The Seattle Sounders are the first team since the mid-1930s to reach the US Open Cup Final four straight years. Photo: Corky Trewin | Seattle Sounders FC
Seattle Sounders FC have once again made history in the US Open Cup, becoming the third team to ever to appear in four straight Finals. They earned it, ironically enough, by repeating history, knocking off Chivas USA for the second time in the Semifinals, by a score of 4-1 at Starfire Sports Complex. They defeated the Goats 3-1 at the same stadium back in 2010.
Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Sammy Ochoa and Eddie Johnson all tallied for the Sounders who win their 30th all-time tournament win and add to their Modern Pro Era record unbeaten streak of 21 games.
No team has ever won four straight tournament titles in the 99-year history of the US Open Cup, and to accomplish that, the Sounders will have to win it on the road. The Final will be hosted by Sporting Kansas City, who defeated the Philadelphia Union 2-0 in the other Semifinal, at LiveStrong Sporting Park on Aug. 8.
The game was fairly crisp early on, as both teams were on top of each other’s passes. Jhon Kennedy Hurtado had a chance for Seattle 11 minutes in, but Chivas keeper Dan Kennedy was up to the task to keep the game scoreless early.
Chivas was able to get a free kick 25 yards out from Sounders FC keeper Bryan Meredith’s left with the sun in his eyes, but instead of playing the ball high, went on the ground for an easy clearance with 19 minutes gone. A couple of minutes later the Goats’ Jorge Villafana threatened with a cross, but it went clear of Alejandro Moreno and out for a goal kick.
Seattle would settle down, easily clearing the Goats’ first corner at the 26 minute mark, and started to impose themselves offensively. Forward Fredy Montero went down in the box, but play was waved on with about 30 minutes gone. Seattle recovered the clearance at midfield a minute later, and Osvaldo Alonso threaded the ball through two defenders to catch Eddie Johnson onside running behind the defense. Johnson took the ball into the area, and Kennedy could only get a finger on the shot as the home team jumped in front. Johnson nearly recorded a brace three minutes later, forcing Kennedy to make an excellent kick save with his header.
For Eddie Johnson, it was his fifth career US Open Cup goal, and his first since 2005 when he played for FC Dallas.
Johnson had been mired in controversy after the last round, being involved in a postgame fracas with San Jose Earthquakes’ Jed Zayner. The US Open Cup disciplinary committee ultimately decided against issuing any discipline to either player, and his play showed that he clearly wasn’t bothered by the incident.
Play threatened to get chippy at the end of the first half, however the ref was fully determined to prevent things from getting out of hand. Osvaldo Alonso saw yellow in the 42nd for persistent infringement, while Oswaldo Minda was booked two minutes later for taking down Montero. The half ended with Seattle looking the stronger side, as Chivas had not attempted a shot in the first 45.
The Sounders seemed determined to prove that statement true, as they went on the attack immediately after the halftime break. Montero was once again pulled down inside the box, this time by Chivas’ Rauwshan McKenzie, in a nearly-identical play to the takedown in the first half. This time, however, a penalty was called, and Alonso fooled Kennedy into diving low and floated the ball above him to double the Seattle lead. Johnson would nearly put the game away after receiving a lofty cross from the other side of the field and volleying it in, but the goal was ruled offside.
After Seattle dominated the first fifteen minutes of the last half, Goats manager Robin Fraser started adding firepower to his side, subbing in Cesar Romero for Blair Gavin in the 64th minute. Brad Evans of the Sounders had been subbed in for 19-year-old Cordell Cato three minutes earlier, and both new players would prove to be important to the game’s outcome.
Romero would receive the ball inside the area in the 74th minute and fire on goal but Meridith made the save. The ball rebounded right back to the shooter though, and this time Cesar’s shot was true, cutting the home lead in half. History had begun repeating itself, as two years ago Jesus Padilla scored in the 66th to generate the same scoreline at that point in the Semifinal game. Chivas was definitely spurred on by the goal, gaining confidence in the next few minutes, however being unable to generate an equalizer.
Seattle would yet end up proving their class again with seven minutes left. Montero dribbled the ball toward the edge of the box, freezing Kennedy on his line with his long-distance prowess and willingness to pull the trigger. Once again having Kennedy fooled, Montero slid the ball to streaking sub Evans, who left the Chivas keeper helpless as he one-timed the ball into the twine, icing the game for the three-time defending champions.
Johnson’s day ended three minutes later, as Sammy Ochoa subbed on for him. With Seattle attacking, fellow sub Alvaro Fernandez lost the ball inside the box. Ochoa was keen to recover it though, and caught Kennedy out of position to tally the game’s final goal.
Chivas tried to rally for a pride goal, however the Sounders deftly played keep-away through the three minutes of stoppage time, keeping their perfect all-time record at Starfire intact (15-0-0, outscoring opponents 45-9) and improving their all-time home record to 23-2-1 (1-0 PKs).
The Sounders are just the third club in the history of the tournament to reach four straight Finals. Bethlehem Steel (1915-1919) and Stix, Baer & Fuller (1933-1937) each advanced to five straight championship games. Bethlehem Steel were National Challenge Cup (as it was called then) champions in 1915 and 1916 before finishing runner-up in 1917, and then lifting back-to-back trophies again in 1918 and 1919. St. Louis-based Stix, Baer & Fuller won three straight titles in 1933, 34 and 35 with the third championship coming under the team’s new sponsor, ‘Central Breweries.’ They changed their name to ‘Shamrocks SC’ in 1936 and finished runner-up that year and again in 1937, losing by one goal in the second leg to the New York Americans.
Full match highlights (SoundersFC.com)
Sigi Schmid post-game interview
Eddie Johnson post-game interview
Osvaldo Alonso post-game interview
Brad Evans post-game interview
SCORING: SEA- Eddie Johnson (Osvaldo Alonso) 31′ SEA- Osvaldo Alonso (PK) 48′ CHV- Cesar Romero (Unassisted) 74′ SEA- Brad Evans (Fredy Montero) 83′ SEA- Sammy Ochoa (Unassisted) 88′
LINEUPS: SEA- Bryan Meredith; Zach Scott (Capt), Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Pat Ianni, Leo Gonzalez; Cordell Cato (Brad Evans 61′), Osvaldo Alonso, Mike Rose, Alex Caskey (Alvaro Fernandez 81′); Fredy Montero, Eddie Johnson (Sammy Ochoa 86′). Subs not used: Josh Ford; Jeff Parke, Marc Burch, Mauro Rosales.
CHV- Dan Kennedy; Danny Califf, James Riley, Rauwshan McKenzie, Jorge Villafana; Oswaldo Minda, Ben Zemanski (Ryan Smith 85′), Blair Gavin (Cesar Romero 64′), Alejandro Moreno (Capt); Paolo Cardozo, Juan Pablo Angel (Jose Correa 69′). Subs not used: Tim Melia, John Alexander Valencia, Peter Vagenas, Casey Townsend.
DISCIPLINE: SEA- Osvaldo Alonso 42′ (persistent infringement) CHV- Oswaldo Minda 44′ (tactical foul) CHV- Danny Califf 78′ (tactical foul)