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Off To A Good Start

The Sounders FC outscored the Whitecaps FC 1-0 in their first competition of the 2011 preseason on a goal from Brad Evans.

Casa Grande, Arizona - The Sounders FC got their first crack at an opponent in 2011 training camp on Friday evening at Grande Sports World when they faced the Vancouver Whitecaps in a training game.

After a outscoring Vancouver 1-0, there was a lot to be happy about as the Sounders held the expansion Whitecaps FC scoreless over three 35-minute periods.  Brad Evans scored the only goal of the evening on a great run-up, hammering in a shot from a David Estrada back-heel pass to cap a fine performance on both sides of the ball.

“My expectations were not too high today from a standpoint of we worked very hard yesterday - we trained twice yesterday.  We even trained this morning, 30 minutes of soccer tennis.  If you take it seriously, like the guys did, it can take something out of you,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said.  “But overall I was pleased.  I thought we created some chances.  We were close.  We were around the goal at times.  We were a bit fortunate they hit the post but overall considering the work we have done it’s sort of a fitting end to the first week.”

The Whitecaps put pressure on Seattle early, but the first-period center back pairing of Jeff Parke and Pat Ianni held strong in front of goalkeeper Kasey Keller.  In the second period, Ianni stayed in with Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, who made his first appearance since tearing his ACL last season in impressive fashion, in front of rookie netminder Bryan Meredith and still held their Cascadia rivals at bay.

“I think they put some pressure on us in the first 35 minutes and especially at the start of the second 35 when our guys were trying to get the rhythm of the game and their guys were (still) out there,” Schmid said. “I thought a lot of guys basically stepped up to those challenges.  I think them being able to win those duels, win those battles, recover when a guy slips in behind, all those things are important.”

Vancouver wasn’t without goal-scoring threats, but Seattle was able to deter each of their chances.  Davide Chiumiento forced Keller into three first-period saves, most notably in the 14th minute when Keller dove to make a save at the near post when Chiumiento shot from the right side.

In the sixth minute of the third game, Long Tan hit the crossbar after working into some space on the right side.  After that wake-up call, Josh Ford smothered every ball that came his way and kept a lineup that featured No. 1 overall MLS SuperDraft pick Omar Salgado out of the net.

On the offensive side, the first period saw Fredy Montero working in tandem with Mike Fucito and even working right wing Miguel Montano into the play.  The best opportunity came when Montero fed Montano up the right side and Montano fired a shot at the near post, but it was saved by Vancouver keeper Jay Nolly.

In the second period, the midfield duo of Erik Friberg and Evans caused havoc after they gained their footing.  Combine that with the outside play of Alvaro Fernandez and Estrada and O’Brian White manning the top and it’s no wonder that the second period saw a goal for the Sounders.

“O’Brian showed his strength in the box and whips a good cross there.  David gets the ball caught underneath his feet but then makes a good decision and this is what Brad Evans gives us,” Schmid said, describing the build-up for the goal.  “He’s that midfielder who joins into the box and that was something that was missing a little bit at the end of last year.  I think Brad has that capability.”

White nearly scored earlier in the period when Friberg played a nifty ball to him in the box, but the ball was covered up by Nolly before he could put it away.

The third period also saw some flashes from the young trialists in camp, highlighted by a few shots from Seattle’s top draft pick, Michael Tetteh, who moved up to play left mid and got some shots away.

The Sounders will hold a light training session Saturday morning, then take Super Bowl Sunday off before returning to the training field on Monday.  They face Real Salt Lake at Grande Sports World on Tuesday.

Sounders FC
 - Brad Evans (David Estrada, O’Brian White) 28 of Game Two.
Whitecaps FC - None.

Sounders FC –
Osvaldo Alonso (caution; Reckless Tackle) 22
Whitecaps FC – Gershon Koffie (caution; Reckless Tackle) 33

Sounders FC
Game 1:
Kasey Keller, James Riley, Jeff Parke, Patrick Ianni, Danny Earls,  Miguel Montaño, Osvaldo Alonso, Michael Seamon, Steve Zakuani, Fredy Montero, Mike Fucito.
Game 2: Bryan Meredith, Corey Attaway, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Patrick Ianni (Tyson Wahl 15’), Leo Gonzalez, Alvaro Fernandez, Brad Evans (Servando Carrasco 29’), Erik Friberg, Trialist, David Estrada, O’Brian White.
Game 3: Josh Ford, Roger Levesque, Leone Cruz, Zach Scott, Tyson Wahl, Trialist, Servando Carrasco, Trialist, Michael Tetteh, Trialist, Trialist.

Whitecaps FC
Game 1:
Jay Nolly, Blake Wagner, Bilal Duckett, Greg Janicki, Jonathan Leathers, Russell Teibert, Gershon Koffie, Terry Dunfield, Shea Salinas, Davide Chiumiento, Atiba Harris
Game 2: Jay Nolly, Blake Wagner, Bilal Duckett, Greg Janicki (Michael Boxall 24’), Jonathan Leathers, Russell Teibert (Nizar Khalfan 24’), Gershon Koffie, Terry Dunfield (Lennart Hartmann 19’), Philippe Davies, Davide Chiumiento, Long Tan.
Game 3: Brian Sylvestre, Santiago Bedova, Bilal Duckett (Greg Janicki 12’), Wes Knight, Michael Boxall, Nizar Khalfan, Kyle Porter, Lennart Hartmann (Terry Dunfield29’), Philippe Davies, Omar Salgado, Long Tan (Joe Anderson 12’).