Surrounded by green, the visiting FC Dallas side was unable to find its way out of the forest and into the US Open Cup Championship October 4, falling 1-0 to the host Seattle Sounders at the Starfire Soccer Complex Tuesday night in the Open Cup Semifinal, before a packed house of 4,593. Fredy Montero provided the winner on the 40-minute mark.
Three proved to be the appropriate theme of the night. The third-year MLS Sounders advanced to the final for a chance to make history with a three-peat. It was the third meeting of the year between the two clubs tonight, and for the third time the match ended 1-0.
Dallas won the first league meeting in Seattle earlier in the year, courtesy of Brek Shea. Mauro Rosales provided the winner in Frisco 10 days ago. Tonight, it was Fredy Montero that made a nice cut at the edge of the box, creating a little space before ripping a low shot inside the far post past Kevin Hartman.
Rosales, though, was at the heart of the Sounders offensive flow in the first half, as they attempted to take the attack to an FC Dallas defense that has posted four shutouts of late in the CONCACAF Champions League. Dallas, however, withheld returning player George John from the starting lineup following his return from England Sunday evening, after his transfer to Blackburn fell through.
In the 26th minute, Jeff Parke and Montero worked the remnants of a corner kick around to Rosales, who fired just wide of the post.
It was one of few quality chances either side had on the night, despite the Sounders holding the majority of play in the offensive end, particularly in the first half. Opportunities for the home club seemed to be hanging in the atmosphere of the intimate venue, as the mob of fans surrounded the red and white of the visitors, smothering everything in sight with a relentless wave of noise and enthusiasm.
An Alvaro Fernandez chance in the 35th also went for naught, with Kevin Hartman punching the attempt from the baseline away.
But Montero’s one little move, on a night when space seemed to be at a premium, made the difference five minutes before the break. He sent Ugo Ihemelu, who also made a defensive error that led to the winning Sounders goal in Frisco 10 days ago, the wrong way before letting loose the curling left-footer.
Spending the majority of their time defending their own end, the visitors saw even fewer chances at beating Kasey Keller, relying primarily on counter opportunities that never seemed to find a good connection.
Four minutes into the second half, however, Marvin Chavez made a move that nearly mirrored that of Montero’s. He collected the ball on the left side of the box, made a quick juke to create a little space from a Seattle defender, then blasting a shot that made a loud thud as it smacked off the left post, piercing the air of the momentarily silent audience.
Another half hour of soccer was nearly added onto what was at times a physical contest in the tight confines of the play. Midway into three minutes of stoppage time, Chavez again had a chance to be the hero for Dallas when the ball came to him.
Keller uncharacteristically had missed greatly in a scramble to clear the ball, which would find its way out to the top of the box to Chavez, who skied his attempt harmlessly well over the goal as Keller, and his defenders scurried to protect what was an open net.
SEA — Fredy Montero (Alvaro Fernandez) 40
DAL — Daniel Cruz (caution; Reckless Foul) 12
DAL — Daniel Hernandez (caution; Dissent) 22
SEA — Leo Gonzalez (caution; Tactical Foul) 35
SEA — Brad Evans (caution; Reckless Tackle) 58
DAL — Ricardo Villar (caution; Reckless Tackle) 63
DAL — Maicon Santos (caution; Dissent) 63
DAL — Daniel Hernandez (ejection; Violent Conduct) 94+
FC Dallas — Kevin Hartman, Jair Benitez (Jack Stewart 89), Jeremy Hall, Ugo Ihemelu, Andrew Jacobson, Daniel Hernandez, Daniel Cruz (George John 46), Marvin Chavez, Brek Shea, Ricardo Villar (Jackson 64), Maicon Santos.
Substitutes Not Used: Victor Ulloa, Bobby Warshaw, Andrew Wiedeman, Chris Seitz.
Seattle Sounders — Kasey Keller, Zach Scott, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez, Mauro Rosales, Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Alvaro Fernandez (Lamar Neagle 84), Fredy Montero (James Riley 89), Pat Noonan (Mike Fucito 66).
Substitutes Not Used: Erik Friberg, Nate Jaqua, Tyson Wahl, Josh Ford.
Referee: Hilario Grajeda
Referee’s Assistants: Mike Rottersman; Paul Scott
4th Official: Jeff Hosking
Time of Game: 1:53
Weather: Partly Cloudy and 68 degrees
Above videos and all photos by Gerald Barnhart / TheCup.us
Above video courtesy of SoundersFC.com