Recap: Union Drop Inaugural Match 2-0

SEATTLE, Wa. (March 25, 2010) - On a rainy night in Seattle, the Sounders and Philadelphia Union officially kicked off the 2010 MLS season with an exciting affair from Qwest Field. 

Starting out with a very aggressive set-up, the Union fielded a young squad in their first-ever match that came out of the blocks pressing the Sounders for the ball. Captained by Danny Califf, who saw a yellow card under a minute into the match, Team Manager Peter Nowak didn’t shackle his players’ style early on.

"We need to do better on both goals, especially the first one,” reflected Team Manager Peter Nowak. “The ball was coming inside and we have to cover it much better, especially on runs from the second line. It was a good (first) 10 minutes and then the goal was unexpected from something we didn’t cover very well. The second goal actually was a byproduct of the red card because Toni Stahl (who was ejected) was supposed to cover Montero on the back post. Overall, the heart was there, we were playing our game, and with 10 men it wasn’t a bad effort.” 

Very back and forth in the opening 10 minutes, the Union began to see a good chunk of the possession, while Seattle seemed content to see what the expansion club could bring at them.

When the Sounders did manage to get the ball, a Union player was on their back chipping away trying to loosen the possession from the home side. Working on the counterattack, Seattle were able to break the deadlock in the 12th minute thanks to some lovely interplay.

Sweeping balls down the right resulted in Fredy Montero holding the ball up just inside the box. He then played it through to Zakuani on the wing, who quickly slotted back into the middle of the area. Waiting on the edge of the 6-yard box was Brad Evans who coolly slotted the ball into the far corner of the net. 

It wasn’t long after the goal that things got a bit more physical as Osvaldo Alonso took Union striker Alejandro Moreno down from behind, warranting another yellow card, the match’s second. Soon thereafter, Union rookie Toni Stahl picked up a yellow for a late challenge on Freddie Ljungberg.

The Union’s best chance of the half up to that point came in the 18th minute when Moreno was able to drop the ball into former Sounders forward Sebastian Le Toux in the middle of the area. Working his way around Tyrone Marshall, Le Toux lost his balance before he could get a clean shot on Kasey Keller, who snatched the ball up confidently to avert a tying goal.

Things settled down in the middle portion of the first half, with the Union getting some quality time on the ball. Looking to work the ball along the wings to Roger Torres, the away side was certainly pressing for an equalizer.

Their hopes at getting back in the game took a huge hit in the 40th minute when Stahl went into the back of Montero as they both rose for a flighted ball. The Finnish rookie’s knee was a bit high and he was shown a second yellow, which meant his first game in MLS would result in a send-off.

It didn’t take the Sounders long to capitalize on the newfound strength in numbers as Montero was able to extend the lead off of a Sounders corner. Put in by Ljungberg, the ball was fisted out of the area by Union keeper Chris Seitz. Taking it on the edge of the area, Alonso neatly bounced it back into the box to a waiting Montero who nodded the ball past Seitz for the 2-0 lead in the 43rd minute. Completely unmarked, it’ll go down as one of the easier goals the Colombian will score.

Playing out the last two minute in desperate fashion, it was clear the Union were playing for the locker room, a place that Seattle was happy to go in to being up 2-0.

Despite being down two goals and a man, the Union came out in the second half pressing the ball once more, trying to work one back and keep the match competitive.

Seattle were again content with letting Union take possession of the ball and come at them as best they could. It was the home team who won the first chance of the second half though as a deep ball played into Seitz was parried by the keeper at the edge of the box. Unfortunately for the former Salt Lake player, he played it right to Steve Zakuani who barely missed slotting it into an open net.

Seattle had a nice chance in the 65th when substitute Sanna Nyassi took the ball along the left side of the area. Cutting inside a Union defender, Nyassi took a rip at the near side of Seitz’s goal, only to see it cut by the post on the advertisement backing.

Slow play dominated the next 10 minutes of the second period as it appeared that the teams had switched off and were ready for the final whistle. Using the extra man to their advantage, the Sounders began to take their time with the ball, not forcing the issue, but at the same time, eating up tons of clock with each measured pass. 

The best second half chance for the Sounders came in the 82nd minute when they won a corner that Brad Evans stepped up and took from the far corner. Winding the ball in, Evans spotted Roger Levesque who had an open header. Nodding it wide, the Canadian wasn’t able to add to the two goal advantage. 

Unable to get anything back in the match’s final minutes, the Union were forced to settle on a 2-0 result in the Sounders’ favor in their inaugural MLS match. They’ll welcome D.C. United to Lincoln Financial Field on April 10th in their home opener and hope for a better result in front of the Philly faithful. 

"We have a lot of work to do, but I think we fought hard as a team, we ran a lot, we’re pretty fit," commented Danny Califf, who served as Captain. "But there are some areas we definitely need polishing. If we put that kind of effort in we’ll get good results." 

Scoring Summary

SEA -- Brad Evans 1 (Steve Zakuani 1, Fredy Montero 1) 12
SEA -- Fredy Montero 1 (Osvaldo Alonso 1) 43

Philadelphia Union -- Chris Seitz, Jordan Harvey, Danny Califf, Toni Stahl, David Myrie (Jack McInerney 78), Andrew Jacobson, Danny Mwanga (Stefani Miglioranzi 46), Roger Torres (Amobi Okugo 71), Michael Orozco, Sebastien Le Toux, Alejandro Moreno.

Substitutes Not Used: Shavar Thomas, Nick Zimmerman, Kyle Nakazawa, Brad Knighton.  

TOTAL SHOTS: 9 (Sebastien Le Toux 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (Sebastien Le Toux 3); FOULS: 8 (David Myrie 2); OFFSIDES: 2 (Alejandro Moreno 1, Sebastien Le Toux 1); CORNER KICKS: 6 (Sebastien Le Toux 3, Roger Torres 3); SAVES: 1 (Chris Seitz 1)

Seattle Sounders -- Kasey Keller, Zach Scott, Tyrone Marshall, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez, Roger Levesque, Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso, Steve Zakuani (Michael Fucito 76), Freddie Ljungberg (Sanna Nyassi 60), Fredy Montero.

Substitutes Not Used: Patrick Ianni, Nathan Sturgis, Tyson Wahl, David Estrada, Terry Boss.  

TOTAL SHOTS: 12 (Fredy Montero 7); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (Fredy Montero 2); FOULS: 13 (5 tied with 2); OFFSIDES: 3 (Roger Levesque 2); CORNER KICKS: 9 (Brad Evans 5); SAVES: 4 (Kasey Keller 4)

Misconduct Summary:
PHI -- Danny Califf (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 1
SEA -- Osvaldo Alonso (caution; Reckless Tackle) 14
PHI -- Toni Stahl (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 23
PHI -- Toni Stahl (caution; Reckless Foul) 41
PHI -- Toni Stahl (ejection; Second Caution) 41
PHI -- David Myrie (caution; Reckless Tackle) 63
PHI -- Alejandro Moreno (caution; Reckless Tackle) 86

Referee: Ricardo Salazar
Referee's Assistants
: Corey Rockwell; Peter Manikowski
4th Official
: Paul Ward
Attendance
: 36,241

Time of Game: 1:52

Weather: Rain-and-52-degrees