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Originally published February 9, 2009 at 6:45 PM | Page modified February 10, 2009 at 11:43 AM

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Sounders FC beats Galaxy in exhibition

Sounders FC played its first-ever game against an opposing team, making history with its 3-1 exhibition opener win over the Los Angeles Galaxy in Monday afternoon in inclement weather conditions.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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CARSON, Calif. — The field was muddy and slick. The weather was biting cold, especially for Southern California. Only the two teams, Seattle Sounders FC and the Los Angeles Galaxy, plus their staffs and a handful of onlookers witnessed Monday's exhibition match.

None of it mattered much to Sounders FC. The expansion Major League Soccer franchise made history with its first game against an actual opponent, and made it an afternoon to remember with a 3-1 victory over the Galaxy on a small, fenced-off practice field in the shadow of the glimmering stadium Los Angeles calls home, the Home Depot Center.

Forwards Fredy Montero and Roger Levesque and midfielder Sanna Nyassi scored goals, and Nyassi and forward Ryan Pore had an assist each to lead Seattle, which debuted in its rave green jerseys with white numbers on the back.

"Preseason is preseason, so I don't lay too much stock in the results," Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said, "but it's always good to win rather than lose any time you play, and it's a habit that you start building within the team."

Monday's game meant something to Sounders FC. Majority owner Joe Roth and minority partner representative Tod Leiweke watched from the sideline. When the final whistle blew, there were handshakes all around for the executives, including general manager Adrian Hanauer and technical director Chris Henderson.

It didn't start so well. The game wasn't even three minutes old when Eddie Lewis took a crossing pass and fired a shot past Sounders FC goalkeeper Kasey Keller to open the scoring.

But Seattle just needed some time to find footing in the mud, and its team speed shined through. As the first half wore on, Sounders FC's attack improved.

Rookie Steve Zakuani was hard to contain, and in the 31st minute of the first half he got around Galaxy defender A.J. Delagarza, who took Zakuani down in the goal box for a penalty kick. Montero converted the free kick to tie the score, the first goal in Sounders FC history.

"I made myself available, picked the ball up and just went around the guy. I think he slipped and used his arm to pull me back a little bit and I lost my footing a little bit," Zakuani said.

At halftime, both the Galaxy and Sounders FC brought in a fresh group of 11 new players. Los Angeles dominated offensive play early in the second half, but Seattle took control in the later minutes. Rookie defender Evan Brown controlled a cleared corner kick and lined a long pass to the front for Nyassi, who dribbled and crossed to Levesque for a goal and a 2-1 lead in the 80th minute.

Sounders FC finished up with a goal in extra time, as Nyassi converted off a good run and pass from Ryan Pore in the 91st minute.

"Apart from the first five minutes, I think we ... were the better team," said Zakuani, the team's first draft pick in the MLS SuperDraft last month. "It felt good to play against a different set of players, kick past other guys, run past other guys and score against other people. It was good and it meant a lot."

José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or jromero@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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