansu Toure (Russell Tiebert 75'); Marlon James (Alex Semenets 56'), Randy Edwini-Bonsu (Cornelius Stewart 26').

Match report from Sounders FC:

The Sounders FC finished the second leg of training camp with as positive an outcome as they could have hoped for Thursday morning.

Seattle squared off with their Cascadia rivals to the north, the Vancouver Whitecaps FC, in a training game Thursday to cap off a tough nine days of training at Grande Sports World in Casa Grande, Arizona.

After falling behind 2-0 midway through the first half, the Sounders exploded for three second half goals, two of which came off the foot of Sanna Nyassi, and finished with a 3-2 win to return to Seattle with victorious smiles on their faces.

"I thought we made a couple of defensive mistakes in the first half that gave them goals. I thought we were unlucky at the other end of the field a couple of times, Estrada and so forth trying to get in and bad final passes," Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. "But then I think in the second half we showed a lot of character. The guys came out, we made them aware of they were playing high. Balls over the top were on. Sanna's speed made a difference. It always feels good to win games even if they're training games."

The Sounders dominated possession over the game's first 20 minutes, but could not generate any shots out of it. Their first shot, in fact, didn't come until Tyrone Marshall unleashed a shot from distance in the 43rd minute. Several other opportunities were thwarted by Vancouver's veteran backline and goalkeeper Jay Nolly before a shot could be taken.

On the other end, Marshall kept the Whitecaps from threatening almost single-handedly, knocking balls away on possession after possession. But a defensive breakdown found Marlon Jame alone in front of an open corner of the net to knock in a rebound and give the Whitecaps a 1-0 lead in the 36th minute.

Then in the 39th minute, Ansu Toure ripped a shot from the left side of the box and the Sounders found themselves trailing 2-0.

The second half saw the Sounders go with a lineup of fresh legs and they exploded into an instant offensive outburst.

After already threatening to breach the net in the first four minutes of the second half, the Sounders earned a corner kick in the 49th minute. Midfielder Josh Gardner swung the ball in from the right corner and Neagle crashed into the box for a header that found the net for the Sounders first goal.

Before the whistle had cleared from the ears of the crowd that went well over 100 by the time the game got underway, the Sounders were on the board again.

This time, Nyassi broke away up the right channel and went one-on-one with Nolly, getting just enough on a shot to knock it past the keeper and into the net to even the score at 2-2.

Playing in control of possession most of the rest of the way, the Sounders broke through again as the clock wound down.

In a great individual effort, Nathan Sturgis weaved his way through the Vancouver defense on the left side before finding Nyassi in the middle with enough space to blast the ball with a clear path to the goal and a 3-2 lead.

"Sometimes with Sanna playing up top is easier for him because it gives him a lot more tactical freedom to run around and do his thing. From that standpoint he was free today to do that and because of the way they played really gave him a chance to expose his speed," Schmid said. "With a little bit more he could've probably had four today, four or five. But he came up with a big goal with his second goal. It was also a great play by Nate Sturgis."

The Sounders had a bit of a scare early in the second half when Taylor Graham hit the grass holding his hamstring. Plagued with foot injuries the entire 2009 season, Graham had been a highlight of Casa Grande throughout the nine-day leg of training camp. Fortunately though, he was taken off for precautionary measures and his injury did not appear serious enough that it will cause him to miss a significant portion of training camp.

The Sounders rested several key starters like Kasey Keller, Freddie Ljungberg and Fredy Montero and had a good enough stretch of training sessions to leave Arizona with confidence as they transition into the competition leg of training camp in La Manga, Spain, beginning on Tuesday.

"Anytime you win games, it always helps the team and helps the spirit of the squad. We got a lot of good fitness work in. The guys are looking forward to three days off and getting away from each other for a little bit, and we go into the game phase now in La Manga," Schmid said. "I think we accomplished what we wanted to accomplish here. We were able to see some trialists as well. We were able to get them into good game situations and I think we can make some decisions for guys who've had the opportunity to show."

The Sounders return to Seattle later this evening and will take three days off before departing for La Manga on Monday. They will train their on Tuesday before facing Norwegian side Rosenborg BK on Thursday in the first of three games scheduled while the Sounders are in Spain for the La Manga Cup II.

Additionally, the Sounders will face the Whitecaps again March 6 at Swangard Stadium in Burnaby, BC. The pre-season match is scheduled for a 4 pm kickoff. All tickets for the match will cost $15, plus applicable service charges and will be available on Wednesday, February 17, at 10 am online at ticketmaster.ca or by calling 604.280.4400.

