2010 Oct 2

Africans power Sounders FC past Toronto FC

Seattle Sounders FC  3 - 2  Toronto FC

Qwest Field, Seattle, WA

16' TOR: Dwayne De Rosario (Maicon Santos)
21' SEA: Steve Zakuani (Osvaldo Alonso, Jeff Parke)
26' SEA: Blaise Nkufo (Nathan Sturgis)
59' SEA: Sanna Nyassi

88' TOR: Chad Barrett (Nicholas Lindsay, O'Brian White)

Seattle: Kasey Keller; Leo Gonzalez, Patrick Ianni, Jeff Parke, James Riley; Steve Zakuani, Osvaldo Alonso, Nathan Sturgis, Sanna Nyassi (Alvaro Fernandez 68'); Fredy Montero, Blaise Nkufo (Nate Jaqua 77'). Substitutes not used: Kevin Guppy, Zach Scott, Tyrone Marshall, Mike Seamon, Roger Levesque.

Toronto: Stefan Frei; Ty Harden, Adrian Cann, Nana Attakora (Nick Garcia 45'), Dan Gargan; Jacob Peterson (Nicholas Lindsay 61'), Julian de Guzman, Nick LaBrocca (O'Brian White 80'), Dwayne De Rosario; Maicon Santos, Chad Barrett. Substitutes not used: Jon Conway, Raivis Hscanovics, Maksim Usanov, Fuad Ibrahim.

Match report from Ron Stickney:

Seattle Sounders FC got goals from all three of their African players, Steve Zakuani, Blaise Nkufo, and Sanna Nyassi, to win 3-2 over the visiting Toronto FC. Toronto scored first and last with goals from Dwayne De Rosario and Chad Barrett.

The win brings Seattle close to clinching a playoff spot and leaves Toronto on the brink of elimination from the playoff race.

Seattle had all of the early chances. Nyassi sprinted to a through ball to earn his first shot in the first minute, sending a low shot inches wide of the far post. James Riley's cross in front of goal was not cleared by the Toronto defense, and Zakuani got a shot from close that was stopped only by a defender's arm. Zakuani thought it should be a penalty kick for handling, but referee Mark Geiger decided that it was not deliberate handling. Fredy Montero had the next chance but did not strike up the middle with enough velocity.

Toronto's first shot came at 10 minutes from a throw-in play that led to a shot sent wide by Maicon Santos.

Seattle came right back when Nkufo's timed run put him close to goal on the left for a shot that was deflected wide, knocking over Stefan Frei's water bottle.

16' TOR: De Rosario (Santos). Santos was held for several seconds near the circle by Patrick Ianni, but Geiger allowed advantage as Santos managed the forward pass he wanted and it went through for De Rosario on the left. De Rosario's shot from 10 yards beat Jeff Parke's slide and beat Kasey Keller to the top near corner. 1-0 Toronto. On the play, Parke dislocated his finger.

Seattle responded by scoring on their next two opportunities.

21' SEA: Zakuani (Alonso, Parke). On a Seattle attack, sore-finger Parke passed ahead to Alonso in the middle, and he rolled a nice weighted ball up the middle for Zakuani, who might have been offside on the play. The flag stayed down, and Zakuani beat Frei to the ball, touched it wide of Frei, and tapped it into the empty goal. 1-1.

26' SEA: Nkufo (Sturgis). Barrett earned a yellow card for a late foul on Riley near the right touch line. Nathan Sturgis took the free kick and sent it in the air near the penalty spot, where Nkufo was unmarked and he powered a header into the top near corner. 2-1 Seattle. It was Nkufo's first goal in Seattle.

Two minutes later Nyassi could have had a goal when a defender head-flicked Leo Gonzalez' cross right to Nyassi, but his volley went wide of the unguarded near post. Nyassi had another chance in the first half when Zakuani fed him on the right, but Nyassi miskicked the shot.

Near the end of the first half Nana Attakora went down injured and limped off. He was replaced by Nick Garcia in first half added time.

