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Daily coverage of Seattle Sounders FC, MLS and world soccer.

October 19, 2010 at 11:02 AM

Sounders FC weekly release of team news and notes

Seattle Seeks to Top 50 in Texas

Its postseason pairing still to be determined, Seattle Sounders FC heads to Texas for the final match of the regular season, facing the Houston Dynamo on Saturday at 1 p.m. PT. But first the Rave Green can play the role of spoiler when it hosts CD Saprissa in the final round of CONCACAF Champions League group play. That match is Tuesday at 7 p.m. PT on the Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field.

Costa Rican power Saprissa seeks a win to clinch a berth in next spring’s Champions League quarterfinals while a Sounders FC victory could boost it to third place in Group C. The Purple Monster won the first meeting in San Jose, 2-0, on September 14. Tuesday’s game will be televised on Fox Soccer Channel, airing at 1 a.m. PT Wednesday.

Seattle (14-9-6, 48 points) has won six in a row in all competitions and has a club record five-game winning streak (six games unbeaten) in MLS going into the finale in Houston. There it could cross the 50-point threshold with a victory over the Dynamo (8-15-6, 30 points). It’s the first visit to Robertson Stadium since being eliminated from the 2009 playoffs by Houston last November.

A 1-0 extra time loss in the second leg of the Western Conference semifinals is the only Sounders FC defeat in six meetings with Houston. Seattle is 2-0-1 in the regular season series. It ousted the Orange from the semifinals round of the 2009 Open Cup and earned a draw in the first leg of last year’s playoff series.

Winner of the MLS Cup in 2006 and 2007, the Dynamo will be closing-out a difficult year. Houston has gone 1-4-3 in its last eight at home. However it is 2-1-1 in its last four outings following a 1-0 road win at San Jose this past weekend.

KING 5 will televise Saturday’s game. Both matches can be heard on KIRO 97.3 FM. Saturday’s match is also available on Homero 1210 AM.

It’s been a magical three-month run for Sounders FC. After beating Chivas USA, 2-1, at home last week, it is 10-1-3 during the second half of the MLS regular season. Despite a troubling start to the campaign Seattle has surged, surpassing the win and point totals achieved in its sensational first season. Going into the week it is tied for the league’s fourth-best record.

Not only has the Rave Green become the first team to repeat as the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Champion in 27 years, no other team in the 15-year history of Major League Soccer has lost fewer matches in its first two seasons.

Sounders FC is set to host the first leg of a conference semifinal on October 31 at 5 p.m. PT. It will be aired nationwide on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes.

Upcoming Competition Schedule (All times Pacific)

Tuesday, October 19, 7 p.m. – CD Saprissa, Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field, Seattle (CONCACAF Champions League group stage/round six)

Saturday, October 23, 1 p.m. – at Houston Dynamo, Robertson Stadium, Houston

Sunday, October 31, 5 p.m. – MLS Cup Playoffs Conference Semifinal (First Leg), Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field, Seattle

Sounders FC Factoids

— Sounders FC is 13-1-3 in its last 17 domestic (MLS and Open Cup) matches; 10-1-3 in MLS

— With 48 points through 29 matches Seattle has surpassed its total of 2009 and is five wins above .500 for the first time since the end of last season

— The five game win streak matches the longest in MLS this season (Real Salt Lake won five straight in May) and the Rave Green is unbeaten in six league games altogether

— Seattle is tied for second in road wins (6) and has posted five shutouts in its last seven away

— Seattle is unbeaten in its last 10 (8-0-2) at home in MLS (5-0-2) and Open Cup (3-0-0) play

— Blaise Nkufo has scored five goals in the last five matches, including two game-winners, and Seattle is 9-0-1 in his ten starts

— Fredy Montero has 12 goals (six game-winners) and 11 assists in all competitions. He is one of two players to rank among MLS top ten in both goals (10) and assists (10)

— The 14 wins is two more than 2009 total and the 11 shutouts surpasses the 10 earned last year

— Kasey Keller has played in 54 consecutive MLS matches, dating to April 25, 2009

— 18 of the team’s 38 goals have been scored either in the first or last 15 minutes

— 12 of the 33 goals allowed have come in the final 15 minutes

— Sounders FC is 12-2-3 when scoring first and 1-6-2 when allowing two or more goals

— Nine of the 14 MLS victories have been shutouts and in the 19 wins (19-13-8) over all competitions the average goals allowed is 0.42

— Seattle shattered its own MLS season attendance record, averaging 36,173 for the regular season. It averaged 30,943 in 2009

MLS Cup Playoff Tickets on Sale Thursday

Tickets for Seattle’s opening MLS Cup Playoffs game go on sale Thursday, October 21, at 10 a.m. PT. Sounders FC will host the first leg of a conference semifinal against a yet-to-be-determined opponent on October 31 at 5 p.m. PT on the Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field.

Sounders FC fans have filled the stadium to capacity for 31 consecutive MLS matches, and deposits of $50 per seat are now being taken for new 2011 season tickets.

