For Seattle Sounders FC it was a historic night, as around 600 attended the club's first-ever match before a live audience. For the Ventura County Fusion, it was a night of frustration. The Fusion had an unbeaten streak against MLS sides, which ended dramatically as the Sounders defeated the Fusion in a preseason match by a score of 6-1.
In the crowd, the number of Sounders fans could be counted on one hand. Indeed, there were more Real Salt Lake scouting personnel than Sounders fans. Conversely, the Sounders organization easily brought 100 people to the event if you include their large trial roster, trainers, media, and other personnel.
The scoring started off early when Fredy Montero, the former goal-scoring monster of the Colombian league, sent a shot in from 17 yards only seven minutes into the game. Moments earlier on a free kick, Montero had sent a free kick toward goal only to have it bounce out of bounds.
Only two minutes later Steve Zakuani scored to make it 2-0 Sounders. Zakuani took a shot at about the same distance from the goal as Montero's shot.
The Ventura Fusion were able to keep the game in hand when forward Arthur Aghasyan, formerly of an Armenian club team in Los Angeles, broke through on the right side and sent a tricky low ball in. For a moment there was a game to be played.
Then a long ball bounced in to Nate Jaqua and was quickly passed over to Zakuani. "Zak," the former University of Akron forward, scored his second goal of the night on that pass at the 21-minute mark.
Zakuani returned the favor 20 minutes later when he headed a pass from Montero toward Jaqua, who made the shot. 4-1 Sounders, the Ventura County Fusion were stunned, as this side was used to close fought matches with MLS sides. The game had become a blowout. Only a minute later Nate Jaqua showed why he is still one of the most dangerous offensive players in the MLS with yet another goal.
No stoppage time was allowed in this exhibition and the first-half ended abruptly with a half-time score of Seattle 5, Ventura 1.
During halftime Sigi Schmid, the manager of the Sounders, had a quick meeting with his players and asked them to focus more on defense and passing. The few times the Sounders had the ball up close they often tapped shots toward Fusion keeper Trevor Styles, who pounced on it.
As a result the second half was not a fireworks show, partly because the Sounders decided to play more defensive and partly because the Fusion worked to tighten their defense.
The Fusion failed to have any serious scoring opportunities in the second half, though they took some shots from outside that sailed through the upright field goalposts behind the net, reminding everyone that the match was taking place at a high school football stadium.
The match had a few other surreal moments as well. Two Sounders players both wore the number "38" in the game. Also in the second half it appeared nocturnal bats were nearly dive-bombing the field. Though, the only real bomb of the second half came when Roger Levesque got a good pass and decided to lob the ball in for a score of 6-1 after 83 minutes.
The ball sailed into the net and Levesque, previously with the USL First Division incarnation of the Sounders, showed why he is MLS material. The post-goal celebration after this one was a bit longer than the others and the young team appeared to finally be realizing their full potential.
Brian Schmetzer, assistant coach for the Sounders, had this comment on the effect of a big win on his young team: "The problem is you don't want them thinking they are too good, too early." Mr. Schmetzer also said that this big win will have a positive effect on the younger players. "It makes them realize, hey we can do this!"
This is of course the purpose of the California tour. These barnstorming exhibitions up and down the California coast have developed chemistry amongst the young guys and have helped build a team which will be a serious contender for the MLS Cup in its first season.
31' SEA: Wahl cautioned
"Hope you like my photo!" Joe Nixon covered this match on the behalf of Emerald City Supporters and the PlayerPress