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Sunday, September 7, 1997 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Soccer -- Sounders Advance To Divisional Finals

Special To The Seattle Times

The hunch paid off.

Seattle Sounders Coach Neil Megson listened to a bit of advice from old friend Brian Quinn, head coach of Major League Soccer's San Jose Clash. And it paid off last night, vaulting the Sounders into the Pacific Division finals.

Quinn suggested that Seattle sign Vicente Figueroa, a 20-year-old winger who had trained with the Clash since preseason. The Sounders did on Aug. 14 - one day before the A-League roster freeze.

Figueroa, playing in just his seventh match, scored his first goal at Seattle Memorial Stadium in the 70th minute to lead the Sounders to a 2-0 victory over the Colorado Foxes.

Figueroa received a caution immediately after his goal for excessive celebration and taunting.

Esmundo Rodriguez, another 20-year-old who came to Seattle via the Clash, shook his bad luck, scoring an unassisted goal in the final minute. Rodriguez missed the flight to Colorado for Thursday's game, a 3-0 Seattle victory, and was playing with a broken left wrist suffered in practice at San Jose.

Rodriguez's goal was his second since he started dividing his season between Seattle and its MLS affiliate.

Seattle goalkeeper Dusty Hudock earned his league-leading 17th shutout as the Sounders outshot the Foxes 24-13 and swept the first-round series before a season-best crowd of 6,927.

The Sounders advance to the divisional finals, where they will play the winner of the California-Vancouver series. Vancouver leads 1-0.

If Vancouver wins today, Seattle has home-field advantage for the best-of-three set and likely will open it Friday in Vancouver with the finale Sunday at home.

If California wins the series, it will have home-field advantage. The series likely would start in Seattle on Wednesday or Thursday with the Jaguars hosting Saturday's finale.

NOTE

-- If the divisional series is tied 1-1, the teams will play a mini-playoff immediately after the second game.

-- Colorado defender Ray Tomlin was ejected in the last minute

of last night's game.

Copyright (c) 1997 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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