Tickets are available for the Saprissa match at, by calling 800-745-3000, or at all Ticketmaster outlets and the Qwest Field Box office.

Champions League: We’ll Be Back

Tuesday will mark the end of Seattle’s first foray into CONCACAF Champions League play, but it will be back in the fray in 2011. CONCACAF announced that the Sounders FC 2-1 win over the Columbus Crew in the Open Cup final clinched a place in the 2011-12 tournament. Seattle had qualified for this year’s preliminary round by virtue of winning the 2009 Open Cup. Still to be decided are the other U.S. representatives in 2011-12. Typically the MLS Cup Champion and Supporters Shield winners take two of the four spots allotted to America.

Seattle became the first club in 27 years to successfully retain the Open Cup, and the crowd of 31,311 in the final was the largest in the tournament’s 97-year history. The 2-1 win over Columbus earned Seattle a berth in the 2011-12 CONCACAF Champions League, and a 2-1 win at Kansas City four days later clinched a place in the playoffs for the second year in a row.

A Second-Half Team

Since finishing the first half of the MLS season at 4-8-3, Seattle has taken 33 of a possible 42 points in the next 14 matches, going 10-1-3. Sounders FC owns the fourth-highest point total in MLS after finishing the first 15 matches seventh in the Western Conference and 11th overall.

The finish by Sounders FC is comparable to the sensational start by the L.A. Galaxy, which was 11-1-3 at the halfway stage. Over the second half of the season Seattle has totaled eight more points than FC Dallas (6-1-7), which went unbeaten in a league-record 19 straight games, and eight more than defending champion Real Salt Lake (6-1-7). It has taken 16 of a possible 21 points in its last seven MLS road matches, going 5-1-1 and has allowed just four goals.

Eight of the last 10 wins have been by a single goal, including game-winners in the final minutes against D.C. United and Chicago (twice). Five times the Rave Green came from behind or scored the winning goal in the second half.

Ode to October

Seattle has now won all six of its regular season games played in October, and Coach Sigi Schmid has a career mark of 13-6-2 for the month. Schmid-coached clubs (Sounders FC and Columbus) are unbeaten in their last nine (8-0-1) competitive October matches, including MLS Cup Playoffs and Open Cup. Altogether his teams are 10-2-2 in October playoffs. Seattle won its final three regular season matches in 2009, all in October.

Stevie Z Steps Up

There has been no shortage of clutch performers for the Rave Green in the last month. Steve Zakuani was the man of the moment last week against Chivas USA. In fact, he was voted the MLS Player of the Week after scoring the first goal and setting-up the second. The league’s highest-scoring rookie in 2009, Zakuani hiked his sophomore season totals to 10 goals and six assists. At 22 years and 8 months he is the 11th-youngest player to hit double figures in goals. In his first season he totaled four goals and four assists. His improved numbers this season have come despite attempting five fewer total shots. This is his second Player of the Week award this season. He was also cited in Week 17 after scoring twice against Colorado.

Tens & Twenties

Fredy Montero broke into an exclusive group when he assisted on Osvaldo Alonso’s goal against Chivas USA. With 10 goals and 10 assists Montero, at 23 years and 3 months, becomes the second-youngest player in the 15 year-existence of MLS to finish with such a double-double. Ronald Cerritos (22 years, 9 months) scored 12 goals and 10 assists for San Jose in 1997. Although he has not scored since his brace against Chicago on August 28, Montero shares the team lead in goals with Steve Zakuani, and his 10 assists breaks the record set by Freddie Ljungberg last season. He is one of two players to rank among the top 10 in both goals and assists this season and ranks among the top five in both game-winning goals (4) and game-winning assists (4).

Against Chivas USA, Montero nearly ended his scoreless streak, forcing a full-stretch save from Zach Thornton on a long-range attempt. He also served a pinpoint cross to Zakuani for a snap header which was denied by Thornton.

Montero and Zakuani are the fourth 10-goal duo under age 24, joining Landon Donovan-Herculez Gomez (Los Angeles, 2005), Taylor Twellman-Pat Noonan (New England, 2003) and Stern John-Jeff Cunningham (Columbus, 1999).

A Broad Base

After a long stretch in which Fredy Montero shouldered much of the offensive load, the attack has become much more balanced since August. Six different players have scored goals during the win streak, including five midfielders. Against Chivas USA Osvaldo Alonso scored his first goal since June 17, 2009. Montero scored (9) or assisted (7) on 16 of the 19 goals scored by Sounders FC from April 22 through August 28. His nine consecutive matches with either a goal or an assist from June 5 through August 8 remains the longest in the league this season.

Beware of Twenty-Somethings

Sounders FC features a relatively young starting XI. For the past five MLS matches Sigi Schmid’s lineup has featured six players ages 25 and under. In fact the average of the midfield quartet-Sanna Nyassi (21), Osvaldo Alonso (24), Nathan Sturgis (23) and Steve Zakuani (22)-is 22.5. The other starting members of the 25-and-under set are forward Fredy Montero (23) and center back Patrick Ianni (25).

