2010 Feb 21
Preseason, La Manga Cup:
Sounders FC 2 - 0 Stabæk
La Manga Club, Spain
30' SEA: Fredy Montero (Freddie Ljungberg)
42' SEA: Roger Levesque (Freddie Ljungberg)
Seattle: Kasey Keller; Leo Gonzalez (Tyson Wahl 46'), Tyrone Marshall (Jeff Parke 46'), Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (Jamel Wallace 60'), James Riley (Zach Scott 60'); David Estrada (Steve Zakuani 60'), Osvaldo Alonso (Stephen King 60'), Nathan Sturgis (Peter Vagenas 46'), Roger Levesque; Freddie Ljungberg (Lamar Neagle 60'), Fredy Montero (Tye Perdido 60').
Stabæk: Jon Knudsen; Vegar Hedenstad, Morten Skjønsberg, Kristian Onstad (Daniel Nannskog 45'), Bjani Eiriksson; Mikkel Diskerud (Tor Marius Gromstad 46'), Pálmi Pálmason, Henning Hauger (Diogo 46'), Pontus Farnerud; Espen Hoff (Jørgen Skjelvik 68'), Veigar Páll Gunnarsson (Jan Tømmernes 68').
Match report from Sounders FC:
The Sounders FC had some issues to clear up following their 3-0 loss to Rosenborg BK in their first game of the La Manga Cup. On Sunday against Stabaek IF, it became clear very quickly that those deficiencies had been addressed.
Goals by Fredy Montero and Roger Levesque, both assisted by Freddie Ljungberg, put the Sounders up 2-0 in the first half. Then a stingy defense and a gutsy effort by Levesque in the second half kept Stabæk at bay and gave the Sounders a 2-0 win as Kasey Keller picked up the clean sheet.
From the second minute of the match it was apparent that issues of off-the-ball movement and aggressiveness in the offensive end wouldn't plague them again this game. Osvaldo Alonso took a pass from Montero at the top of the box and shot. His attempt missed wide, but it showed a much more assertive approach.
"That was something we talked about. We didn't think our movement off the ball was very good in the first game. We didn't think our endeavor was always very good either," Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. "We wanted to address those two things and I thought it was much better."
That mentality held throughout and led to the Sounders' first goal in the 30th minute.
Ljungberg muscled away a Stabæk midfielder, then pushed the ball up the field with Montero trailing immediately behind him. With five Stabæk players back on the defensive end, Ljungberg slowed possession before laying off a pass. Then Alonso led Ljungberg with a pass into the box that drew some of the defensive focus to Ljungberg running toward the right post. He slid the ball to Montero running across the goal to the near post and Montero beat his defender to the ball, popping it into the net for the 1-0 lead.
"It demonstrated our patience as well," Ljungberg said. "(Alonso) could've shot it if he wanted to but he passed it and soon it was scored in the net. I think that's the way it should be played, but for me it showed we were patient in the team on that specific goal."
In the 34th minute, Ljungberg nearly made it 2-0 when Alonso found him with another pass into the box, but Ljungberg's shot missed just wide of the goal.
The movement that marked the game for the Sounders wasn't limited to the midfielders and forwards either. In the 43rd minute Leo Gonzalez ran up the left side of the box, but his cross to Levesque was cleared away for a corner kick.
Ljungberg struck the corner kick perfectly to Levesque running at the near post and Levesque headed it home for the 2-0 lead in the 43rd minute.
"I got in right place at the right time and Freddie whipped a great ball, as he usually does and I found the back of the net," Levesque said, crediting assistant coach Brian Schmetzer's extra work with him after practice for helping find his finishing touch.
Seattle subbed nine new field players in the second half, leaving only Levesque and the goalkeeper Keller in for the whole 90 minutes. That didn't change the Sounders approach though, as they continued to dominate defensively while moving the ball at will on the offensive end.
In the 66th minute, trialist Jeff Parke carried the ball up the middle of the field - a skill he showed great acumen for throughout the second half - and laid it off to the right side. Eventually, it came centered to Levesque, who fell victim to a hard tackle and had to be taken off with a sprained ankle. He stayed off for nearly 10 minutes before returning with a noticeable limp, helping the Sounders finish the clean sheet with a good defensive performance.
