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Progress In Defeat

Despite falling 2-0 to FC Dallas, the Sounders FC took steps forward in their first match in Florida.

Orlando, Fla. - The Sounders FC played their first game of the Florida leg of the preseason training camp on Monday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando.

While they got their first preseason looks at Blaise Nkufo, Pat Noonan and Taylor Graham, FC Dallas took advantage of their two best opportunities and came out with the 2-0 victory.

Even in defeat, though, head coach Sigi Schmid was happy with the team’s progress.

“I thought they did well,” Schmid said.  “Our soccer definitely has taken a step forward from Arizona.”

The Sounders controlled most of the possession throughout the game and had some strong opportunities, but could not get on the scoreboard.

Mike Fucito had an early shot pushed over the crossbar by Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman and Leone Cruz had a second-half header cleared off the line by defender Moises Hernandez.  Miguel Montano also had a late shot in the second half that Chris Seitz parried over the crossbar.

All the while, Dallas got goals from Marvin Chavez and Brek Shea to earn the victory.

Chavez received a cross from Shea in the 21st minute, knocking it in at the far post for a 1-0 lead.

Then in the 27th minute, Shea made it 2-0 with a great header off a ball from David Ferreira.  The 2010 MLS MVP sent the ball in from the right side and Shea came tearing through the middle to head it into the net for the goal.

“We had some good chances, but that final touch we need to put away,” Graham said.  “We’re working on it though.  It’s preseason.  It’s coming.”

Schmid agreed that the possession of the ball has improved, but the finishing touches fell short.

“I thought we did a better job of holding the ball and a better job of knocking the ball around,” Schmid said.  “I think the quality on our final balls has to be better, but I think we competed and some of our guys stepped up.”

With Graham, Noonan and Nkufo all making extended appearances for the first time this preseason, it extended the bench and showed Schmid that his final roster decisions won’t be made easily.

Nkufo and Graham both returned from calf strains that limited them in earlier portions of training camp, while Noonan was back from hip surgery that had him on the shelf for the final few months of the 2010 season.

“It was good to be out there,” said Noonan, the eight-year MLS veteran.  “I’m a little rusty and I have some things to work on, but overall it’s good to play in a competitive atmosphere like that for the first time in five or six months.”

The Sounders will face the Houston Dynamo Tuesday morning at 11 am Eastern (8 am Pacific) at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex before returning to their base camp in Bradenton.  There will be a live blog of the match at http://sndrs.com/fl02.

Scoring Summary
Sounders FC -
FC Dallas - Marvin Chavez (Brek Shea) 21; Brek Shea (David Ferreira) 27.

Sounders FC -
Danny Earls (caution) 26; Servando Carrasco (caution) 33; Michael Tetteh (caution) 70.
FC Dallas - Jackson (caution) 19; Andrew Jacobson (ejection) 75.
Sounders FC -
Terry Boss (Bryan Meredith 46), Richard Martinez (Roger Levesque 46), Zach Scott (Taylor Graham 64), Tyson Wahl (Leone Cruz 64), Danny Earls (Michael Tetteh 46), David Estrada (Pat Noonan 64), Servando Carrasco (Osvaldo Alonso 64), Brad Evans (Mike Seamon 30), Lamar Neagle (Jonathan Prieto 64), Blaise Nkufo (Miguel Montaño 46), Mike Fucito (Fredy Montero 64).
FC Dallas - Kevin Hartman (Chris Seitz 46), Jair Benitez (Moises Hernandez 46), Alexis Pradie (Scott Gordon 58), Zach Loyd, Jackson (Andrew Wiedeman 65), Daniel Hernandez (Bobby Warshaw 46), Eric Alexander (Andrew Jacobson 46), David Ferreira (Maykel Galindo 46), Brek Shea (Paul Ogunyemi 67), Marvin Chavez (Eric Avila 59), Ruben Luna (Milton Rodriguez 46, Bruno Guarda 75).