Riley: Club’s Humanitarian of the Year

Right back James Riley has been named the Sounders FC MLS W.O.R.K.S. Humanitarian of the Year. Riley’s work with Susan G. Komen for the Cure and breast cancer awareness earned him MLS W.O.R.K.S. Humanitarian of the Month for October. He also is involved with the Renton/Skyway Boys & Girls Club, Gilda’s Club, Ronald McDonald House, Children’s Hospital, America SCORES and Washington Special Olympics. Taylor Graham was Seattle’s Humanitarian of the Year in 2009.

Playoff Seeding Scramble

The contestants have all been determined but positioning remains in flux for the MLS Cup Playoffs, and it will all likely go down to the final regular season match on Sunday evening. Los Angeles (56) and Real Salt Lake (55 points) are dueling down to the wire for the Supporters Shield and Western Conference top seed. New York (48) and Columbus (47) are vying for the East’s top spot. FC Dallas (50), Seattle (48), Colorado (45) and San Jose (43) are scrambling for seeding in the West, with the fifth- and sixth-place teams swinging to the East bracket. The Quakes have a game in hand on Seattle and Colorado.

Los Angeles (56 points): FC Dallas (10/24)

Real Salt Lake (55 points): at Colorado (10/23)

New York (48 points): New England (10/21)

Columbus (46 points): Philadelphia (10/24)

FC Dallas (50 points): at Los Angeles (10/24)

Seattle (48 points): at Houston (10/23)

Colorado (45 points): Real Salt Lake (10/23)

San Jose (43 points): Chivas USA (10/20), at Kansas City (10/23)

The tiebreaker for teams tied in the standings are separated as follows: greatest number of points in games among the tied teams; best goal difference among the tied teams; total goals (all games).

Conference Semifinal Format

Conference Semifinal series are conducted in a home-and-home, aggregate-goal format. The lower seeded team in the Conference Semifinal hosts the first game. The team that scores the most goals in the home-and-home series advances to the single elimination Conference Championship. If the teams are tied after 180 minutes in the Conference Semifinal series, a 30-minute extra time period (divided into two 15-minute periods) will be played followed by kicks from the penalty mark, if necessary. The advancing team with the higher seed between the two Conference finalists will host the Conference Championship game.

Fourth Series Won

Not only has Sounders FC now notched at least one win over each team in MLS by virtue of its victory over Chivas USA, Seattle also won its fourth season series. Earlier it clinched series’ with Columbus, Chicago and Kansas City. A draw or win at Houston would be another series win. The only series loss was to Los Angeles. The remaining series ended tied.

Steps to Better Performance

The reversal of fortune first began with sealing defensive leaks.During the first half of the season Sounders FC allowed 1.53 goals per game. Over the second half of the season the defense has a GAA of 0.71 goals (10 in 14 games) with seven shutouts, and it has risen to fourth in MLS. The 11 total shutouts is one more than the entire 2009 season. Since July 11 the back four of James Riley, Patrick Ianni, Jeff Parke and Leo Gonzalez has started together nine times. Goalkeeper Kasey Keller has started 54 consecutive games and has 21 shutouts in 58 career appearances.

In the middle of the park, Sounders FC has found both stability and energy. Osvaldo Alonso and Nathan Sturgis have started together 11 of the last 12 matches, the sole exception being the September 4 loss at New England. Sanna Nyassi was installed as the regular on the right beginning July 25 and initially provided increased speed and defense on the flank, and has now emerged as a scoring threat.

Up front, Fredy Montero has found a complimentary partner in Blaise Nkufo. In Nkufo’s ten starts he has scored five goals and Seattle is 9-0-1.

In the Cards

Fredy Montero will miss Saturday’s match in Houston after being issued his fifth yellow card of season against Chivas USA. Osvaldo Alonso goes into the match on four yellows. A fifth yellow card results in a one-game suspension.

Yellow card suspensions do not carry over into the postseason, although players would face corresponding fines. Red cards received in the final regular season game do carryover into the first game of the playoffs.

Last MLS Match: Sounders FC 2, Chivas USA 1 – October 15, 2010 – Recap

Steve Zakuani and Osvaldo Alonso struck for goals in the first 25 minutes as the Sounders FC extended its win streak to a record-breaking five straight.Seattle improved to 10-1-3 in its last 14 MLS matches and is undefeated (8-0-2) at home in 10 MLS and Open Cup matches since June 10.

It was Seattle’s first win in five league meetings with the Red and White. It had beaten Chivas USA, 3-1, in the U.S. Open Cup semifinal last month.

Sounders FC scored early with a goal in the 9th minute. Jeff Parke flicked a ball to Zakuani in the midfield. After he fought through a crowd of defenders, Zakuani juked Zach Thornton, the approaching keeper, and rolled the ball into the net from 10 yards.It was the first time Sounders FC scored against Chivas USA in five MLS contests.