Seattle threatened Toronto's goal early in the second half. After Nyassi stole the ball, Montero's dangerous cross in front of goal earned a corner kick, which Nkufo headed on goal forcing a save. Seattle stayed on the attack and when a drop pass missed its target Ianni hammered a long, twisting shot that went an inch over the bar as fast as a soccer ball can travel.

59' SEA: Nyassi. Zakuani's cross in front of goal was weakly cleared by Adrian Cann and it set up Nyassi for a left-footed shot from the center of the 18-yard line. He powered it into the top right corner for his first MLS goal. 3-1 Seattle.

Seattle's defense gave Toronto few chances in the half. The first one came at 64' when a cleared corner kick gave Julian de Guzman a chance from 20 yards that he wasted high. The second chance came at 82' and Santos skied the 20-yarder. The third chance was skied by De Rosario at 87'. The fourth chance found net.

88' TOR: Barrett (Lindsay, White). Two substitutes set up the play, as O'Brian White found Nicholas Lindsay open on the left for a cross. Seattle's defense left Barrett unmarked to head the cross in from the center of the 6-yard line. 3-2 Seattle.

Seattle had several shots in the final half hour, the best chance coming in added time when a counterattack gave the Sounders a 3-2 numerical superiority. Montero's pass gave substitute Nate Jaqua a good chance, but a defender deflected it wide. Seattle used the corner kick to kill the remaining time.

          SEA    TOR
Shots:     18      8
Saves:      0      4
Corners:    6      2
Fouls:      8     14
Offsides:   2      1

25' TOR: Barrett cautioned for a late foul on Riley
34' TOR: Gargan cautioned for a rough foul on Nyassi
63' TOR: Santos cautioned

Referees: Mark Geiger; Cameron Blair, Frank Anderson; Ramon Hernandez

Attendance: 36,079

Postmatch Quotes

Seattle Sounders FC

Sigi Schmid - Head Coach

Opening Statement: "Obviously we're happy with the win. We're really proud of the way we came back after they scored the first goal. I was really happy with how we came back, to go up 2-1 at halftime. Once we were up 3-1, we wanted to make sure the fans stayed involved and stayed interested, so we decided to make it 3-2 there at the very end. Overall I'm very pleased. We talked about getting the last two home games, getting two wins which would get us to 45 points. We're at 42 now. We have the same amount of wins as last year. We've got more shutouts than last year. So there are certain things even with the bad run at the beginning of the year that we've improved upon and we need to continue to play well and I thought at times today we played some very good soccer, football. The ball was moving. There was the one combination we were very unlucky not to get one, the 3 v. 1 break with Jaqua at the end. But we got some timely goals."

On whether it's a relief that Nyassi scored: "I think it's a bigger relief for him. We kept saying if he could finally get one, and I told him in the locker room I'm not going to wait two years for the next one. He's got to keep going, he's got to continue to get some goals. It was good, he scored it with his left foot so it was good. He had the one opportunity in the first half where he had a bad first touch. If he gets a good first touch there I think maybe he gets his goal there. We've been working more with him on finishing, finishing. He's improving all the time, he's a valuable player for our team."

On what Nkufo does to make everyone around him better: "Just the connection. He gives us that connection up front. He's able to check off, he holds the ball, sometimes you see him take more of - a lot of times you see him just play one- and two-touch stuff. He connects his passes, he knows where people are. That helps us. He and Zakuani are starting to build up a really good relationship with each other. That's a positive. Also it's nice when you get goals off set pieces, free kicks, and we're starting to do now that as well, and this is the most important part of the year and season."

On concern about Montero's recent lack of scoring: "I'm not going to worry about that right now. I thought Fredy had some good looks. Today he had a couple shots blocked, there were a couple times he should have shot and a couple times he should have played where he tried to shoot. Right now the team's flowing. His timing will come. He's a goal scorer, he'll get his goals in the future and if he saves them all for the Open Cup and the playoffs, I'm okay with that too."

On avoiding playoff drama by winning now: "No, we want to make things easier on ourselves. We want to make sure no one develops a heart condition on the team. That everyone is good. We set the goal. I've always felt for me that the magic number is 45. It gets you there for sure, I think. It's a game, a point and half per game and we're within striking distance of that. We've got three games to get there so we need to win one of the last three."