And on March 12 the Sounders will host the Portland Timbers at Qwest Field in their first Community Shield match. Already over 5,000 tickets have been sold in the first 24 hours of availability. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for youth (6-17). Children under the age of six are free. Tickets will be available at www.SoundersFC.com, by calling 800-745-3000, all Ticketmaster outlets and the Qwest Field Box office. Proceeds from the match will benefit the team's four community partners: Boys and Girls Club of Washington State, Save the Children, Seattle SCORES and Washington Youth Soccer.

65' VAN: Akwari cautioned

Match report from Vancouver Whitecaps:

Vancouver Whitecaps FC fell 3-2 to Major League Soccer (MLS) club Seattle Sounders FC in the opening match of their two-week pre-season trip to Casa Grande, Arizona, on Thursday.

Teitur Thordarson's side made a fine start to the friendly contest at the Grande Sports World facility, as goals by Marlon James and Ansu Toure gave the Blue and White a two-goal halftime lead. However, after changing his entire line-up at the break, Sigi Schmid's Sounders levelled matters with early second-half strikes from Lamar Neagle and Sanna Nyassi. The Washington State outfit then claimed victory in the dying stages with a fine second goal from Nyassi. The win was Seattle's second-straight pre-season result over the Whitecaps. On February 22, 2009, the MLS club defeated Vancouver 4-0 in a closed-door friendly match at Seattle's Qwest Field.

In what was their second full day in Arizona, the 'Caps struggled for possession of the ball in the early stages of the match, though James did well to create the game's first chance on 16 minutes, with the striker forcing a good save from Sounders goalkeeper Chris Eylander. Vancouver were then forced into an early substitution on 26 minutes, as Cornelius Stewart replaced Randy Edwini-Bonsu in attack after the Canadian international went down with a suspected hamstring problem.

The Whitecaps broke the deadlock on 36 minutes. After Toure did well to force Eylander into a save with his run and shot from the left-hand side, the rebound fell kindly for James to make it 1-0. Three minutes later, the 'Caps doubled their advantage with a flowing move. Substitute Stewart eluded a Sounders marker before finding James with his pass. The striker then played in Toure from the left-hand side before the speedy winger beat Eylander for a 2-0 Vancouver lead.

It was a superb end to the opening half for the Whitecaps, but the second half proved more of a challenge, as a new and motivated Sounders XI stepped on to the pitch for the game's restart.

On 49 minutes, Neagle made the most of a Josh Gardner corner by heading home to make it 2-1. A minute later, the dangerous Nyassi beat Whitecaps goalkeeper Jay Nolly with an incisive run and shot from the right flank for 2-2.

Much of the second half saw Thordarson make several substitutions, with Nelson Akwari, Alex Semenets, and Nizar Khalfan all entering the match on 56 minutes, while youngster Ethan Gage replaced captain Martin Nash on 68 minutes.

Then after Nyassi's 69th-minute goal was disallowed for offside, the 'Caps made five more changes for the game's final stages. Goalkeeper Dan Pelc, defenders Luca Bellisomo and Zourab Tsiskaridze, and midfielders Philippe Davies and Russell Teibert all received a run out against their Interstate 5 rivals.

Chances were traded at both ends before Seattle secured the win with a second goal from Nyassi on 88 minutes. The Gambian youngster took a pass from Nathan Sturgis before blasting a fine first-time shot past Pelc to give the Sounders a 3-2 victory.

Despite the defeat, Thordarson was pleased with the effort from his side. "It was an interesting first game, and I thought we played quite well," he told whitecapsfc.com from Arizona. "We got in 2-0 front, but gave up three goals through bad mistakes we made in the second half. It's a disappointing result, but for the most part, I thought we performed well against a good MLS opponent. We'll train over the weekend and look ahead to our next game on Monday."

Monday afternoon's friendly is against another MLS opponent, as the Whitecaps take on Chicago Fire at Arizona State University Soccer Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. PT.

The Whitecaps will also meet the Sounders again this pre-season. On Saturday, March 6, Schmid's side make their first-ever trip to British Columbia to take on Vancouver at Swangard Stadium in Burnaby, BC. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. PT. Tickets for the Swangard friendly are $15, plus applicable service charges. Whitecaps season ticket holders will receive priority purchase rights, with the remaining tickets being available to the public on Wednesday, February 17, at 10 a.m. PT. Tickets will be available online at ticketmaster.ca or by calling 604.280.4400.

