Playoff Match Two

September 17, 1995

(Seattle wins shootout.)

Attendance: 4,339
Man, what a grueling match. This was physical contest that no one was destined to win. It even took eight shootout shots to finally kill this one. As usual, the shootout was no way to end this contest, but I guess we'll take the win...

Our only weakness was when we lost Wade Webber. Our metalhead is sorely missed when he is not in the backfield. Wade went out in the 24th minute with a knee injury and Hinton played a man down for a full five minutes until it was evident the Wade would not be fit to return to the pitch. With Wade out, there was no one to seriously threaten the 86er's goal on corner kicks. Then again, our set-plays haven't been for crap lately anyway...

I love the opportunity to post two view points of a match. In this case we'll hear from Ron Stickney (from Seattle) and Ken Butler (from Vancouver):

First from Ron:

Seattle: #18 Marcus Hahnemann (G), #20 Marco Rizi, #2 Wade Webber (29 #19 James Dunn), #4 Neil Megson, #6 Billy Crook, #24 Dominic Kinnear, #11 Shawn Medved, #10 Peter Hattrup, #13 Jason Farrell (82 #26 David Hoggan), #9 Chance Fry (66 #21 Gary Heale), #14 Jason Dunn
Vancouver: #29 Dolan, #3 Nico Berg, #5 MacDonald, #26 Watson, #16 Doug McKinty, #21 Carl Valentine, #17 Giuliano Oliveiro (60 #7 Paul Dailly), #4 Mike Dodd (76 #20 Marty Nash), #6 Jeff Aunger, #14 Rob Reed (90 #9 Sibiya), #10 Mobilio

The Seattle Sounders advanced to the finals of the A-League playoffs with a shootout win in the 8th round over the Vancouver 86ers after a scoreless 90 minutes of regulation play. The lack of goals was not for a lack of shots as both keepers, Marcus Hahnemann for Seattle and Dolan for Vancouver, made numerous saves in earning shoutouts. Seattle had won the first match of the best-of-three series in Vancouver on Friday by a score of 0-1.

A contingent of Vancouver fans added color (red and black) and sound (Oogey, oogey, oogey! Oy, oy, oy!) to the stadium. In the group I had the pleasure of meeting fellow NASers Alan Douglas and Ken Butler.

This game followed a pattern familiar from the two previous matches between these same teams, as Vancouver applied pressure on the ball everywhere on the field. The game was physically rougher than the previous two games, and the referee was allowing quite a bit of it.

Dominic Kinnear got the first shot of the game for Seattle at 4 minutes from a corner kick, but his curving shot was a yard too high. Jason Farrell dropped the ball to an open Jason Dunn, who forced the game's first save by a diving Dolan.

Reed broke down the left line and crossed to Mobilio for Vancouver's first chance at 10 minutes, but Mobilio's pressured first touch sent the ball over from 12 yards out. At 16 minutes, Vancouver almost scored as a hard, low shot was taken (I missed who took the shot) from the 18-yard line. Hahnemann dove and deflected the ball slightly, but just enough to hit the left post.

Midway in the first half the momentum shifted back in Seattle's favor. Chance Fry chipped over the keeper toward the left post. Kinnear almost finished it but a Vancouver defender just beat him to it and cleared it up and over the bar for a corner kick. A ball that rattled around in the area ended up being volleyed by Peter Hattrup from six yards. The hard shot hit Dolan squarely in the chest (I heard the thud at the other end of the field) and rebounded out to Farrell, whose return shot was saved by a diving Dolan.

At 24 minutes, Seattle defender Wade Webber left the game with a knee injury. The medics tried to work some magic on him, but at 29 minutes James Dunn entered in Webber's place. The loss of Webber was disheartening as I thought him the man of the match in Friday's game.

Jeff Aunger's yellow card came at 32 minutes for his second rough foul in three minutes.

Hahnemann stretched over an attacker to punch away a free kick, but the ball went mostly up and was headed back on goal by Aunger and caught by Hahnemann. Sounder Fry took a pass behind the defense but Dolan pushed Fry's shot out for a corner. Neil Megson earned a shot near Vancouver's right post, but Dolan had the angle covered and blocked the shot. A bad Sounder pass gave Rob Reed a quick 30-yard shot, but he shot wide left.

Kinnear's yellow card was earned at 39 minutes for a late trip. Score 0-0 at halftime.

Vancouver player-coach Carl Valentine worked through a crowd and got off the first shot of the second half, saved by Hahnemann.

Seattle captain Megson earned his caution at 53 minutes for a foul from behind.

Seattle had nearly all of the shots during the rest of the game. From a free kick, Farrell headed to Jason Dunn, but Dunn hit the scoreboard rather than the goal. Fry beat a man with a Maradona "walk on the ball" turn and sent a beautiful through pass to Jason Dunn, who shot just wide right. At 66 minutes, Gary Heale, who came on to score the game winner on Friday, replaced Fry. Hattrup curled a 35-yard free kick around the wall, but Dolan got to the post to catch it. Farrell started a great series of runs and passes to advance up the field, ending with Kinnear passing to overlapping fullback Billy Crook, who returned it to Kinnear for a flying header that was barely wide left. David Hoggan replaced Farrell at 82 minutes and soon made a nice headed drop to Shawn Medved, whose shot went over the bar. Hoggan got the last chance for a regulation goal but his free kick was wide left.