"He's a pretty tough customer," Schmid said of Levesque. "He gets out there and takes care of business, and he's always one who will do whatever he can to help the team. I tried to explain to him to stay up front, but it's sort of tough to tell Roger not to work. He just gets on the field and starts working."
The Sounders will take Monday off before returning to the training field on Tuesday. They will play a training game on Wednesday and their final game of the La Manga Cup Thursday to finish off the Spanish leg of training camp.
Throw-ins: Ivory Coast midfielder Felix Ettien will not be able to train or play with Sounders FC after taking ill on Saturday…Brazilian trialist midfielder Rayner Michael is no longer training with the team…Sunday marked the first appearance of Steve Zakuani, who was cleared to play with a brace on his surgically repaired right shoulder. Central defender Jeff Parke saw his first action, playing the second half…Seattle will play a 60-minute training game with Danish club FC Midtjylland on Wednesday morning. The team will not train on Monday.
Freddie Ljungberg, Sounders FC forward
On the team's improved play in its second tournament match: We were tired and we didn't play good at all in the first game. We were really tired and wanted to make amends for that. We lost too easily and we needed to make a better match today and I think we did. It feels good. Some parts of the game we were very comfortable. It was a well deserved win I think.
On the team's emphasis on quicker passes and movement: It's something we should work on every week and every day. I think it's one of those things we can just get better. I think it worked a couple of times today but we can still get a lot better at it, but it worked much today than it did a couple weeks ago.
On the game's first goal: It demonstrated our patience as well. Ossie could've shot it if he wanted to but he passed it and soon it was scored in the net. I think that's the way it should be played. But for me it showed we were patient in the team on that specific goal.
Roger Levesque, Sounders FC midfielder/forward
On the team's improved movement: I think in the first half and the second half, guys were looking for that third man running. A ball gets played in, you're not a necessarily going to get to that first pass, but maybe the second. It's something we're trying to concentrate on. I think we improved on it and there's a ways to go but it was step in the right direction.
On his goal: I had some good finishing touches the last few days, good crossing finishing touches with Brian Schmetzer the last few days. His energy and enthusiasm in and around the goal rubbed off on me. I got in the right place at the right time and Freddie whipped a great ball, as he usually does and I found the back of the net.
On being the only field player to play the full 90 minutes: I love to play, is kind of what I comes down to. Whether it's a half or 15 minutes or a full game, just being out there and being able to contribute is great. I feel like I'm fit enough to do it, and it was alright.
Sigi Schmid, Sounders FC Coach
On improved off the ball movement: That was something we talked about. We didn't think our movement off the ball was very good in the first game. We didn't think our endeavor was always very good either. We wanted to address those two things and I thought it was much better. We scored a good first goal, with Montero making a good near post run off that combination. We had Ljungberg in on another good run, with Ozzie laying the ball in. We scored on a corner kick which involves off the ball running as well, even though it's a corner kick. Overall I thought we created five or six really good looks in the first half, really good chances and our movement was much better. The movement of Ljungberg and Montero and Estrada at times. I thought Roger Levesque played very well also.
On Roger Levesque's toughness: We needed somebody to go 90 today and he's probably the guy right now overall in training, who's been the fittest guy for us. When he took the hit to his ankle, it was a little bit of an ankle sprain but more studs than anything else. The rules wouldn't allow for us to bring someone else back in, so he's a pretty tough customer. He gets out there and takes care of business, and he's always one who will do whatever he can to help the team. I wanted to make sure he didn't hurt himself so we took our time to make sure he got a good tape job. I tried to explain to him to stay up front, but it's sort of tough to tell Roger not to work. He just gets on the field and starts working.
On the boost of winning: Obviously the positive out of the loss is it sometimes it wakes you up. Sometimes you need a little wake-up call. The positives today are that we showed our character, we showed our ability to react to a loss and to a performance that we weren't happy with on Thursday. We showed a lot of character to come back. We showed a lot of ability be able to add the things to our game that we didn't have in our game the first time. Our focus and concentration was much, much better. The performances of some individuals – Montero, Levesque, Ozzie –was very good today. I thought Alonso was good. I thought Nate Sturgis stepped for us and played very well in the middle of midfield. Leo Gonzalez coming back in at left back. There were a couple lineup changes and it's a reflection of how people perform from game to game as well. The real positive, though, is our character, which was an important part of what we did last year.