Final: Sounders 2, Union 0.
For the most part, an uneventful second half. Seattle played with a one-up advantage on the pitch, but had to deal with a strong headwind and sheets of rain as an extra defender.
An MLS regular-season franchise record 36,241 show up for the Sounders' home opener tonight.
More to come.
Halftime: 2-zip, home team.
Seattle will get to play the rest of the way with a sizable lead, and an 11-on-10 advantage against the expansion Philadelphia Union at Qwest Field.
Toni Stahl, a Union midfielder, came down on the back of Freddie Ljungberg's legs during a move in the 21st minute, and received his first yellow card. Nineteen minutes later, it was Stahl – an enforcing menace – who not only pushed Fredy Montero in the back, it appears he brought his knee up in the back, too – enough to barrel him over for his second yellow card, and automatic ejection.
The one-player advantage should be welcomed, but not cheered, by the Sounders, who saw a 55-45 split of the action played near the Seattle goal, and keeper Kasey Keller.
Notes: At the outset of halftime, MLS commissioner Don Garber held court in the Qwest press box. He noted, "Great start to our 15th season," MLS commissioner Don Garber said. … Ex-Seattle Pacific coach Cliff McCrath was awarded the "Golden Scarf" before the match started.
1st half, 2-0 Sounders: Man, one of the strangest goals you'll see, but Seattle will take it right before halftime.
Osvaldo Alonso rifled a pass way off target that had so much topspin, it looked like a rubber ball coming off a stone wall. After one high bounce, Fredy Montero stuck his head out there – some 3 feet from the left post – and steered it into the goal in the 43rd minute.
Philadelphia is playing a man down after Toni Stahl received his second yellow card of the half, in the 40th minute.
1st half, 1-0 Sounders: That didn't take long!
And the quick-touch stuff worked beautifully among Steve Zakuani and Fredy Montero, who got the ball to a cutting Brad Evans for an 8-yard shot, and goal in the 12th minute for a 1-0 lead.
It was the first goal given up by Union goalkeeper Chris Seitz in his eighth MLS appearance. He was with Salt Lake in 2009 as a reserve.
Kickoff: It's 6:55 p.m. We're underway.
Pre-game (6 p.m.): Rain is heavier, but so is the fans' screaming on the south end of the stadium.
Don't see any breaks in the clouds. Going to be a wet one here!
Some notes to consider (from Mark Moschetti):
-- Sounders coming off a 12-7-11 season. Won U.S. Open Cup.
-- Sounders won last year’s season opener against New York, 3-0. Fredy Montero 2G, 1A.
-- Lacey's Kasey Keller had three consecutive shutouts in goal to start the season for the Sounders.
-- Seattle 7-2-6 at home last year.
-- Sounders went scoreless in five of the final six home games in 2009.
-- Only Seattle (2009) and Chicago (1998) won their openers as expansion teams.
-- Sounders starters Keller, Marshall, Hurtado, Nyassi, Alonso, Evans and Montero all started the 2009 opener.
-- Sounders went 3-2-1 in preseason, scoring 6 goals and allowing 6. Senna Nyassi had two, Montero 1, Roger Levesque 1. Lamar Neagle had 2, but is no longer with the club.
-- Sigi Schmid starts the season as the all-time winningest MLS coach. He got is 125-93-68, one more win than current U.S. national team coach Bob Bradley.
-- Union likely to start Sebastien Le Toux, whom they took from Sounders in expansion draft. Le Toux was first player signed by Sounders.
Pre-game (5:45 p.m.): Pinch-hitting for the Babe Ruth of MLS beat writers – Don Ruiz, who is on assignment with the Washington Huskies men's basketball team in New York – I must admit, I'm a little bit out of my element tonight as the Sounders open here at Qwest Field for season No. 2.
I've been telling friends and family all week that I know it's KILLING Ruiz that he can't be here for this. If there was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to jump in a time capsule and be at two places in a matter of seconds, believe me, he'd be here (battling a stern cough and all).
Well, folks … you're stuck with me for the 2010 opener.
Right now, we're a short time before the start. Overcast with an occasional spat of raindrops. Fans are starting to settle in. Traffic in and around the stadium has been difficult; took me 90 minutes to get in my seat from Tacoma.
I think the last time I saw the Sounders in person was in 1995. I did staff the beat when they were members of the A-League, and won the first of back-to-back championship. Peter Hattrup was the league MVP. Marcus Hahnemann was a stud goalkeeper (and we all know what he's done since then).
I will give updates – scoring, halftime and end-of-game stuff. It maybe won't be as fluid as Ruiz does, but I'll give it my best All-American effort.