Seattle Sounders 0 - 1 Vancouver 86ers 47' Garret Kusch (Jeff Skinner) Seattle: Dusty Hudock, Bernie James, Brian McNeil, Neil Megson (21' Scott Jenkins), Justin Stoddard, Geoff Aunger, Nate Daligcon (79' Mike Enneking), David Hoggan, Derek Crothers (59' Chance Fry), Dion Earl, Isidro Andrade Tafolla Vancouver: Paul Dolan, Steve MacDonald, Richie Sumner, Jeff Clarke, Chris Franks, Jeff Skinner, Nico Berg, Oliver Heald (88' Doug Muirhead), Craig Dalrymple, Jason Jordan (Steve Kindel), Garrett Kusch Cautions: Vancouver - 69' MacDonald (for taking down Andrade Tafolla) Shots: Seattle 11, Vancouver 12 Saves: Hudock 3, Dolan 4 Offside: Seattle 4, Vancouver 1 Fouls: Seattle 12, Vancouver 18 Corners: Seattle 3, Vancouver 2 Attendance: 4,561
The Stickney account:
Vancouver's lone goal from a Garrett Kusch header two minutes into the second half was enough to give the visitors a victory over the Seattle Sounders on the A-League's opening day. Paul Dolan earned the shutout in goal for the 86ers.
Seattle fielded a team with only five players from their 1996 A-League championship team - three player/coaches (Neil Megson, Bernie James, Chance Fry) and two who were rookies last year (Nate Daligcon, Justin Stoddard). Seattle played the first half in a 3-5-2 formation, unlike in past years when they virtually always played with four in the back.
Vancouver's starting lineup included just two players over the age of 23 - defender Steve MacDonald and keeper Paul Dolan.
Neither team looked sharp this night, especially in the first half when only seven shots were taken, only two on goal. Isidro "Chilo" Andrade Tafolla took Seattle s first shot at 6' when he tried to head in a throw-in from close range, but the ball went off his body and wide. Vancouver was shotless until 12' when Craig Dalrymple poked the ball wide from the left side.
In the final two minutes of the half, Vancouver's Garrett Kusch was left open to head two shots towards goal. The first was just wide left and the second hit the right post and rebounded right to keeper Dusty Hudock.
Vancouver tallied two minutes into the second half when Kusch got his head on Jeff Skinner's cross in front of the goal and looped the ball over Hudock, who had come out from his line when perhaps he should not have, and into the net.
The goal seemed to wake the Sounders. Seattle s Dion Earl sent a beautiful cross in from the right side, but his teammates were late on the attack and the ball bounced harmlessly across the penalty area. Earl soon sent in another quality cross and Derek Crothers was open in front of the goal to meet it, but miskicked his shot and hit the right post. Crothers soon got another chance when he volleyed a pass from Chilo, but the hard struck ball was caught by Dolan for a save.
Soon after entering the game for Crothers, Chance Fry one-touched a cross into Daligcon's path, but Daligcon's left-footed shot was well wide. Seattle's Geoff Aunger (who played for Vancouver two years ago) earned a shot from 25 yards out, but his well-struck shot slammed into the post and the rebound was cleared by Vancouver s defense.
Four minutes from time 86er Steve Kindell got a breakaway when Brian McNeil missed the ball near the halfway line. Kindel dribbled into the area and shot with only the keeper to beat, but the ball hit the top left corner of the woodwork and went out.
Chilo got Seattle's last chance to tie the match when he volleyed a clearance from Seattle s corner kick, but the shot was several feet over the bar.
Seattle and Vancouver meet again on Friday in Vancouver, and will meet a total of five times in the '97 regular season.