The Seattle Sounders fielded a mostly first choice lineup with a few notable exceptions. Obafemi Martins and Kenny Cooper played together up top; Marco Pappa started at RMF and Lamar Neagle started on the left; Andy Rose and Osvaldo Alonso held down the middle of the pitch; Brad Evans played at RB and Dylan Remick played at LB; Chad Marshall and Jalil Anibaba were the CBs; and Marcus Hahnemann was in goal. DeAndre Yedlin was held out of the lineup as a precaution due to the ankle sprain he picked up earlier in the week and Leo Gonzalez is still rounding out his fitness after off-season surgery.
The Charleston Battery featured a 4-5-1 and spent most of the game looking to maintain their defensive shape and counterattacking when opportunities presented themselves. This makes sense when you consider that they have just begun their preseason because they've only been training for about a week.
Sounders trialist Michael Azira was playing for the Battery for this game, as that who still owns his contract. Since Azira was not going to play with the Sounders first team, allowing him to play for the Battery allowed the Sounders to see how he faired against an MLS opponent. And quite frankly, he did reasonably well. Even though he had yet to play this season with his Battery teammates, he was their most dangerous player for long stretches of the game and worked himself into good offensive opportunities, particularly in the first half.
The 5-man midfield clogged the offensive third for the Sounders and forced them to get creative in attempting to break down the Battery. Both Alonso and Rose did an excellent job creating turnovers and for most of the game limited the Battery to short periods of possession. But the Sounders struggled to break through the area at the top of the 18. The most encouraging aspect of the Sounders' attempts to break through was the variety of approaches and weapons they attempted to deploy. Martins, Cooper, Pappa and Neagle all took turns coming back for the ball. The Sounders unleashed a number of short and long passes along the ground as well as a mixture of short and long balls over the top. Both Evans and Remick made overlapping runs. Marco Pappa had a number of great passes and the Sounders had a few early chances though nothing solid.
The Sounders finally broke through about 30 minutes into the game after a free kick near the left side line. Neagle took the free kick and drove it across the top of the scrum in front of the net. The ball caromed across the pitch where Pappa immediately sent in another cross. This cross was deflected out to the top of the 18 where Ozzie unleashed a wicked shot off the first bounce and sent it into the top of the net. There was nothing Charleston's Cuban keeper could do but pick the ball out of the back of the net.
Unfortunately, Charleston was able to even the score 3 minutes later after their own free kick. The free kick was taken from just inside the Seattle half of the pitch and had a low trajectory into the box and Seattle was not able to clear the danger. The ball fell right to the feet of the Battery's Irish captain 8 yards out and he slotted it past Marcus.
Cooper saw more of the ball in the second half and the offense began to show more coordination. Rose dropped a beautiful ball over the top to Oba who was jostled at the last minute to earn a corner. Remick made a nice run but ended up putting his shot into the side netting. Cooper had a couple of late looks on goal including one shot that the keeper had to stop on the doorstep right before the feed cut out. Neagle and Pappa showed some flair and things opened up a bit.
Seattle's only substitutions today were Sean Okoli and Cam Weaver who replaced Pappa and Neagle respectively in the last 20 minutes of the game. Okoli had a couple of solid offensive efforts and his last effort drew the penalty that won the game.
Today's game was a good challenge for the Sounders. They faced a bunkering team with a decent counter attack and they had to overcome that adversity to stay undefeated in the preseason. There is still work to be done learning each other's tendencies and improving the team's timing. But that's what preseason is for. Most of the first team was able to extend themselves out to 90 minutes and the team's energy was good. Andy Rose and Dylan Remick continued their strong preseason form. Oba looks hungry. Marco Pappa has an arsenal of passes and dead ball strikes. Chad Marshall is a beast in the air and Brad Evans looked comfortable at RB. Michael Azira even had a good game playing for the opposition. Not a bad preseason outing.