When the Calgary Storm’s inaugural season in the A-League began, fans were cautioned that this first year would be a learning experience. Today’s result was evidence that the prediction was true. The Seattle Sounders showed the Storm and their 1754 fans why they are one of the elite teams at this level by defeating them 4-1 at Foothills Park.
The first decent scoring chance occurred in the 14th minute when Seattle had a free kick just outside the top of Calgary’s penalty area. Sounder Andrew Gregor squandered this opportunity by lofting the ball far over the bar. A couple of minutes later, Storm captain Mark McKenna also had a free kick attempt, but the shot went wide left. Gregor had another good chance for the Sounders in the 20th when he slipped past the Calgary defenders, but Mike Pavicic was able to recover enough to stop the play.
The scoring began in the 21st minute. Play started with a Sounders corner kick. A difficult cross was tipped away by Storm ‘keeper Jamie Glasnovic to the waiting Darren Sawatzky, who buried the rebound into the top corner.
Seattle doubled their lead in the 35th minute when Sounder captain Leighton O’Brien received a good through ball and chipped it over a stranded Glasnovic.
With time winding down in the half, Storm fans were given hope when Jamie Auvigne sent a perfect ball across to Peter Heidler, who nailed the one-timer past Preston Burpo.
A key moment in the game occurred early in the second half. In the 51st minute, Storm defender Nick Ledgerwood was clearly brought down inside the penalty area to the right of the goal. However, the referee did not make the call and allowed play to continue.
Two minutes later, the Storm had an excellent scoring opportunity slip away when an open Felix Napuri received a cross into the box but fanned on the shot.
In the 57th minute, the Storm was caught in the offensive zone while Sawatzky and Kyle Smith led the counterattack. Calgary defender Mike Pavicic forced Sawatzky to the right of the penalty area. Instead of taking the shot, he crossed the ball to a wide-open Smith in front of the net who volleyed it home. The scoring was completed in the 64th minute by Sawatzky after receiving a pass from O’Brien. The speedy veteran made the Storm defense appear to be standing still on a few occasions.
The Storm’s last good scoring chance came in the 69th minute when Auvigne took a shot after a long run through the Seattle defense, but the ball went just wide to the right of the net. A rushing Chris Lemire did not arrive in time for the tap in.
The match ended with an impressive 4-1 result for the Sounders. Seattle didn’t have that many chances, but took advantage of the ones that were available. They also showed a lot of composure and experience.
The Sounders record continues to be unblemished at 6-0-0. They lead the Pacific Division with a whopping 27 points. Calgary sits fourth in the division with 5 points.
The Storm also had some issues off the pitch this week when four players were released for “disciplinary reasons” according to coach Thomas Niendorf. He did not elaborate on the situation, but did say there was a disagreement. “It’s difficult bringing players from a recreational level to the pro level,” Niendorf remarked. “It requires an increased level of commitment.”
Among the released were regular starters Steffen Holdt and Eric Munoz, along with Mark Slade and Brian Newmarch.
The Storm will begin a three game road trip which takes them to Minnesota (June 1), Milwaukee (June 2), and Portland (June 6). Their next home game on Saturday, June 8 when the Sounders return to Foothills Park.
Seattle: Burpo, Jenkins, Edwards, Barton, Daligcon, Kigsley (Brown 64), O’Brien (captain), Nguyen, Smith (Tomlinson 59, Scott 75), Sawatzky
Calgary: Glasnovic, Ledgerwood, Pavicic, DeSilva, Auvigne, Heidler, Jesic (Chala 88), McKenna (captain), Bosch (Zuniga 63), Napuri, Lemire
Seattle: Sawatzky (21st and 64th), O’Brien (35th), Smith (57th)
Calgary: Heidler (45th)
Seattle: O’Brien (47th), Brown (88th)
Calgary: Ledgerwood (34th), Lemire (44th), Jesic (59th)
Weather: mostly sunny 15C (60F)
STORM WARNINGS: Storm goalkeeper Lars Hirschfeld sat on the bench because of illness. He did not train during the week, so the start went to Jamie Glasnovic.....With the release of the four players, Calgary only dressed 15 men for the game. No new signings have been announced, but coach Thomas Niendorf mentioned he is looking at bringing up some players from the Storm’s PDL side.....Jamie Auvigne looked solid in his A-League debut. The defender missed the first four games of the season with an injury.....The Calgary Storm Prospects of the PDL won their home opener today by blanking the Spokane Shadow 1-0.