The Seattle Sounders became the first Major League Soccer expansion team since the 1998 Chicago Fire to win the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup when they defeated DC United 2-1 on September 2. There were many reasons for the Sounders’ run to their first trophy, but leading the way was the play of goalkeeper Kasey Keller, who has been named TheCup.us Player of the Tournament. Keller was in goal for all four of the Sounders’ narrow victories, each of them decided by a single goal.
The tournament began for Seattle in the Third Round with Keller helping his team beat their bitter rivals, the Portland Timbers 2-1. It was a big road win and a bit of a homecoming for Keller as he began his career playing for the Timbers back in 1989. The Sounders played their next two Cup games at the Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, WA and once again the former US National Team star came through again. He earned a 1-0 shutout over the Kansas City Wizards on July 7 and then made three saves in the club’s 2-1 extra time win over the Houston Dynamo in the Semifinals. Keller capped off an impressive tournament with some big saves, six in all, in the club’s championship win at RFK Stadium.
There were a number of worthy candidates for the award, including teammates Sebastien Le Toux (1 goal, 2 assists — all game-winners), Roger Levesque (2 goals including the game-winner in the Final and the game-tying assist in the Semifinals), Montero (Goal in Final, Drew the PK in 1-0 Q-Final win vs. KC), DC United’s Boyzzz Khumalo (2 goals including late game-winner vs. Rochester in Semifinals) and Kenny Bundy of the Wilmington Hammerheads (2 game-winning goals).
Montero was named TheCup.us Player of the Round for the championship game. The Colombian was dangerous throughout his time in the match, but his performance highlighted by the opening goal in the 67th minute. Montero was also the unfortunate victim of a stomping by DC United goalkeeper Josh Wicks’ shortly after scoring the go-ahead goal. Wicks was sent off for the attack on Montero, giving Seattle a man advantage for the remainder of the Final.
The Player of the Round and Player of the Tournament awards are voted on by the staff of TheCup.us and select members of the North American Soccer Reporters, a group that consists of members of print, television, radio and online media. More information about the NASR can be found at www.soccerreporters.com. (Note: A new website for the organization is currently in the works)
The staff at TheCup.us would like to thank the great people at SoundersFC.com who took the time to interview the two award winners for us and produced the video you see above. Congratulations to the Sounders and best of luck in the 2010/11 CONCACAF Champions League.