Seattle scored again in the 25th minute, with Alonso starting and finishing the sequence. He won the ball and found Montero on the left flank. Montero sent Zakuani to the end line, and the left winger cut it back to the middle where a streaking Alonso knocked it past Thornton from six yards.It was Alonso’s first goal since June 17, 2009. Montero is tied for fourth in MLS with 10 assists and Zakuani has six.

Nathan Sturgis missed a close-range shot in the 62nd minute after Zakuani’s header was parried by Thornton.

Chivas USA pulled back with a goal in second-half stoppage time. Rodolfo Espinoza swung in a cross and Jesus Padilla headed it past Kasey Keller at the far post.

The visitors finished with a 14-11 edge in shots (4-3 on goal). Each team had five corner kicks.

Friendly Recap: Sounders FC 3, Chivas de Guadalajara 1 – October 12, 2010

Mike Fucito and Nate Jaqua each scored in the first 18 minutes as Seattle beat CD Chivas de Guadalajara in an international friendly before 41,047.Fucito recorded a goal and an assist, Roger Levesque assisted on two goals and Sanna Nyassi scored for the fifth time in the last four matches.

Sounders FC wasted little time in going in front. Levesque battled for a ball at the top of the box and slipped a pass behind the defense. Fucito took the ball in stride and beat the onrushing Chivas keeper with a right-footed shot that caromed off the left post.

Fucito, who turned and fired off the left post in the 26th minute, also figured in the second scoring sequence, finding Levesque down the left wing. Levesque crossed to the far post and Jaqua slammed a header past goalkeeper Luis Michel from six yards, making 2-nil.

Chivas cut the deficit in half in the 70th minute when Marco Fabian headed home a left-wing cross from Michel Oviedo. Fabian had entered the match just six minutes earlier.

Playing with a man advantage following the ejection of Juan Ocampo in the 77th minute, Seattle sealed the win in the 90th minute. Just two minutes after entering the match, Nyassi knocked a rebound into an open net after Fredy Montero 30-yard shot bounced off the left post.

Terry Boss made three saves, including a diving save on Miguel Ponce’s shot in the 74th minute.Seattle had a 14-10 advantage in shots (5-4 on goal) with seven coming from Fucito

Attendance Standard Smashed

Records are made to be broken yet Seattle supporters may have now pushed the bar beyond the reach of most other MLS clubs. Only two have home grounds with seating capacities larger than 36,000. With a sellout crowd of 36,356 versus Chivas USA, Sounders FC finished the regular season with a 15-match total of 542,600, averaging 36,173. The match also marked the 31st consecutive sellout. In 2009 Sounders FC fans established an MLS record (30,943).

The top 10 home season attendance averages are as follows:

2010 Seattle Sounders FC: 36,173

2009 Seattle Sounders FC: 30,943

1996 Los Angeles Galaxy: 28,916

2008 Los Angeles Galaxy: 26,009

2007 Los Angeles Galaxy: 24,252

2005 Los Angeles Galaxy: 24,204

1996 MetroStars: 23,898

2004 Los Angeles Galaxy: 23,809

1997 New England Revolution: 21,423

1998 Los Angeles Galaxy: 21,784

Champions League Crowd Puller

Seattle has also paced the CONCACAF Champions League in attendance, drawing three of the top eight gates thus far in the preliminary and group stage rounds. The crowd of 22,513 for Monterrey on August 25 is the largest to date and the third-largest attendance for a Champions League/Champions Cup match played on American soil. The Sounders FC game at Monterrey was the second-largest (19,617) of the tournament.

Sounders FC Top Attendances

The top 10 attendances are as follows:

66,848        August 5, 2009      Seattle v Barcelona (friendly)

65,289 July 18, 2009 Seattle v Chelsea (friendly)

45,631 July 18, 2010 Seattle v Celtic (friendly)

41,047 October 12, 2010 Seattle v Chivas de Guadalajara (friendly)

40,122 May 26, 2010 Seattle v Boca Juniors (friendly)

36,386 August 28, 2010 Seattle v Chicago

36,356 October 15, 2010 Seattle v Chivas USA

36,344 June 5, 2010 Seattle v New England

36,333 July 25, 2010 Seattle v Colorado

36,273 May 8, 2010 Seattle v Los Angeles

*46,011 November 22, 2009 MLS Cup (Real Salt Lake v L.A.)

Looking Good in Electricity

When Sounders FC dons its third kit for cups and friendlies, nobody shines brighter than the strike tandem of Mike Fucito and Nate Jaqua. Jaqua finished as the co-leader in the U.S. Open Cup with five goals and Fucito is 11th in the Champions League with three scores. Both forwards tallied goals in last week’s Chivas de Guadalajara friendly. Fucito scored twice in a 2-0 Champions League win over Marathon on September 29, and had one in the previous CCL match at Monterrey.

Expansion Teams: Year Two

In 2009, Sounders FC became the first expansion team since 1998 to reach the playoffs. Sounders FC has now matched Chicago and Miami by qualifying in each its first two seasons. Chicago, Miami and Chivas USA made the playoffs in their second year of play. No franchise, original or expansion, has fewer losses in its first two years. Sounders FC has 16. Chicago and Kansas City each had a total of 26 in its first two seasons; San Jose and FC Dallas had 27 and Los Angeles 29.

