The Sounders FC opened Qwest Field Sunday morning in nearly the best way they could imagine. Nate Jaqua and Fredy Montero scored two goals apiece and Kasey Keller posted a shutout with the defense playing likely their best game of the preseason in a 4-0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps of the USL First Divison.
While the crowd was limited to friends and family - including majority owner Joe Roth, GM Adrian Hanauer, Technical Director Chris Henderson and CEO Tod Leiweke – it gave the club a good feel for playing at Qwest Field.
“It’s fun playing here regardless of the crowd, but I’m sure it will fun when this place is full,” Jaqua said.
Added Keller, “It’s all about your home and feeling comfortable in a home environment. We won our first game against a good Vancouver team.”
Vancouver gave the Sounders FC a good run early in the game, clearly carrying momentum into 2009 from their 2008 USL championship. They got some early pressure on Keller, shooting from long-distance in the first minute of the game and forcing a parry from the Sounders FC keeper. Then in the 22nd minute Marco Reda forced a turnover and got off a good shot from just inside the 18 that Keller got his right foot on to clear it away.
“Anytime you can score four goals, you’re happy with that. Vancouver is a very good side in USL. The game of soccer, you’re not going to dominate somebody all the time. I thought there was about 15 minutes there, where they probably had the better part of the game, but then after that we got more of the game, and came up with some good goals and some timely goals,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said.
The Seattle defense cleaned it up after the early Vancouver chances and were controlling and consistent for the remainder of the game, led by the center back tandem of Taylor Graham and newcomer Tyrone Marshall.
“I’m very comfortable with Pat (Ianni) and Tyson (Wahl), but Taylor and Tyrone were fantastic today,” Keller said.
Seattle got several attacking opportunities as the first-half proceeded, and finally got on the scoresheet when Montero combined with Jaqua for a goal in the 37th minute. Jaqua jockeyed for position in front of a Vancouver defender and held him off when Montero sent a precise ball up the field through the middle. Jaqua ran with it and beat Vancouver keeper Jay Nolly from 16 yards out for the 1-0 lead.
Jaqua had barely finished celebrating when an opportunity for a second goal presented itself. Sanna Nyassi, who played brilliantly on the right side, crossed a ball toward the near post for Sebastien Le Toux. He nodded a header that was turned away by Nolly right to Jaqua’s feet and he knocked it in for his second goal in a two-minutes stretch, giving Seattle a 2-0 lead in the 39th minute.
Non-roster invitee Roger Levesque entered the game for Nyassi in the second half and made a near-immediate impact. Defender Nathan Sturgis sent a long ball to Levesque, playing on the right wing, crossing the field from the left back spot. Levesque shielded his defender and chested the ball forward to get a runout. He worked the ball into the 18-yard box and passed to Montero when Nolly pulled off his line. Montero knocked home the shot to take a 3-0 lead in the 66th minute.
Again striking quickly, Seattle added to their lead in the 67th minute. Osvaldo Alonso hammered a shot from 22 yards out that was deflected deep into Vancouver’s penalty area. Montero chased it down and fired off a low-angle shot that bent past Nolly for Montero’s second goal of the game and seventh of the preseason, giving Seattle the 4-0 lead.
Seattle made a mass-substitution after the goal and the second group held off Vancouver and even created a great chance in the 85th minute that caromed off the post.
Today was Seattle’s last game before they head for Argentina on Tuesday for a nine-day training trip. They will play three exhibitions in Buenos Aires before returning March 6. They open the MLS regular season March 19 against the New York Red Bulls at Qwest Field.