SEATTLE - The Union's Major League Soccer debut last night went down in a sea of green. Green-clad fans filled Qwest Field, but the bigger obstacle was the opponent in green that gave the Union the blues.
Beginning their second season in the same fashion as their first, the Seattle Sounders scored a 2-0 win over the Union in the Philadelphia franchise's opening game. It also was the first game of the MLS season.
This one was decided in the first half, when the Sounders jumped to a 2-0 lead.
The Sounders defeated New York in their first game last year en route to a 12-7-11 season that included a playoff berth. Once again they are beginning a season on the upswing.
Meanwhile, the Union were trying to become the third MLS expansion team to open its season with a victory.
The physical tone of the first half was set early when Union defender Danny Califf received a yellow card for unsporting behavior in the first minute.
It was one of three cautions in the first half for the Union. They had five yellow cards in the game.
"Defensively, we were too light and were letting guys run by us," Califf said.
The Union had the first good scoring chance when midfielder Michael Orosco sent a blast that 40-year-old goalie Kasey Keller tipped over the crossbar in the sixth minute.
Seattle scored the first goal of the MLS season in the 12th minute when dangerous Fredy Montero fed Steve Zakuani, who found an unmarked Brad Evans eight yards from the goal. Evans one-timed it past goalkeeper Chris Seitz, and the sellout crowd of 36,241 mostly green-clad fans exploded.
It would not be the last time that the Union would hear from Montero, a 22-year-old Colombian who scored 12 goals last season.
Seattle kept applying the pressure until Union forward Sebastien Le Toux, a Sounder himself last season, broke free from a defender, spun around, and shot at an angle right at Keller in the 18th minute.
Union defender Toni Stahl, not using a lot of finesse, received a yellow card for unsporting behavior in the 23d minute. It would be a sign of worse things to come for the Union.
Montero kept applying the heat on the Union, shooting wide on a blast in the 27th minute and a few minutes later kicking it right at Seitz from about nine yards out.
The game turned for the worse for the Union in the 41st minute when Stahl received his second yellow card and subsequent red card for a reckless foul on Montero. Stahl had leveled the Sounders forward.
That gave the Sounders a man advantage, and they quickly took advantage of the situation.
A few minutes later, Montero showed he had recovered from the shot he took from Stahl.
In the 43d minute, Montero delivered the first highlight-film goal of the season. He scored on a diving header at the near post on a feed from Osvaldo Alonso.
"All goals are to be scored and celebrated, so hopefully this is the beginning of a good season," Montero said. "I will score with my head and left leg, whatever it is."
The Union didn't seem to have their same fight in the second half, which is what playing a man down against a skilled squad will do to a team.
"Once we went a man down, we obviously were not going to attack as much and counterattack," Seitz said. "To our credit, we held them to few chances with a man down."
Last night's game ended too late for this edition. For coverage, go to http:/go.philly.com/sportsEndText
Union 0 0–0
Seattle FC 2 0–2
First half: 1, Seattle FC, Evans 1 (Zakuani, Montero), 12th minute. 2, Seattle FC, Montero 1 (Alonso), 43rd.
Second half: None.
Goalies: uniona, Chris Seitz; Seattle FC, Kasey Keller.
Yellow cards: Califf, Philadelphia, 1st; Alonso, Seattle FC, 15th; Stahl, Philadelphia, 24th; Myrie, Philadelphia, 63rd; Moreno, Philadelphia, 87th.
Red cards: Stahl, Philadelphia, 40th.
Referee: Ricardo Salazar. Assistant Referees: Corey Rockwell. Peter Manikowski. 4th Official: Paul Ward.
Attendance; 36,241 (32,400)
UNION: Chris Seitz, Dave Myrie (Jack McInerney, 78th), Jordan Harvey, Danny Califf, Michael Orozco, Roger Torres (Amobi Okugo, 71st), Toni Stahl, Andrew Jacobson, Danny Mwanga (Stefani Miglioranzi, 46th), Alejandro Moreno, Sebastien Le Toux.