42 Matches & Counting

By the end of the regular season on Sunday, no other MLS club will have played more matches than Sounders FC. Combining MLS (30), Champions League preliminary (2) and group stage (6) fixtures, plus Open Cup matches (4), Seattle will have played 42 competitive matches prior to the MLS Cup Playoffs. It played 38, including playoffs, in 2009. Columbus, which is also active in the CCL and Open Cup, will also play 42 competitive matches.

Among the Leaders

Seattle leads the league in fouls suffered (349) and corner kicks (170). It is second in assists (43) and tied for fifth in goals (38). Fredy Montero has taken 91 shots (3rd) with 34 on goal (T0inh). His four game-winning goals is tied for fourth. He has committed 44 fouls (4th) and suffered 60 (4th). Steve Zakuani and Montero’s four game-winning assists is tied for fourth. Kasey Keller is now third amongst goalkeepers with 14 wins. Keller’s 11 shutouts is tied-second and he is tied-fourth with 80 saves.

About Houston

The Dynamo will miss the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time since moving to Texas in 2006. Houston fell on hard times during the summer months, going on a 10-game winless (0-6-4) stretch from May to August followed by a four-game losing streak in September. Despite a tough summer, the Dynamo has won two of its last four. It traveled to San Jose last Saturday and beat the Earthquakes, 1-0, in its final road game of the season. The result allowed the Dynamo to jump past Chivas USA and out of last place in the Western Conference. Prior to the win, Houston had won just twice (2-11-5) since May 22.

Houston ranks among MLS’ top five in goals (5th with 38), assists (3rd with 40) and corner kicks (3rd with 152). The Dynamo has a 5-6-3 record at home where it averages 1.64 goals (1.00 on the road). It is 2-13-1 when allowing the first goal but has allowed the most goals in the final 15 minutes (10) and leads the league in second-half goals allowed (0.90).

Dynamo Notables

Houston’s offense features a balanced attack in which 15 different players have scored this season. Brian Ching leads the team with seven goals but is sixth with just 24 shots taken. All-Star midfielder Brad Davis leads the team in assists (10, T-4th in MLS) and is second in goals (5). Forward Dominic Oduro has emerged as a scoring threat with five goals and three assists. Starting goalkeeper Pat Onstad, who missed last Saturday’s match with a hand injury, has earned four shutouts and has a goals against average of 1.73. Backup keeper Tally Hall was also sidelined on Saturday with an ankle injury, allowing a youngster to get the start. Tyler Deric, a 22-year-old Dynamo academy keeper, became the youngest player to start in net for Houston. Deric made three saves against San Jose and earned a shutout in his MLS debut.

Seattle/Houston Connections

Houston features several personalities with Northwest ties, including two former A-League/USL-1 Sounders. Forward Cam Weaver was the Sounders’ top scorer in 2005 as a rookie out of Seattle University. Weaver had helped the Redhawks win the NCAA Division II championship in 2004. Forward Brian Ching starred at Gonzaga and made the all-league team with the Sounders in 2002. Dominic Kinnear, the Dynamo head coach, played for the Sounders’ 1995 A-League championship team.Mike Chabala played his collegiate career at Washington. Backup goalkeeper Tally Hall is a native of Gig Harbor, Washington.

Ex-Dynamo Duo

Two members of the Sounders FC came north from Houston during the 2009 offseason. Nate Jaqua played parts of two seasons for the Dynamo, scoring 10 goals and six assists in 29 regular season appearances during 2007 and 2008. His goal against Kansas City in the 2007 Western Conference final helped Houston repeat as MLS Cup champion.

Jaqua, who came to Sounders FC via the expansion draft, scored two game-tying goals against the Dynamo last season. His 89th minute goal in the July 21 U.S. Open Cup semifinal sent the match into extra time. Seattle prevailed, 2-1, on a Stephen King goal. Jaqua also scored the 70th minute equalizer in an MLS meeting which ended 1-1 on August 23. In the scoreless first leg of the 2009 playoffs, his second-half header forced a reflex save from Pat Onstad to tip it over the bar.

Patrick Ianni was obtained in a January 26 trade for a conditional pick in the 2010 SuperDraft. Ianni spent his first three pro seasons wearing orange, making 35 league appearances for the Dynamo from 2006-08. He played in both regular season meetings last season, and scored the game-winner on a second-half overhead kick in a 2-1 Seattle home win on July 11.

Last Meeting: Sounders FC 2, Houston Dynamo 0 – August 8, 2010 – Recap

Fredy Montero and Alvaro Fernandez scored second-half goals as the Sounders FC won its fourth in a row. Montero scored what proved to be the game-winner in the 64th minute and the newly signed Uruguayan international, Fernandez, scored his first league goal in his home debut.