Running blog from Sounders FC (with minor editing):

Vancouver is in all white and Seattle is wearing green training tops with shale shorts and green socks.

01 - Vancouver kicks off, attacking the south goal.
02 - Good tackle by Pat Ianni earns the Sounders possession in the midfield.
02 - But a hard foul by Pat a moment later gives Vancouver a free kick just inside the midfield stripe.
03 - Peter Vagenas lofts a ball into the attacking third but nobody is there to flag it down and Vancouver's goalkeeper picks it up.
05 - Great effort by David Estrada to chase down a defender near the box, but he and Roger Levesque miscommunicate and Vancouver recovers possession.
05 - Zach Scott plays a ball forward to Roger Levesque, but it eludes his reach and Vanouver picks it up.
06 - David Estrada finds Gao Leilei on the left sideline, but he is whistled offside.
07 - Great ball by Zach Scott to lead Gao Leilei up the left sideline and the ball is knocked away for a Seattle throw-in.
11 - Hard ball up the middle by the Sounders, who are controlling most of possession so far, but too much pace for David Estrada to reach.
13 - Gao Leilei controls a ball out of the airand slows down possession as the Sounders regroup.
13 - Marlon James gets through the Seattle defense, but is blown offside.
15 - Strong run by Gao Leilei up the left sideline, but his cross is defended away for a throw in deep in Vancouver territory.
15 - Another ball played forward for David Estrada, but he is whistled offside in a close call. Jacob Lousky was tackled on the play and was slow to return to his feet, but is up and running now.
16 - Marlon James takes the game's first shot from 25 yards out with his left foot, but Chris Eylander dives to his left to make the save at the near post.
20 - Tyrone Marshall makes an easy tackle just outside the box to turn a short Vancouver possession Seattle's way. The Sounders twice try to play the ball over the top, but Vancouver beat them to the ball.
21 - Vancouver tries to find Marlon James coming forward, but Tyrone Marshall again steps in front to poke the ball clear. James comes back to take another pass in the midfield and is toppled to the ground to earn a free kick.
23 - Justin Moose makes a run into the box, but the ball is knocked away. A moment later, Randy Edwini-Bonsu goes down with an apparent injury to his hamstring. He is taken off the field and the teams convene at their benches. Seattle had possesssion and Vancouver throws the ball back to them as play restarts.
26 - Vancouver subs Cornelius Stewart in for Edwini-Bonsu.
27 - Tyrone Marshall is doing an incredible job controlling Seattle's backline. He just steopped in front of another Vancouver run and made the stop look elementary.
29 - Seattle gets the ball into the Vancouver box, but only briefly as the Whitecaps turn possession the other way.
30 - Sigi Schmid's prediction that Vancouver would be a bit fresher since the Sounders have had a few weeks of hard conditioning is starting to materialize as Vancouver is taking more and more possession.
31 - Vancouver shoots from the left side, but misses outside the near post.
32 - Jacob Lousky tries to find David Estrada on the attack, but leads him too far and Jay Nolly controls the pass.
33 - Gao Leilei jumps too early on a pass from Osvaldo Alonso and is called offside.
34 - Justin Moose takes possession against the sideline and charges up the field, but his cross is easily knocked clear by Tyrone Marshall.
35 - Jacob Lousky sends a great ball forward to Roger Levesque, who gets behind the defense and centers a pass to David Estrada, but his touch shot misses outside the far post.
36 - Vancouver turns the other way and puts one in the net. It's the unknown Number 8 that knocks in a loose ball at the left post to put Vancouver up 1-0.
39 - It's Cornelius Stewart [later corrected to Marlon James] with the goal ... and right as I find that out, Vancouver goes on the attack again and ...
39 - Ansu Toure rips a shot from the left side that beats Chris Eylander for the goal. Vancouver leads 2-0.
42 - Jacob Lousky and Gao Leilei have now switched sides, with Lousky now on the left and Gao on the right.
43 - Tyrone Marshall takes some initiative with a shot from 35 yards out, but misses well high for a goal kick.
45 - Osvaldo Alonso plays a ball forward to David Estrada, who touches out to make a run behind the Vancouver defense, but his touch goes too far and Jay Nolly snares the ball.
46+ - The referee blows the whistle for halftime. Your score, Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2, Seattle Sounders FC 0.

