October 18, 2009 in Sports

Expansion Sounders clinch playoff

Win over Wizards gives club rare feat in MLS
Associated Press
Associated Press photo

Wizards goalkeeper Kevin Hartman, right, and defender Matt Besler battle with Sounders FC forward Nate Jaqua in the first half.
(Full-size photo)

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Seattle Sounders FC became only the second expansion team to make the MLS playoffs in its first year, clinching a postseason berth with a 3-2 victory over the Kansas City Wizards on Saturday night.

Nate Jacqua capped a high-scoring second half with a 76th-minute goal for Seattle (11-7-11), which joins the 1998 Chicago Fire as the only expansion teams to advance to the postseason in their first season.

The Sounders will have to go all the way to match Chicago’s first-season accomplishments. The Fire won the MLS Cup that year.

Zoltan Hercegfalvi and Josh Wolff scored 3 minutes apart early in the second half for Kansas City (8-13-8), putting the Wizards up 2-1. Seattle’s Roger Levesque tied it with a header in the 69th minute and Jacqua scored the winner 8 minutes later.

Freddie Ljungberg drove almost to the end line in the Wizards’ penalty area, then crossed to Jaqua for an easy tap-in from point-blank range. It was the second assist of the night for Ljungberg, who also started the sequence that led to Seattle’s first goal.

Even before the loss, Kansas City was eliminated from playoff contention when Toronto FC beat Real Salt Lake 1-0 earlier Saturday.

Tyrone Marshall had a goal and an assist for Seattle. He scored on a putback from close range in the 28th minute, after Wizards keeper Kevin Hartman made a diving save on Ljungberg’s bending corner kick. Then, in the second half, Marshall nodded on another of Ljungberg’s corners to set up Levesque’s equalizer.

Hercegfalvi, making his first MLS start, scored off an assist from Michael Harrington in the 51st minute. Wolff made it 2-1 in the 54th, on a tap-in of Davy Arnaud’s cross. It was Wolff’s career-high 11th goal of the season.

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