Montero broke a scoreless deadlock after a long punt by Kasey Keller. With a Dynamo defender draped on his back, Montero chested the ball down, spun to his left and cracked a low 15-yard drive past Tally Hall to the far post. Keller’s assist was the first point for a Sounders FC goalkeeper.

Seattle added an insurance goal in the 88th minute. From near midfield Montero played Fernandez through with a ball toward the top of the box. Fernandez, who had come on as a substitute in the 69th minute, pushed the ball forward and then slid a right-footed shot past Hall.

Sounders FC held a commanding advantage in shots 14-6 (9-0 on goal) and 10-5 on corner kicks. Keller was not required to make a save in securing his seventh shutout.

Previous Sounders FC-Houston Meetings

Sounders FC 2, Dynamo 1 – July 11, 2009 – Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field

Patrick Ianni’s goal in the opening minute of the second half gave Seattle its first comeback win. A weak defensive clearance led to the game’s opening goal. Houston’s Brad Davis fired past Kasey Keller from 16 yards in the 12th minute. Fred Montero equalized for Seattle in the 31st minute. Off a counterattack, he ran onto Nate Jaqua’s right-wing cross and on his second touch, chipped over Pat Onstad. Mike Chabala, trailing the play, was judged to have cleared the ball just after it crossed the goal line. Ianni, who came to Seattle from Houston in a preseason trade, put Sounders FC ahead in the opening minute of the second half. A corner kick by Freddie Ljungberg was headed on by Jhon Kennedy Hurtado to Ianni, whose overhead kick evaded Onstad and found the left corner. Seattle was without head coach Sigi Schmid, who was in California attending the marriage of his son, Kurt Schmid.

Sounders FC 1, Dynamo 1 – August 23, 2009 – Robertson Stadium

Nate Jaqua’s volley claimed a valuable Seattle point on the road as the Sounders FC battled from a goal down for the third time against Houston. The Dynamo scored the first goal in the 36th minute when Geoff Cameron flicked Brad Davis’ free kick past Kasey Keller. Jaqua broke through in the 70th minute. James Riley served a long cross from the right wing and Zakuani headed back across the crease for Jaqua to volley home from 9 yards.

Sounders FC 0, Dynamo 0 – October 29, 2009 – Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field

Before 35,807 fans, the largest crowd to see an MLS Conference Semifinal match, the league’s top two defensive teams ended scoreless in the first leg of their two-game aggregate series. Sounders FC defender Patrick Ianni, a late replacement for Tyrone Marshallin the Seattle starting lineup, provided the game’s two closest scoring opportunities. In the 14th minute, Ianni’s header from a corner kick by Freddie Ljungberg was cleared off the goal line by Dynamo midfielder Brian Mullan. Another Ianni header from a Ljungberg free kick in the 43rd minute hit the crossbar.

Sounders FC 0, Dynamo 1 – November 8, 2009 – Robertson Stadium

An extra time goal from Brian Ching ended the Sounders inaugural season in the second leg of the Western Conference Semifinals. Both teams also saw several near misses throughout the scoreless 90 minutes of regulation. For the Dynamo, Dominic Oduro’s overhead kick beat Kasey Keller but was cleared by James Riley in the 3rd minute. Eight minutes later, Oduro’s shot from outside the box bounced off the left post. The two-match series still scoreless following 180 minutes, the outcome would be decided in 30 minutes of extra time. Brian Mullan gathered a cross from Mike Chabala and sent it into the box where Ching knocked it past Keller in the 96th minute.

Sounders FC 2, Dynamo 1 – July 21, 2009 – Starfire Sports Stadium (Open Cup Semifinal)

Stephen King scored the game-winning goal in the fifth minute of overtime to give the Sounders FC a comeback win before a stadium record crowd of 4,895. Houston scored first, in the 32nd minute. Ade Akinbiyi finished a loose ball in the box that the Seattle defense was unable to clear out. In the 89th minute Nate Jaqua got the equalizer from close range, his shot deflecting off a Dynamo defender. King’s goal came after Steve Zakuani’s cross was settled by Sebastien Le Toux. King’s 12-yard shot beat Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall. The victory sent the Sounders FC to Washington,D.C. and the Cup Final against defending champion D.C. United on September 2.

Shooting for Third

Sounders FC still has a shot at taking third place in Group C of the Champions League when it hosts Costa Rica’s CD Saprissa. Seattle was eliminated from contention for next spring’s knockout round by virtue of Saprissa’s 2-2 draw with group leader Monterrey on September 28. Unbeaten (4-0-1) Monterrey has clinched first place with 13 points. Saprissa (2-2-1) has seven, followed by CD Marathon (2-3-0, 6 points) and Sounders FC (1-4-1, 3 points).

With a win Saprissa advances. However a draw or loss gives Marathon the opportunity to move into second with a victory over group winner Monterrey on October 20.

Three teams had to play three of their first four CCL fixtures on the road: Seattle, Toronto FC and Santos of Mexico. Both the Sounders FC and Reds have been eliminated; Santos leads Group B but has yet to clinch advancement.