During this time, all Vancouver could accomplish were a few long shots. Hahnemann saved shots from the touch line by Nico Berg and MacDonald. Paul Dailly, who had come on for Giuliano Oliviero, watched his shot sail well over. In the final minute, Sibiya came on for Reed in anticipation of the shootout.

Final score 0-0, and on to the shootout. Vancouver shot first.

Vancouver                  Seattle
------------------------   ---------------------------
Aunger    1                Hattrup    1
Sibiya    0 (saved)        Megson     0 (saved)
Valentine 0 (wide right)   Medved     0 (saved)
MacDonald 0 (wide left)    Rizi       0 (saved)
Dailly    1                Heale      1
Nash      0 (saved)        Hoggan     0 (hit left post)
McKinty   0 (saved)        Jason Dunn 0 (saved)
Berg      0 (saved)        Crook      1

In the A-League finals, Seattle will play the winner of the Montreal-Atlanta semifinal series, now knotted at one game each. Seattle's next home match will be on Thursday, September 28, if against the Montreal Impact, or Sunday, October 1, if against the Atlanta Ruckus. Seattle would have the home field advantage against Atlanta and would therefore play the first game of that series away.

From Ken:

Seattle: Hahnemann; Rizi, Webber (James Dunn 29), Megson, Crook; Hattrup, Kinnear, Medved, Farrell (Hoggan 81); Fry (Heale 66), Jason Dunn.
Vancouver: Dolan; Berg, Macdonald, Watson, McKinty; Oliviero (Dailly 60), Dodd (Nash 76), Aunger, Valentine; Mobilio, Reed (Sibiya 90). Yellow cards: Kinnear 39 (disputing free kick), Megson 53 (foul on Valentine); Aunger 32 (foul on Jason Dunn).

The events of tonight and Friday confirmed that there is nothing to choose between these two teams -- other than that the Sounders seem to find a way to win -- and also confirmed that entertaining games don't need to have a lot of goals. While not as action-packed as the first meeting, there were plenty of chances for both sides in this second encounter.

The Sounders began purposefully, showing how accustomed they are to controlling the ball on the turf. From a Fry pass, Dunn's shot was saved by Dolan. Then the visitors worked their way back into it: Reed beat Crook on the left, but his cross was put over by Mobilio. Then the 86ers almost went in front: Aunger's shot got through Hahnemann, but came back out off the post. At the other end, a long cross had to be put behind by Oliviero: from the ensuing corner, a fierce shot came in which Dolan somehow managed to block. After a quiet spell, an Aunger free kick was punched away by Hahnemann, but not convincingly, and the keeper was only able to claim the ball after another cross had come in. Then it was the Sounders' turn to come close: Fry beat the offside and had a clear run on goal, looking set to score, but Dolan came up with a big block to deny him. A minute later, Dolan was sharp again to keep out Dunn at the near post.

It was a first half that the Sounders had shaded, but just as on Friday, it was impossible to pick a winner. Both sides were giving their all, and it was a matter of which team would finally get a chance to go in. The second half continued as the first had done, both teams working hard to create chances. Mobilio ran in through the centre, but his shot was saved; Fry set up Dunn, whose shot went well over; a dangerous Dailly cross was well claimed by Hahnemann, and another Dailly cross from the right was cleared only with considerable difficulty. Dunn was put through, but shot wide from a good position; Hattrup's free kick from 25 yards was comfortably saved by Dolan, and a right-wing cross was flicked on by Kinnear but Dunn couldn't get a touch at the far post.

As the second half progressed, it was clear that both teams were trying for the winner, but that a goal would be very hard to come by. The need for a goal was particularly keen for the 86ers, considering that a shootout was otherwise in the offing. There was a lot of committed play, but not too many more chances: Dailly's quick shot went over; Hoggan nodded it back for Medved whose shot was also high. Then, as Dailly tried to retrieve a ball down the right wing, Hahnemann advanced outside his area to try to get there first -- it was not clear that he did, but in any case, the two players collided, and play was waved on. The final chance fell to Hoggan, putting a free kick wide.

It would have been nice to see extra time: the way the game was going, we were certain to be entertained, even if the teams hadn't managed to decide it. But, rules being rules, the game went straight to a shootout. While by no means the right way to decide this game, I have to say the shootout was pretty exciting. Aunger and Hattrup both scored, then there was a string of misses (mostly blocks by the keepers), until, on the 86ers' fifth attempt, Dailly scored. That looked as if it might be enough, but Heale put away his team's fifth attempt to send it to sudden death. More misses, more saves -- but eventually someone was bound to score, and it turned out to be the Sounders' Crook. End of game, end of series, and a disappointing end of season for the 86ers.

On the bus on the way home, we consoled ourselves by watching highlights of the 86ers' string of CSL championships....

Seattle move forward to the final, where they will face either Montreal or Atlanta. The Impact levelled their series with a 3-0 win this afternoon.

On a personal note, it was good to meet Peter McKay and the complete-with-notebook Ron Stickney, who came by where we were sitting (guess we were not hard to find, festooned in red and white as we were...) It'll be interesting to see how Ron's report compares with this one...

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