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Tuesday, September 14, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.

Sounders
Farrell seeks title in finale

By Matt Massey
Special to The Seattle Times

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Jason Farrell can rest in retirement, confident in what he accomplished as a professional soccer player. He constantly gave effort and was rewarded.

But before Seattle's current favorite soccer son hangs up his cleats, the 33-year-old Farrell would like nothing more than to go out on top.

Farrell, the 11th-year pro and seventh-year Sounder, began his career in Seattle in 1994 and helped the club win A-League championships in 1995 and '96.

Farrell, the team's hard-working midfielder, will be a key contributor on three A-League titles if the Sounders can beat the Montreal Impact at 4 p.m. Saturday at Claude Robillard Stadium.

Win or lose, the team captain says this will be his final match as a pro.

"There's no better way to go out than with a championship," said Farrell, a 1989 graduate of Shorecrest High School and 1992 grad of Seattle Pacific. "I'm fortunate to have been on championship teams. Not everybody gets to play for one. I don't take this lightly.

"I appreciate what we've done as players. A team shouldn't be satisfied just making the final. I never take winning for granted."

Saturday

Sounders @ Montreal, 4 p.m., Fox Sports World for A-League championship

Fittingly, it was a determined Farrell who scored a goal to push Seattle into the final.

Farrell's 18-yard blast into the upper right corner of the net in the 44th minute Sunday night propelled the Sounders past the Vancouver Whitecaps and into the championship match. Farrell's goal pulled Seattle into a 1-1 tie in the match and it earned a 2-1 aggregate series victory in the Western Conference finals.

In Farrell's estimation, the goal rates right up there with his all-time best.

"There were a lot of people in the box and there was a (defender) on the post still," Farrell said. "It had to be a little bit lucky, because it had to be high enough so it wouldn't hit someone's head and still go in.

"It was top shelf, right where Grandma keeps the cookies."

Farrell provided the Sounders a meaningful goal when they turned back the Atlanta Ruckus to win the 1995 league championship. He tied Game 3 of the best-of-three title series at 1-1 with a goal in the 81st minute, and the Sounders took the title in a shootout.

"Sunday's goal was right up there with the goal I scored in '95," said Farrell, who also had an assist during the '96 title run. "Both goals were good, quality goals and kept us alive. Then, there's the first (MLS) goal in my first game for Columbus in May of 1997 against D.C. United."

Farrell played for the Columbus Crew of MLS from 1997-2000 before returning to the Sounders in 2001.

Farrell, the oldest Sounder, also won a National Professional Soccer League (NPSL) indoor title with the Kansas City Attack in 1997.

"Before the season, I told my family and close friends that this was going to be it," he said. "I've done everything I wanted to do as far as playing. I've been fortunate to win a championship, play in MLS for four years and play at home in front of my family. I've been extremely lucky."

Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer will no doubt miss Farrell's no-nonsense attitude, professional approach and quiet leadership.

"He just has a lot of character," Schmetzer said of his former teammate. "He won't shy away from blame. He takes responsibility for his actions. He's always working hard."

Farrell finished the 2003 playoffs by playing with a stress fracture in his foot. This year, he played the last half of the season with an unhealed sprained ankle.

"I know I can still play physically," he said. "Until the injury this season, I felt great. The biggest thing is I want to go into coaching. I was kind of holding out hope that an MLS team would come here next year, but it looks like 2006."

Farrell wants to keep coaching youth girls soccer. He currently coaches U-12 and U-15 teams for Emerald City F.C.

The A-League championship will be televised on Fox Sports World.

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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