Sanna Nyassi of the Seattle Sounders made history with two goals in the 2010 US Open Cup final. Photo by Rick Morrison
Sanna Nyassi became the first player in the Professional Era (1995-present) to score twice in the US Open Cup Final as the Seattle Sounders FC retained the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, defeating the Columbus Crew 2-1 in front of 31,311, the largest crowd to ever witness a US Open Cup final. With that win, the Sounders became the first team to repeat as champions since the New York Pancyprian Freedoms accomplished the feat in 1982-83.
Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid dispensed with Leo Gonzalez entirely to allow Sanna Nyassi to start, and remain within the allocation of foreigners. Meanwhile, his Crew counterpart Robert Warzycha selected Andy Gruenebaum in goal rather than Will Hesmer, opting for the keeper who had performed so well in getting them to this final. Other than that, it was the same outfield ten that played in their last MLS game. Blaise Nkufo was preferred over Nate Jaqua.
Montero had a gilt edge chance as early as the 2nd minute. James Riley swung in a cross from the right, but Montero mistimed his jump and headed into Gruenebaum’s arms. An early indication of one of the key battles came when Emmanuel Ekpo took on Tyson Wahl down the Columbus right. On this occasion honors were even, Ekpo failing to beat the left back but managing to get the ball behind him. The cross however was hurried and sailed harmlessly past.
Steve Zakuani got his first chance to run at Frankie Hedjuk in the 6th minute. Hedjuk looked as puzzled as ever and backed off until Zakuani was able to cross the ball to Blaise Nkufo. The veteran of the Swiss Cup Final in 1998 could only flick the ball straight at the goalkeeper.
Seattle striker Fredy Montero was lucky to escape an early booking after tripping Crew midfielder Eddie Gaven in the 11th minute. There was plenty defensive backup with rendered the foul even more needlessly. Patrick Ianni was very alert to intercept a Guillermo Barros Schelotto flick aimed at Steven Lenhart. Seconds later Gaven drilled a long range effort over the bar. Columbus had achieved their first aspiration of not conceding an early goal and were becoming more adventurous.
Zakuani abandoned the left and caused some danger down the center channel in the 16th minute. He ran through the heart of the Crew defense and flicked the ball to Montero. Gruenebaum spilled the Colombian’s shot, but gathered at the second attempt.
The Sounders had a period of sustained pressure in the 18th minute, all started when Zakuani snuck inside Chad Marshall. Zakuani’s cross went across the face of the goal inspiring panic from Columbus, but no finish from Seattle.
Just before the 20th minute, Columbus carved out the best chance of the match. A beautiful Schelotto flick found Ekpo who laid the ball back to Gaven from inside the penalty area. Nearly eight yards out, Gaven should have put the visitors ahead. He snapped at the ball and sent it embarrassingly over the bar, a scant reward for one of the better players on the park at that point.
Montero had been lucky to escape a yellow for an earlier tackle and was even luckier when he crashed into Ekpo from behind. James Riley was about to be the next Sounders player to benefit from Michael Kennedy’s generosity in the 23rd. However referee Kennedy finally produced the yellow for another foul on Gaven, probably for persistent fouling by the Sounders. It was a little harsh on James Riley who was paying for team indiscretions, mostly Montero’s.
The Crew took the lead in the 24th minute, with Frankie Hejduk as the offensive instigator. He found Lenhart who was allowed to turn inside the box and rolled the ball back to Kevin Burns. Burns succeeded where Gaven had failed minutes before and slotted the ball into the inside corner down to Kasey Keller’s right. It was a goal Columbus deserved, as they had looked the more dangerous of the sides after defending for the first ten minutes. Although Lenhart was given the sole assist, the goal was the culmination of a 5-man slick passing move involving those three, Schelotto and defender Brian Carroll.
A yellow was given to Shaun Francis in the 28th minute for a studs up tackle on Nate Sturgis. Merely yellow was being kind to Francis. On another day it could have easily been a red but neither side was showing any dissent to a referee being equally lenient to both sides.
The Sounders had an injury scare after Osvaldo Alonso tangled with Lenhart. Alonso was probably more sinner than sinned against but a better explanation was of two players going for a 50-50 ball with total commitment.
Montero committed his third foul, this time on Schelotto prompting Chad Marshall it was about time he was cautioned. However it seemed that Riley had got the card for his one foul and Montero’s three.
