Men of the Match
Sounders FC starts with a Win
By Matt Gaschk
Sounders FC Insider
As debuts go, the Sounders FC couldn’t have asked for much more than their inaugural game Thursday night. They had a sellout crowd of 32,523 at Xbox Pitch at Qwest Field. They introduced that crowd, and a national TV audience on ESPN2, to Colombian sensation Fredy Montero, whose dynamic play was on full display. And, most importantly, they shut out the New York Red Bulls 3-0.
Montero scored two goals and assisted the third while Kasey Keller, an Olympia native, had a clean sheet in his MLS debut in front of his home crowd.
“It was everything you dreamed of,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said.
“You couldn’t have written it any better,” Keller said. “For me, obviously, the win is paramount. They put us under a little bit of pressure midway through the second half and we rode that pressure well. We knew that with the speed and offensive power that we have that if they have to chase the game against us and leave gaps in the back, we have players to take advantage of that. We got three of them tonight and I think there’s going to be more to come in the future.”
The game kicked off after a pre-game ceremony, highlighted by Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire presenting the Golden Scarf to MLS commissioner Don Garber at midfield. He raised the ceremonial scarf into the air and was followed by the Seattle fans in a sea of green scarves covering the stands.
That passion spilled onto the field in the 12th minute when Montero scored his first MLS goal. Sebastien Le Toux took a pass from Osvaldo Alonso from 22 yards out, turned it toward the middle and crossed it to Montero on the right side of the penalty box. He gathered the ball with one touch and blasted it past New York goalkeeper Danny Cepero into the left side of the net for the 1-0 lead.
In the 25th minute, Montero drew the New York defense to him 26 yards out and led a pass to Brad Evans behind the defense. He slipped a shot past Cepero to make it 2-0 with still plenty of soccer to play.
“I just saw Fredy get the ball and I made it through and I hoped that he saw me. He wasn’t even looking, but he popped the ball right in there. I knew the keeper was coming out and was going to crush me, so I just touched and didn’t even look,” Evans said. “Luckily it went through his legs. I totally didn’t expect it.”
Montero added his second goal in the 75th minute, picking off a ball cleanly in New York’s defensive third. With a defender on his hip, he carried the ball into the penalty box, juked Cepero to the ground and knocked the ball in for the final 3-0 tally.
“We were opportunistic and finished our goals. Tremendous finishing by Fredy Montero, on the last goal especially against the run of play,” Schmid said. “I couldn’t be more pleased.”
Keller finished with two saves and Alonso played a standout game from the midfield. Zach Scott also shined in his first MLS game after seven years with the USL Sounders.
Seattle outshot New York 14-8, with only two of New York’s shots providing much pressure on Keller.
“The beauty in any game is in the final result and it was a beautiful final result,” Schmid said. “3-0 at home in the opener for this franchise and MLS. The crowd was outstanding. The atmosphere was tremendous.”
Many of those in attendance marched with owners Joe Roth, Adrian Hanauer and Drew Carey and Seattle mayor Greg Nickels from Occidental Park to Qwest Field, singing and chanting with the Sound Wave marching band all the way there.
That March to the Match will be a tradition at each game, and will take place next when the Sounders FC face Real Salt Lake next Saturday for a 7:30 pm kickoff.