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In their opening game of the 2014 Carolina Challenge Cup, the Sounders faced the hometown Charleston Battery in a match that can only be described as … blurry. Not exactly an HD live stream on preseason MLS matches. Oh, and then the stream went out entirely with 15 minutes to go.
Still the Sounders came away with a perfectly acceptable 2-1 victory against a Battery team in their first week of training. The winning score came on a Brad Evans penalty kick, awarded when homegrown forward Sean Okoli was brought down in the box in the 88th minute.
It was a homecoming of sorts for both Lamar Neagle, who spent parts of 2010 with the USL second division club, and still-fan-favorite Osvaldo Alonso, who was team MVP in his 2008 season there.
The Seattle starting lineup was nearly full strength, with a few subtractions: Brad Evans started the match at RB in place of a hobbled DeAndre Yedlin; Dylan Remick continued his strong preseason at LB, in place of Leo Gonzalez, who’s still recovering from a groin injury; and of course Clint Dempsey is still trapped in the hellish quagmire that is his interminable loan to Fulham.
Sounders starting 11:
GK: Marcus Hahnemann
DEF: Brad Evans, Jalil Anibaba, Chad Marshall, Dylan Remick;
MID: Marco Pappa, Andy Rose, Osvaldo Alonso,
FW: Lamar Neagle, Obafemi Martins, Kenny Cooper.
A few highlights and lowlights:
• Alonso hit a screaming long-distance goal to open the scoring in the first half.
• Set piece defense continues to be a bit of an issue, with the Battery quickly drawing even moments after Alonso’s goal.
• Marco Pappa looked great on the right side of the midfield. He was heavily involved, and crossed and passed well all game. Solid creative performance.
• Sounders trialist Michael Azira was on a loan of sorts, as the Ugandan midfielder got the start for the Battery. It’s looking increasingly likely that he’s a legit contender for a roster spot at the end of camp.
• Marcus Hahnemann sure likes to charge balls at the top of the box. It’s stressful. Gotta wonder if Stefan Frei will inch ahead in the competition to start.