for this game

Expansion Sounders headed to playoffs

Oct 18, 2009 - 4:12 AM By STEVE BRISENDINE STATS MLS Correspondent

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (STATS) - The Seattle Sounders might be the first MLS expansion team in 11 years to make the playoffs in its inaugural season, but they still have a long way to go to match the achievements of the league's most successful expansion club.

With Saturday night's 3-2 comeback victory over the Kansas City Wizards, Seattle joined the 1998 Chicago Fire on the short list of teams that kept playing after their first regular season.

Chicago won the MLS Cup that year - but Sigi Schmid, who is the first coach to take three teams to the playoffs and won titles with the first two, said even making the postseason is more difficult now.

"The scenario is a lot different than when Chicago did it," said Schmid, who led Columbus to last year's championship and also coached the Los Angeles Galaxy to the Cup in 2002. "The league was a lot younger then. I'm proud of our team, I'm proud of what we've done all season, but I still think we can play better soccer."

Nate Jaqua capped a high-scoring second half with a 76th-minute goal to give Seattle (11-7-11) its postseason-clinching win. It was a shot of redemption for Jaqua, who hit the crossbar in the first half.

"I felt like if I got another chance, I was going to put it in," he said.

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

Freddie Ljungberg drove almost to the endline 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.

"The goal was a tremendous effort by Freddie Ljungberg," Schmid said. "The work he did down the line, getting along the end line, beating two players and getting the ball to Nate, that was tremendous soccer."

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

"We played OK tonight," Wolff said. "We created several chances, we converted a couple - but on the flip side, we gave away a couple of really bad goals. We can't have that happen."

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 on 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 11th goal of the season, a career high.