Saturday, April 17, 2010

SOUNDERS FC: Fucito scores in stoppage time to oust Wizards 1-0

Fucito bangs in his first MLS goal during stoppage time to break the scoreless tie. Jane Gershovich / NSS

Michael Fucito only played nine minutes in Saturday’s match against the Western Conference leading Kansas City Wizards. By the end of his short time on the pitch, Fucito was strutting off the field to an ovation from the home crowd after scoring the lone goal in the 92nd minute to lead Seattle to a 1-0 win.

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The game concluded with Fucito raising his hands with the roaring crowd. Seconds later his face appeared on the jumbo-tron with the phrase “Man of the Match” plastered above.

92 minutes of a physical and frustrating game had turned into euphoria for the fans and Fucito.

“I think he’ll be in [that state] for the next 72 hours,” head coach Sigi Schmid said.

The goal came off a Brad Evans throw-in, who led Fucito deep into the box. He took a touch and booted it into the back of the net. There wasn’t any juggling or extra dribbling, just a quick shot to beat the bleach-blonde goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen.

“Sometimes you can die with beauty,” Schmid said. “Oftentimes you can succeed with simplicity.”

Montero takes a set of cleats to his head during an
overly physical game.
Jane Gershovich / NSS

Fucito attributed the goal to his pre-game tape studies.

"I remember from film that on throw-ins you always want someone to stretch" Fucito said. "I saw Brad [Evans] had the ball and I ran through trying to stretch them. He made a great throw right in my path and I was one-on-one with the goalie."

The finish was a welcome change after Seattle’s lead turned into a tie last week against Salt Lake during the waning seconds of stoppage time.

But it wasn’t all smiles prior to the goal. In fact, there was a lot more blood and physicality than anything else. And, as usual, the Sounders were on the receiving end of that physicality.

Seattle was down a man on four separate occasions due to hard collisions.

Both Tyrone Marshall and James Riley were beaten down competing for headers, Marshall in the 15th minute and Riley in the 42nd. Marshall had to be escorted off the field with a towel to slow the blood flow from the gash on his head. He had to come off the pitch again in the second half after his stitches opened back up.

Marshall looks down at his hand to see blood dripping
from a head wound inflicted when he challenged a
Jane Gershovich / NSS

Brad Evans also took a shot in the box in the 80th minute, where he would lay for a few minutes until being helped off the field.

All players would eventually return to the field from their wounds.

Physicality has usually been a recipe for success against the Sounders, and the Wizards definitely took that strategy to heart. It didn’t help that referee Jair Marrufo and his crew weren’t inclined to call many fouls throughout the game.

Despite the rough-and-tumble match, Seattle managed the most cohesive game they have had this season. Still, there is cause for concern with the sometimes shoddy passing and lack of speed on the attacking end.

“Three points is very important,” Schmid said. “It’s more important for me as a coach that our performance is still not where we want it to be. It’s tough to create movement up front if you are giving the ball away all the time.”

Scoring Summary:

SEA -- Michael Fucito 1 (Brad Evans 1) 92+

Kansas City Wizards -- Jimmy Nielsen, Michael Harrington, Jimmy Conrad (Matt Besler 32), Pablo Escobar, Roger Espinoza, Davy Arnaud, Stephane Auvray, Jack Jewsbury, Ryan Smith, Kei Kamara (Chance Myers 89), Josh Wolff (Teal Bunbury 82).

Substitutes Not Used: Birahim Diop, Santiago Hirsig, Craig Rocastle, Eric Kronberg.

TOTAL SHOTS: 9 (Davy Arnaud 2, Pablo Escobar 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 2 (Davy Arnaud 1, Chance Myers 1); FOULS: 12 (Kei Kamara 4); OFFSIDES: 0; CORNER KICKS: 9 (Ryan Smith 8); SAVES: 1 (Jimmy Nielsen 1)

Seattle Sounders -- Kasey Keller, James Riley, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Tyrone Marshall, Leo Gonzalez, Pat Noonan (Brad Evans 70), Osvaldo Alonso, Peter Vagenas, Steve Zakuani (Michael Fucito 85), Freddie Ljungberg (Patrick Ianni 89), Fredy Montero.

Substitutes Not Used: Nathan Sturgis, Tyson Wahl, Sanna Nyassi, Terry Boss.

TOTAL SHOTS: 5 (5 tied with 1); SHOTS ON GOAL: 2 (Fredy Montero 1, Michael Fucito 1); FOULS: 9 (3 tied with 2); OFFSIDES: 3 (3 tied with 1); CORNER KICKS: 2 (Freddie Ljungberg 2); SAVES: 2 (Kasey Keller 2)

Misconduct Summary:
SEA -- James Riley (caution; Reckless Tackle) 29
SEA -- Steve Zakuani (caution; Dissent) 37
KC -- Stephane Auvray (caution; Delaying a Restart) 72
SEA -- Brad Evans (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 90

Referee: Jair Marrufo
Referee's Assistants: -Thomas Supple; Kevin Stott
4th Official: Paul Ward
Attendance: 35,924
Time of Game: 1:53
Weather: Cloudy-and-58-degrees

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