The weather was perfect for soccer in Tukwila for the Seattle Sounders’ Semifinal US Open Cup match against MLS Western Conference rivals Houston Dynamo. The two teams had met this past week in league play with Seattle coming out on top 2-1 victors and in front of a sold-out crowd of Sounders faithful at the Starfire Sports Complex, they repeated the feat but needed extra time to do it.
It was Houston who struck first with an Ade Akinbiyi strike after 32 minutes of play. Houston looked strong early despite having few regulars and tried to make the most of their goal by eating up the clock. Play was rough with Houston unwilling to go down twice in one week while the Sounders tried to breach the Open Cup Semifinal barrier.
Nate Jaqua sported a bandaged head from a collision early in the game that continued to bleed however his pain would turn to pleasure when his 89th minute goal saved his team from elimination. Sebastien Le Toux played a ball into the box and Roger Levesque one-timed it to Jaqua who’s shot deflected off a defender and into the goal.
Seattle had battled furiously into the closing minutes and their effort was rewarded as they continued forcing chances into the overtime period. It was Stephen King that brought the Sounders their go ahead goal five minutes into the overtime to the relief of the fans. Steve Zakuani took his defender one-on-one on the left wing, played a ball on the ground into the box and Le Toux got the slightest of touches to the center of the box where King was there on the doorstep to bury it into the top part of the net. Despite losing All-Star defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado to a second yellow caution, the Sounders held on to defeat Houston and advance to the Open Cup Final to face defending champions DC United on September 2.
Despite having a rich and successful history as part of the USL First Division, the Seattle Sounders’ MLS expansion team is considered a completely brand new franchise, putting them in position to become the first expansion team since the Chicago Fire in 1998 to win the tournament in their inaugural season. The Sounders become the first Seattle-based team to reach the Open Cup Final since the Mitre Eagles did it in 1987.