Last Meeting: Sounders FC 0, CD Saprissa 2 – September 14, 2010 – Recap

Down to 10 men for the entire second half, Sounders FC surrendered two second half goals and was unable to capitalize on a penalty kick in losing its third straight in the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League at Estadio Ricardo Saprissa.

Seattle’s Leo Gonzalez, a native of San Jose, was issued a red card in the 38th minute for a high kick foul Saprissa’s Jairo Arrieta while attempting to clear the ball. Prior to the sending off, Sounders FC had been the aggressor.

After a scoreless first half, Saprissa took advantage in the 56th minute when David Guzman took Fernando Paniagua’s pass and shot inside the far post past Terry Boss for the 1-0 lead.

It was Boss’ second competitive start for Seattle, having debuted in a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal against L.A. on July 7.

Seattle had a chance to equalize in the 67th minute after Fredy Montero was tripped inside the box by Saprissa defender Gabriel Badilla. Osvaldo Alonso took the penalty, but Fausto Gonzalez dived to his right and saved the midfielder’s shot.

Saprissa secured the win on a counterattack in the 82nd minute, as Josue Martinez found forward Allan Aleman who slipped the ball past Boss for the 2-0 advantage.

The Purple Monster finished with a 10-5 advantage in shots and 6-3 in corners. Seattle committed 19 fouls to Saprissa’s 12. Roger Levesque, Alvaro Fernandez, Tyson Wahl and Boss were each issued yellow cards.

Champions League Group C

Sounders FC is among four MLS teams competing in the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League. The top two teams in each four-team group advance to the knockout rounds in early 2011. Real Salt Lake, Columbus Crew and Toronto FC are the other MLS teams in contention. The L.A. Galaxy was eliminated in the preliminary round.

Group C consists of Seattle, Monterrey (Mexico), Saprissa (Costa Rica) and Marathon (Honduras). Sounders FC eliminated Isidro Metapan (El Salvador), 2-1 on aggregate, in the preliminary round while Marathon defeated Tauro (Panama), 4-2 on aggregate. The schedule for Group C (home teams listed first):

Round One

Tuesday, August 17

Monterrey (MEX) 1 vs. Saprissa (CRC) 0

Thursday, August 19

Marathon (HON) 2 vs. Seattle Sounders FC (USA) 0

Round Two

Wednesday, August 25

Seattle Sounders FC (USA) 0 vs. Monterrey (MEX) 2

Thursday, August 26

Saprissa (CRC) 4 vs. Marathon (HON) 1

Round Three

Tuesday, September 14

Monterrey (MEX) 2 vs. Marathon (HON) 0, 5 p.m. PT

Saprissa (CRC) 2 vs. Seattle Sounders FC (USA) 0

Round Four

Wednesday, September 22

Monterrey (MEX) 3 vs. Seattle Sounders FC (USA) 2

Marathon (HON) 2 vs. Saprissa (CRC) 1

Round Five

Tuesday, September 28

Saprissa (CRC) 2 vs. Monterrey (MEX) 2, 7 p.m. PT

Wednesday, September 29

Seattle Sounders FC (USA) 2 vs. Marathon (HON) 0, 7 p.m. PT

Round Six

Tuesday, October 19

Seattle Sounders FC (USA) vs. Saprissa (CRC), 7 p.m. PT

Wednesday, October 20

Marathon (HON) vs. Monterrey (MEX), 7 p.m. PT

About Saprissa (Courtesy of CONCACAF)

Club: Deportivo Saprissa

Founded: 1935

City: San Jose, Costa Rica

Stadium: Estadio Ricardo Saprissa

Manager: Roy Myers

Qualification method: Costa Rican Verano champion

Previous Champions League appearances: 2 (2008-09, 2009-10)

Honors: Costa Rican league – 29 (1952-53, 1953-54, 1957-58, 1962-63, 1964-65, 1965-66, 1967-68, 1969-70, 1972-73, 1973-74, 1974-75, 1976-77, 1977-78, 1982-83, 1988-89, 1989-90, 1993-94, 1994-95, 1997-98, 2003-04, 2005-06, 2006-07, 2007-08 Apertura, 2007-08 Clausura, 2008-09 Apertura, 2010 Clausura); CONCACAF Champions Cup – 3 (1993, 1995, 2005); Copa Interclubes UNCAF – 5 (1972, 1973, 1978, 1998, 2003)

Not just the most decorated club in Costa Rica, Deportivo Saprissa is also one of the most successful clubs in the entire CONCACAF region. El Monstruo Morado (the Purple Monster) has won a record 29 Primera Division de Costa Rica titles and captured the CONCACAF Champions Cup, the predecessor to the Champions League, three times and have five Central American crowns. One of the greatest moments in club history came in 2005 when Saprissa became the first non-Mexican squad from CONCACAF to play in the FIFA Club World Cup. Saprissa finished third, equaling Mexico’s Necaxa for the best finish in the competition by a CONCACAF squad. Saprissa plays at Estadio Ricardo Saprissa, a 23,112-seat fortress known as La Cueva del Monstruo (the Monster’s Cave) and has become a favorite for the Costa Rican national team. Estadio Saprissa features an artificial turf surface. Roy Myers, who has been capped 45 times and played in the 1990 World Cup for Costa Rica, is the manager. Myers played in MLS for New York and Los Angeles, where his coach was Sigi Schmid. Former Costa Rican international defender Victor Cordero, who has been with Saprissa for 18 seasons, is the captain. Saprissa is 4-6-3 and eighth in the Costa Rica Primera Division after falling, 4-3, away to Perez Zeledon on Saturday.