On the severity of Jeff Parke's first-half injury: "It's a dislocated finger; he's not a goalkeeper, come on. Hopefully he's not catching the ball, although there were a few hand balls early...He dislocated his finger so they were able to snap it back into place there and they just taped it up. It was good to keep him out there and keep the consistency. You don't want to burn a sub that early in the game like they had to burn a sub when Attakora got injured. He should be fine. He'll probably be a little sore."

On Tuesday's meeting with Columbus for the Open Cup championship and playing his former assistant Robert Wazycha, now coach of the Crew: "He's a good coach, they're a good team. Like I said after the game in Columbus, that's (the final score) not the separation of the teams. We've played them here twice over the last two years and tied both times. It's going to be a great game. It's going to be an exciting game. It's going to be a game that the fans don't want to miss, but it's also going to be a game between two good teams that are in form and that are playing - obviously they still play later tonight and we'll see how they do. It's great to be at home. Being at home the last week for us has been tremendous and we've got to continue to concentrate, focus, and play well. If we continue to get timely goals and we got a goal in that game off a corner kick, we had a goal today off a set piece, so if we continue to do that it's going to continue to keep us in the forefront."

Blaise Nkufo

On come-from-behind victory: "It was important to come back, especially before the second half, because I think they scored on the first chance they had and it could be, for us, difficult. But we reacted very well as a team. It was a great pass off of Alonso and Steve scored and after that I scored the 2-1. I think we showed a good character again."

On Sanna Nyassi scoring: "I'm really happy for him because he is a young player. He has a nice character, a nice personality and he wants to do the best. I have spoken with him a lot ... and I am looking forward to his next goal on Tuesday."

On today's game plan: "We knew that in the backline that they don't have players with quality and that we should press them and make it difficult. I think that was the key. We pressured them, especially in the first half. That's why we came back in the game."

Sanna Nyassi

On the celebration following first career goal: "I jumped on Blaise and everybody fell over me, screaming, excited."

On finishing after chances in the first half: "Since the first half, I felt that it was a team I could score against. I should have scored at least two goals in the first half, but of course I wasn't able. When the second half came I made sure I took my chances."

On finally scoring first goal: "I think since I broke the deadlock, now I'll keep scoring for sure."

On number of times Sigi Schmid coached on finishing opportunities: "Uncountable. All the time he talks to me about finishing my chances. I make sure that I make the goalies make saves. Even if I don't score if I make them make saves, my teammates can finish the rebound. I make sure I work on that in training all the time."

On importance of the win: "It was important to get a win because right now things are tight for us, and we need to make the playoffs for sure. Last year we made the playoffs, but we didn't go far...We make sure that we win all the remaining games we'll get there."

Steve Zakuani

On come-from-behind victory: "I don't think it was so much they were ahead because they were playing better than us. I think we were playing well, so we just kind of carried on doing what we were doing. We could've had three penalties in the first ten minutes because there were some clear handballs in their box. Then they score, that happens. And then it was important that we score before halftime and we got two. Once you do that, we are at home, we had the momentum and the game became a bit easier. I thought it was a very, very good performance. That last goal from them leaves a sour taste in your mouth. But overall, I thought we played great today. It was very good."

On Sanna Nyassi scoring: "So happy, so happy. At halftime, I told him, 'You're going to get one,' because he should've had about nine in the first half. But no, I said to him that he is going to get one because he was playing very well and he's in the right positions. It was a great finish with his left foot, I think. Fantastic. Very, very happy for him."

On the game: "I read something that Sigi said yesterday that Blaise opens up space for us. You can see that Fredy has more space than he had previously. Sanna has more and so do I because he holds the ball so well. You can run off him. And then you have guys like Ossie and Sturgis who were finding me today and are doing very well. So it's just one of those days where things worked together, worked well. I enjoy playing with Blaise. I think me and Leo, we did better together in the second half. So it's just a lot of things fell our way. I think for them they came in to chase the game so they couldn't really double-up or triple-up or something. It was a lot more space for us."

