It's gone final: SKC 3, Sounders 2. Seattle goes to 1-1 in the Desert Diamond Cup, and will return to action Wednesday against New England.
Here was coach Sigi Schmid's opening statement afterward:
"It went all right. The first half is on my shoulders because I brought our team out tonight in a 3-5-2. We trained on it a little bit (Friday). We haven’t really worked on it all that much. I wanted to see how we would do playing in that system. I actually thought we played OK. The goals we took were really mistakes more than anything else. Zack missed the ball on the one, and we fell asleep on the set piece. On their second goal, I didn’t think we were alert enough right at the beginning of the play. At halftime we switched back to a 4-4-2: Obviously it’s a system we’re come comfortable in, and I thought we played better. But we had chances in the first half too. Clint had a really good chance. If he buries that chance, then the game changes a little bit. And I was happy with what the young guys did when they came in."
And here's what homegrown Victor Mandaray had to say after his goal:
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“It feels good,” he said. “I was just trying to make an impact, just like the coach told me.”
81: Two minutes after hitting the far post, Kenny Cooper converts, cutting SKC lead to 3-2.
Second half: Massive substitutions by both sides between the 60th and 70th minutes. Then a couple of rookies score: James Rogers for SKC, and Victor Mansaray for Seattle.
Halftime: SKC 2, Sounders 0. The point is reinforced: Subtracting Chivas and adding SKC and Houston is gonna make for a mighty muscular Western Conference.
39' SKC makes it 2-0, with Nemeth finishing. Frei made first good save, but Sounders couldn't clear it out.
34' GOAL SKC. Ball drops in over Scott to Zusi, who finishes inside far post. SKC 1-0.
First 30 minutes: Scoreless. But Seattle dominating last 15 minutes or so ... including best chance of the game to Dempsey, who knocked it over the bar.
First 15 minutes: Scoreless. SKC's Dom Dwyer put one on goal that Frei went down to handle cleanly. No real chances beyond that.
First kick: ... has been struck. We're under way. Fair breeze here, and it will be at Sounders' back this half.
Lineup: Interesting Sounders first 11: Frei; Gonzalez, Evans, Marshall, Scott, Mears; Pineda, Azira, Pappa; Neagle, Dempsey.
Nothing injury-related we're told. (Although Oba apparently resting "heavy legs.") Just Sigi experimenting, apparently. We'll get his take after the match.
Pregame: The Sounders will meet Sporting Kansas City at 7 PT this evening in the second round of the Desert Diamond Cup in Tucson.
The infrastructure here has changed since Seattle won the 2013 tournament. The minor league baseball stadium is no longer being used, while the larger soccer stadium shown atop these pictures has been created. That's the stadium the Sounders will play at tonight.
We'll have updates before, during and after the match.
In the other games tonight, New England and Colorado are playing at the stadium, while Real Salt Lake and Tucson FC are meeting at the grandstand field.