Sounders FC second half starters: Derby Carillo, Tyson Wahl, Jamel Wallace, Taylor Graham, Brad Evans, Josh Gardner, Nathan Sturgis, Stephen King, Lamar Neagle, Jarrod Smith, Sanna Nyassi.

46 - Seattle kicks off to start the second half, attacking the south goal.
47 - Fresh legs already paying off for the Sounders. Josh Gardner makes a run up the left side and earns a throw in. On the throw, Tyson Wahl gets up the left side and crosses to the middle, but it's knocked away for a corner kick.
49 - Another Seattle shot is deflected away for a corner kick.
49 - Sounders FC goal!!! Lamar Neagle heads in the corner kick for the goal. Vancouver 2, Sounders FC 1.
50 - Sanna Nyassi evens the score on the next Seattle possession, making a run up the right side of the box and getting just enough on his run to get it past Jay Nolly for the goal!!! Sounders FC 2, Whitecaps 2.
52 - Great run up the middle by Lamar Neagle, but he's pulled down by Wes Charles. No foul is called and Vancouver turns possession the other way. They make a play into Seattle's end, but Derby Carillo hammers it clear for a Vancouver throw-in. On the play, Taylor Graham goes down with an ailment ... it doesn't look related to the foot injuries that plagued him in 2009, but he is pulled off the field for Tyrone Marhsall, nonetheless.
55 - Jarrod Smith gets into a shot from the top of the box, but it squirts wide for a goal kick.
59 - Hard run by Sanna Nyassi up the left side and he's being defended from behind as Jay Nolly sprawls out to make the stop. Nyassi collides with him as he makes the grab and is whistled for the foul.
61 - Free kick for Vancouver from 20 yards out is knocked clear by Seattle's defense.
63 - Loooong shot taken by Vancouver misses wide right and Carillo takes the goal kick.
65 - Sanna Nyassi bolts around the Vancouver defense on the rigth side and is grabbed from behind for a yellow card by one of Vancouver's subs. I'll get a name when it comes available. Josh Gardner takes the free kick, but it is nabbed by Jay Nolly. Going the other direction, Jamel Wallace runs with the Vancouver forward and knocks the ball clear for a Vancouver throw-in.
68 - Vancouver's subs are Nelson Akwari at center back, Alex Sements at forward and Ethan Gagae and Nazar Khalfan in the midfield.
69 - Sanna Nyassi appears to put Seattle up 3-2 on a smash off a rebound, but he is called offside.
72 - Vancouver crosses a ball into the box from the left side and Seattle gets a foot on it to knock it clear for a corner kick.
72 - Jamel Wallace is off the field now, being tended to for what looks like a bloody nose.
73 - Vancouver subbed in Luca Bellisomo a moment ago and is now adding three more subs to the list ... they will be available shortly.
75 - Vancouver's subs are Zourab, Russell Tiebert and Phillipe Davies.
76 - Alex Sements shoots for Vancouver, but it's deflected and Derby Carillo makes the grab.
77 - Sanna Nyassi makes a run up the right side, but his cross eludes the players attacking up the middle.
79 - Hard ball forward for Sanna Nyassi and Lamar Neagle, but the keeper comes out to make the grab.
80 - Jarrod Smith is fouled 28 yards out for a free kick. Josh Gardner takes the kick, but his hard shot misses wide right.
81 - Tyrone Marshall blasts a ball forward for Sanna Nyassi up the right side, but his cross goes a little past Josh Gardner at the far post.
83 - Brad Evans is playing a very vocal role at right back. He's looked good there so far as Sigi continues to look for a fill-in for James Riley on opening night.
86 - The Vancouver staff leaps from their bench as they are called offside on a run. And Roger Levesque subs on for Tyrone Marshall. He moves to right mid, Lamar Neagle is at left back and Tyson Wahl moves to center back.
87 - Sanna Nyassi makes a run up the middle and goes one-on-one with the keeper, but he gets his chest on it and knocks it away for a corner kick.
88 - Nathan Sturgis weaves up the left side and finds Sanna Nyassi for a blast from the middle for a goal!!! Sounders FC 3, Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2. Beautiful goal by Nyassi who has been pretty solid up top. The gentleman to my left says it reminds him of himself in his younger days ... I'm not sure why, but I believe him.
90 - The referee blows the whistle to end the game. Final score Sounders FC 3, Whitecaps FC 2.