Last CCL Match: Seattle Sounders FC 2, CD Marathon 0 – September 29, 2010 – Recap

Mike Fucito scored both goals as Seattle earned its first win in the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League.

Fucito chased down a bouncing ball in the 21st minute and chested it through the Marathon backline. With just the keeper to beat, he blasted a left-footed shot from 16 yards inside the far post.

In the 68th minute, Fucito sent a curling free kick around the wall and into the top corner for his second goal of the game. Moments later, Fucito left the game after sustaining a right ankle sprain.

Fucito has four competitive goals for Sounders FC this season. At Monterrey on September 22, he scored Seattle’s second goal and his shot in the 27th minute led to an own goal.

Miguel Montano had a pair of shots in the 52nd minute. First, he stole the ball and shot from 8 yards, forcing a save from keeper Orlin Vallencillo. Seconds later, Montano rocketed a shot from outside the 18-yard box that hit Vallencillo and nearly rolled across the goal line.

Terry Boss earned his second shutout in his fourth competitive start.The two sides were even with 11 shots, but Seattle had seven on goal compared to two for Marathon.

U18s Tie USA; Academy Teams Take First Road Trip

The Sounders FC Academy teams take their first road trip this weekend, traveling to the L.A. for matches Saturday and Sunday with the academy teams of the Galaxy and Chivas USA, respectively.

Last Friday Seattle’s U18 squad scored in stoppage time to earn a 3-3 draw with the U.S. U17 National Team at Qwest Field. Glenn Paden headed in a corner kick from Dominique Dismuke in the 92nd minute after Team USA had gone ahead in the 89th minute. Sean Okoli and Brandon Brockway had given the Sounders FC a 2-nil lead in the first half-hour.

Back on October 2 and 3, the Sounders FC U16 team won its first two matches at home while the U18s tied twice to open their season in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy.

On Saturday the U18s face the Galaxy at 1 p.m. PT, followed by the U16s at 3:30 p.m. PT. Both will be played at The Home Depot Field 5. Sunday’s game are at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. PT, respectively, at Cerritos College.

Sounders FC Roster

The following players are currently training with Sounders FC: Goalkeepers (2): Terry Boss, Kasey Keller; Defenders (10): Taylor Graham, Leo Gonzalez, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Patrick Ianni, Tyrone Marshall, Jeff Parke, James Riley, Zach Scott, Tyson Wahl, Jamel Wallace*. Midfielders (8): Osvaldo Alonso, David Estrada, Brad Evans, Alvaro Fernandez, Sanna Nyassi, Michael Seamon, Nathan Sturgis, Peter Vagenas; Forwards (9): Mike Fucito, Blaise Nkufo, Nate Jaqua, Roger Levesque, Miguel Montano, Fredy Montero, Pat Noonan, Ty Perdido*, Steve Zakuani.

* invitee


Alvaro Fernandez was a runaway winner for MLS Goal of the Week for his deftly taken effort at Kansas City. It was the third time in four weeks that a Sounders FC player copped the award…Nate Jaqua was named the Player of the U.S. Open Cup Tournament by The…Seattle has started the same XI for the past five games, the longest such stretch in the club’s two seasons. There will be a change this week due to the suspension of forward Fredy Montero…Seattle has now won four in a row twice this season…Sounders FC is 4-0-3 in the last seven against Western Conference members…Tuesday, October 19, marks the 13th anniversary of the Seattle SeaDogs winning the 1997 CISL championship, beating Houston, 7-1, to sweep the three-game series. Dick McCormick (now manager/head coach of the Sounders FC Academy teams) scored twice, Bill Crook (academy U16 assistant coach) got a goal and Brian Schmetzer (top assistant to Sigi Schmid) was the SeaDogs’ player/assistant coach…Sigi Schmid and technical director Chris Henderson will return from Houston to Seattle via Los Angeles. Both will attend the 20th anniversary gathering of the UCLA men’s soccer team’s 1990 NCAA championship on Sunday. Schmid was the Bruins’ coach from 1980-98 and Henderson was an All-American midfielder. Members of the title team will participate in a reunion game before being honored at halftime of the UCLA-California match…Fredy Montero becomes the fourth player in Seattle pro soccer history to finish with a double-double in goals and assists. The other Sounders were Roger Davies (25g, 11a in 1980), Peter Ward (14g, 12a in 1982) and Leighton O’Brien (13g, 11a in 2002).


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