The Seattle Sounders rolled past another Major League Soccer side Tuesday night, throttling the Colorado Rapids 5-0 at Qwest Field to return to the US Open Cup Semifinals for the first time since 1995.
Defenders Taylor Graham and Zach Scott scored on headers off set pieces in a two-minute span midway through the first half to set the tone for the Sounders, who earned a home match against FC Dallas in a Sept. 4 Semifinal.
The five-goal deficit is the worst defeat suffered by an MLS team in Open Cup history. The league’s worst loss to USL opponents prior to Tuesday night was three goals, which has happened four times since 1996. Of those four games, two of them involved the Rapids.
Josh Gardner and Sebastien Le Toux also found the back of the net for Seattle, both connecting after the Rapids were down to 10 men following defender Facundo Erpen’s second yellow card in the 49th minute. The goal for Le Toux was his fifth of the tournament, putting him alone atop this year’s scoring chart.
The Sounders had little trouble extending their overall unbeaten streak to 11 matches (10-0-1), posting their third convincing victory in four US Open Cup matches this year – Seattle has outscored its foes 14-3 in the competition, with a 2-1 win over USL First Division rival Portland in the Second Round the only close call.
|Worst losses by MLS since 1996|
|2007 Quarterfinals: Seattle (USL-1) 5:0 Colorado
2005 Fourth Round: Minnesota (USL-1) 4:1 Colorado
2003 Fourth Round: Wilmington (USL-2) 4:1 Dallas
2001 Second Round: Charleston (USL-1) 4:1 Metrostars
2000 Second Round: Richmond (USL-1) 3:0 Colorado
Colorado, meanwhile, lost for the eighth time in its past 12 games overall (1-8-3).
The Rapids fell behind in the 23rd minute when the 6-foot-4 Graham was alone on the back post to knock a corner kick by Gardner past Colorado goalkeeper Zach Thornton for his first goal of the season.
Just 120 seconds later, Leighton O’Brien’s free kick from 30 yards out on the left side found Scott streaking in alone on the back post. Thornton had no chance on the wide-open header, as Scott’s second goal of the year quickly made it 2-0.
Thornton did well to save Roger Levesque’s shot in the 41st minute, but the ball bounced out and deflected off Rapids defender Ugo Ihemelu, who was rushing back to help, and into the net for an own goal and a 3-0 lead for the Sounders.
If the outcome wasn’t already decided, Erpen’s second booking in the the 49th ensured it. The Argentine was sent off after a harsh challenge on Levesque that saw his cleats planted into the back of the forward’s thigh, leaving Colorado a man down for the final 41 minutes.
Given more space with which to operate, Le Toux excelled.
The Frenchman picked up a poor back pass by Colorado’s Nico Hernandez and carried the ball forward before finding Gardner streaking down the left side. Gardner pounded a shot that Thornton got a hand on, but he couldn’t keep it from becoming Gardner’s second goal of the season and a 4-0 advantage in the 56th minute.
12 minutes later, Le Toux – the TheCup.us Player of the Round after scoring twice and setting up the other goal in a 3-1 win over Chivas USA in the third round – got one for himself. He dribbled around Ihemelu and beat Thornton for his 11th goal of the year to complete the rout.
Chris Eylander posted the shutout for the Sounders, including a top-notch stop on Herculez Gomez in first half stoppage time. That was one of two quality scoring chances for Colorado on the night, the other coming in the 20th minute when Jose Cancela’s cross was flicked on by Conor Casey and looked like it would bounce into the net before Seattle defender Danny Jackson cleared it off the line.
SEA – Taylor Graham (Gardner) 23
SEA – Zach Scott (O’Brien) 25
SEA – Own Goal (Ihemelu) 43
SEA – Josh Gardner (Le Toux) 56
SEA – Sebastien Le Toux (unassisted) 68
Colorado Rapids – Zach Thornton, Brandon Prideaux, Ugo Ihemelu, Facundo Erpen, Colin Clark (Niko Hernandez 45), Jacob Peterson, Pablo Mastroeni (Jovan Kirovski 60), Jose Cancela (Dan Gargan 51), Mehdi Ballouchy, Conor Casey, Herculez Gomez (Daniel Osorno 64)
Substitutes Not Used: Bouna Coundoul, Terry Cooke, Nick LaBrocca
Seattle Sounders – Chris Eylander, Kevin Sakuda, Danny Jackson, Taylor Graham, Zach Scott, Kenji Treschuk (Nate Knox 79), Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar, Leighton O’Brien (Greg Howes 45), Josh Gardner, Sebastien Le Toux (Andre Schmid 71), Roger Levesque (Noah Merl 56)
Substitutes Not Used: Ben Dragavon, Adam West, Santa Maria Rivera
COL – Gomez (Caution) 29
SEA – Treschuk (Caution) 29
COL – Erpen (Caution) 38
COL – Cancela (Caution) 43
SEA – O’Brien (Caution) 43
COL – Erpen (Ejection, second caution) 49
SEA – Le Toux (Caution) 69
Referee: Ricardo Salazar
Referees Assts.: Jeff Hosking, Mike Rottersman
Fourth Official: Shahram Pourazari