The Sounders equalized in the 38th minute and it was Sanna Nyassi who scored for the second game running. Gruenebaum attempted to punch a looping Tyson Wahl cross from the left. Under pressure from Nyassi, the keeper made very little impact on the ball which landed at the feet of Sturgis. He slipped the ball back to Nyassi who, seeing Gruenebum still off his line fired home powerfully behind the keeper.
Carroll was the next player to tempt Michael Kennedy to reach into his pocket. He was booked in the 41st minute while preventing Zakuani getting anywhere near Hedjuk.
Seattle constructed a beautiful passing move between Montero and Zakuani. Zakuani seemed destined to unload a shot on target until Marshall superbly dispossessed him using only his excellent reading of the game and his body weight to win the ball without even making a tackle. It was the art of defending at its best.
The Sounders began the second half the stronger without really troubling Gruenebaum. The keeper caught a Sturgis corner cleanly but that was his only action in the first 15 minutes of the second half even though Sounders had more possession. Montero and Riley combined to win a corner after a trailing leg deflected an effort wide. Gruenebaum came for the corner and missed again but Jeff Parke headed the free ball over.
He did foil Zakuani brilliantly seconds later after Hejduk had let him through, diving low down at the midfielder’s feet. Keller was finally called into action in the 63rd minute when Eddie Gaven ended another passing move with a long range effort. The veteran keeper held the ball cleanly.
Nyassi scored a second in the 66th minute after chaos in the Crew defence Nkufo hit the bar with a header but the ball bounced down in front of him and Hejduk. Nkufo anticipated the bounce first. With Gruenbaum stranded behind the goal line, Nyassi put the ball into the net.
Hejduk attempted to make amends with a cross which was allowed to progress too far along the ground into the heart of the Seattle defense. Keller came out and followed that with a good scream at his inattentive defenders. Gaven nearly put the ball through his own net after Wahl back headed a Sturgis corner.
Alonso picked up a yellow for a foul on Gaven in the 74th minute. Steve Zakuani finally ran through Hejduk but he out paced his colleagues. Nyassi joined him a minute later for fouling Ekpo as the Crew picked up a gear.
Emilio Renteria and Andres Mendoza replaced Lenhart and the goal scorer Burns in the 78th minute. Montero hit Nkufo’s header with a drive but it was mostly Crew pressure. Goal scorer Nyassi left the field for Alvaro Fernandez a minute later, as Sigi Schmid sought to seal up the final ten minutes.
Warzycha threw his final substitute on in the 81st minute, with Robbie Rogers replacing Gaven.
Riley’s diving header led to a corner which Rogers turned onto the crossbar with Keller beaten. The deflection wasn’t as kind to Columbus as the earlier one had been to Seattle and was cleared.
Schelotto was booked for body-checking Zakuani in full flight. Sturgis fired the free kick straight into Gruenbaum’s arms.
Levesque came on to run down the clock with Zakuani leaving with only minutes remaining.
Jaqua came on to replace Montero in stoppage time but the die was cast. The Sounders had won the cup. They now become the first team to qualify for the 2011-12 CONCACAF Champions League, where they will enter in the preliminary round.
2010 – Columbus Crew (MLS) 1:2 Seattle Sounders FC (MLS) 10/5/10 | Qwest Field – Seattle, Washington
Seattle Sounders: Kasey Keller (GK), James Riley, Jeff Parke, Patrick Ianni, Tyson Wahl, Nathan Sturgis, Osvaldo Alonso, Blaise Nkufo, Sanna Nyassi (79′ Alvaro Fernandez), Steve Zakuani (90′ Roger Levesque), Fredy Montero (90’+ Nate Jaqua)
Cautions – James Riley 23′, Osvaldo Alonso 74′ , Sanna Nyassi 75′ ,
Columbus Crew: Andy Greunebaum (GK), Frankie Hejduk, Chad Marshall, Andy Iro, Shaun Francis, Brian Carroll, Emmanuel Ekpo, Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Steven Lenhart (78′ Andres Mendoza), Kevin Burns (78′ Andres Mendoza), Eddie Gaven (81′ Robbie Rogers)
Cautions – Shaun Francis 24′ , Brian Caroll 41′ , Guillermo Barros Schelotto 87′