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Seattle Sounders FC 2, Stabaek IF 0
Fredy Montero and Roger Levesque scored first-half goals within a 12-minute span, giving the Seattle Sounders FC a 2-0 win over Norway’s Stabaek IF in the second round of the La Manga Cup II on Sunday afternoon in La Manga, Spain.
Freddie Ljungberg set-up both goals and Seattle reaped the rewards of some training work on quicker passing and more off the ball movement. The Sounders FC will meet either Norway’s SK Brann or Denmark’s SonderjyskE (sic) on Thursday. Those teams meet on Monday.
A stiff, predominantly cross-field breeze was a welcome improvement over the heavy winds and rain which plagued Thursday night’s loss to Rosenborg. Seattle also appeared to have made the adjustment to the travel and nine-hour time difference, showing sharpness from the onset.
In the opening minute, Levesque found Osvaldo Alonso for a 20-yard drive which narrowly missed the right post, and in the 7th minute Levesque linked with Ljungberg, who got around on the ball for snap shot past the left pipe.
In the 30th minute, Montero put the Sounders FC on the board for the first time in Europe. Ljungberg first wrestled control at midfield then, moments later, took a feed from Alonso and cut it to Montero for a one-touch, near-post finish from 8 yards.
Ljungberg, again from Alonso, turned and almost found the left post three minutes later. In the 42nd minute, his corner kick helped make it 2-0. Ljungberg’s driven ball from the left flag was met by Levesque’s head at the near post, and the ball flashed past Stabaek keeper Jon Knudsen and into the net.
Sigi Schmid shuffled his lineup to begin the second half, removing four starters. Still Seattle moved the ball crisply around the pitch. A backheel by Ljungberg gave rookie David Estrada a clear first-time blast from 20 yards out on the right, albeit straight to the hands of Knudsen.
James Riley and Peter Vagenas helped Kasey Keller preserve the shutout with timely challenges in the box in the second half. Fifth in Norway last season, Stabaek gave Keller his only difficult save in the 79th minute, with substitute Jan Tommernes forcing the keeper to the ground from 15 yards.
Five more Seattle starters were lifted in the 60th minute and, without any remaining substitutes, Sounders FC played a man down for nearly eight minutes when Levesque was forced off to receive treatment on an injured ankle.
Shortly after Levesque’s return, Tyson Wahl forced Knudsen to tip his left-wing cross over the bar for a corner. In the 77th minute, rookie Tye Perdido missed the goal by inches after latching on to a far post cross from Steve Zakuani.
Defending tournament champion Rosenborg, up 3-0 before pulling most of its starters in the second half, succumbed, 5-3, to Denmark’s Nordsjalland in the first semifinal.
SEA-Montero (Ljungberg, Alonso) 30′
SEA-Levesque (Ljungberg) 42′
Seattle Sounders FC Lineup (4-4-2): Kasey Keller; James Riley (Zach Scott 60, Tyrone Marshall (Jeff Parke 46), Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (Jamel Wallace 60), Leo Gonzalez (Tyson Wahl 46); 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).
Stabak Lineup (4-4-2): Jon Knudsen; Vegar Hedenstad, Morten Skeonsberg, Kristian Onstad (Daniel Nannskog 45), Bjani Eiriksson, Mikkel Diskerud (Tor Marius Gromstad 46), Palmi Palmason, Henning Hauger (Diogo 46), Pontus Farnerud, Espen Hoff (Jorgen Skjrlvik 68), Veigar Pall Gunnasson (Jan Tommernes 68).
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 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 patience 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 a 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 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 of that combination. We had Ljungberg in on a 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 tallow 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. II 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 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 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.