Toronto FC

Nick Dasovic - Head Coach

On a great start and the game plan: "It's funny because we talk about tactically setting up the team to what we want to achieve against who we're playing. We've had relatively the same lineup and tactical set up over the last few weeks because we've played so many games. I thought we came out and let them have the ball. We did get a good ball to De-Ro and had a few tap chances. Then the old Achilles heel this year, or at least since we've taken over, set pieces - boom boom and you get down. That's the way it goes. Do you question their character? Some of the boys fought back still and tried. Chad scored a good goal at the end to make it close, but at the end of the day, I think everybody puts their hand up and says it wasn't good enough. That's the bottom line, it wasn't good enough."

On Nicholas Lindsay coming in: "He's a wide man, he's young. What's his job? To get balls into the box to score and that's what happened. So I told the kid after, you do what we ask you to do and keep going. Do not think you've made it. That's the problem with a lot of players - they think they've made it after one or two good games. I said make sure you keep yourself right and mentally focused. He's a good kid, he'll be okay."

On if Toronto FC fans might see more young blood in the lineup as the season ends: "It depends on a lot of things - who's available, what suspensions do we have coming up and injuries. If we can definitely play some young guys, yes we need to get them some experience. Right now, we're still in. It's funny to say that, but we're still in, depending on the results from later tonight. That's the way things go."

On whether the players are hungry enough: "Well, the proof's in the pudding. When you watch a football game from the outside, you see a guy lose it and not track back - that's a character deficiency. To be fair, they tried. We've had a tough schedule. I'm not going to throw the boys under the bus ... now's not the time. We're going to keep working. I told the boys, no matter what happens or if we're eliminated, we're going to keep playing until October 23. First and foremost for the TFC badge. If you don't want to be here and fight, then you can make your way out. No problem we'll let you go and pursue other ventures. But if you want to be here, I only want guys who are going to fight for the football club."

Stefan Frei

On starting off well then allowing the Seattle goals: "All of their goals were pretty soft. The first one I'll have to look at the replay but it seemed like a set play they were trying to create. You saw it coming, but organization and communication is what let us down there. The second one is probably something that's been haunting us this season ... set plays. Terrible marking. You don't have to ask a guy of that caliber to try to finish a wide-open header. The third one was obviously unfortunate. Adrian knows he probably needed to clear that a little better. It's just very disappointing."

On the loss: "It's very demoralizing. We have to take a good look at ourselves, although our mentality should've been there from the get-go of the season. People are maybe going to have to look at themselves and worry about their jobs a little more now. That's what should've been there in January. I need to prove my worth and make sure I deserve to be here and the guys also have to show the front office and the coaches that they deserve to be here next year. With efforts like this, I don't think many of us deserve to be here."

Dwayne De Rosario

On a great start and then giving up the quick goals: "Yeah, I think that sums up the season. I'm extremely disappointed."

On how guys should've been playing for their jobs all year long and not just now: "Definitely. That goes without saying. When you approach the season, you should have one thing on your mind. For forwards, you should get the scoring title. If you're a midfielder, you want to be in the best 11 or an all-star. If you're a goalie, you want to have a clean sheet. If you're a defender, you want to be defender of the year. That should be in everyone's mind - to do better than the previous year and always be the best that they can be in the league. If everyone has that collectively in mind, you're looking at a very hungry and tenacious team."

On if he's seeing enough signs of this club moving forward: "It's very tough to say. You feel like you're heading in the right direction, but it is what it is and you have to play out the games and give everything you got 100 percent with the guys in the locker room. It is very frustrating and very disappointing to be in this situation once again. It's something I don't want to get accustomed to or get used to because I'm a winner and I like winning. I know what it's like to get in the playoffs - it's a whole different environment and atmosphere. Everyone should want to be a part of it. It's very sad to know that the cup is in our backyard and we potentially won't have the opportunity to be part of it."

On Seattle's fans sticking with the team and what to say to Toronto supporters: "Seattle has great fan support. They came out to support their team today because they knew it was a big game, a game that they had to win, and it shows how much the city backs the team. I know it was a great environment out there. We have the same type of environment in Toronto. Obviously we don't have 30-some thousand seats to fit everyone, but the passion is there. They demand results and there's nothing wrong with that. We should demand results from each other, and that's not only in games, but in training and everything that we do."