The 2009 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup final can be regarded as one of the best in recent memory as 17,329 fans at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. witnessed the Seattle Sounders defeat DC United by a score of 2-1. End-to-end action was rampant throughout the game, with both goalkeepers earning their money, plenty of controversies developing, and unlikely heroes emerging late in the match.
The turning point in the match came when DC United goalkeeper Josh Wicks was sent off for stomping on Seattle’s Fredy Montero moments after the Colombian scored the opening goal in the 67th minute. Two members of last year’s USL-1 Sounders that reached the Open Cup Semifinals scored a second when Sebastien Le Toux set up Roger Levesque to put the visitors up 2-0. Clyde Simms pulled one back for United late, but the defense, led by goalkeeper Kasey Keller, held on, making Seattle only the third road team to win an Open Cup title since 1996.
The first half featured many chances from both sides. Sounder Freddie Ljungberg took a free kick just outside the box in the 4th minute, but the ball landed in the arms of United keeper Josh Wicks. In the 12th, Ben Olsen shot from distance, but Seattle keeper Kasey Keller dove to his right to make the save. Ljungberg earned another shot on a pass from Sebastien Le Toux in the 19th minute, but Wicks was on top of it, making a great save. DC tested Keller again in the 33rd as Ben Olsen ripped a long drive from 30 yards out, but the Sounders captain parried it away for an eventually unsuccessful corner kick.
To finish off the first half, Fredy Montero headed the ball on a service from Le Toux, only to watch as Wicks made another outstanding save to keep the game scoreless at the break.
The second half started strong as well. DC United earned a free kick after Leo Gonzalez took down Santino Quaranta from about 25 yards out, earning a yellow card. However, Gomez couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity, sending the shot well over the goal. In the 59th minute, James Riley had appeared to commit a handball foul in the box on a Ben Olsen cross from the left side. However, nothing was called by referee Alex Prus.
The Sounders finally broke through in the 67th minute as Steve Zakuani sent a header over to Ljungberg inside the box. He took a shot from outside the six only to see Wicks make another save. However, a streaking Fredy Montero buried home the rebound to give Seattle the first goal of the match. Montero was stomped on while lying on the ground by Wicks in disgust, and after some discussion by the officials, Wicks was given a straight red card in the 69th minute, ending what was an outstanding game for him. It was the first straight red card in an Open Cup Final since New England’s Jay Heaps was tossed for elbowing in the 2001 title game against Los Angeles.
Seattle got another opportunity in the 82nd minute on a corner as a ball was set up inside the box, only for United backup keeper Milos Kocic to punch it away. Roger Levesque would try a follow-up, only to send it over the net. With DC getting more desperate, Quaranta launched a shot a couple minutes later from just outside the box, but Keller was there to handle it. On the ensuing counter, the ball found its way into the corner, where Sebastien Le Toux took it from DC defender Dejan Jakovic and made the “French Connection,” crossing to fellow longtime Sounder Roger Levesque, who touched it home to give the Sounders the 2-0 lead in the 86th minute.
Just three minutes later, a free kick by DC United ricocheted off Rodney Wallace inside the box and landed at the feet of Clyde Simms, who gave his team life by scoring the goal to cut the deficit in half. United would continue to press the rest of the match, culminating with a shot from Jaime Moreno off a Wallace corner, only to be punched away by Keller in the 95th minute.
The final whistle blew on the ensuing goal kick, giving the Sounders their first piece of silverware in their first MLS season. With the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup win, the Sounders become the first MLS expansion team to win the Open Cup since the Chicago Fire accomplished the feat as part of a double in 1998 (they also won MLS Cup that year). Seattle also becomes the first Washington-based club to win the tournament. The only other team to reach the championship game was the Mitre Eagles in 1987 but they lost in penalty kicks to the first Washington D.C. club to ever lift the trophy, Club Espana.
As added bonuses, Seattle not only gained $100,000 in prize money, but also earned a place in the 2010-2011 edition of the CONCACAF Champions League, where they will enter in the preliminary round.
2009 US OPEN CUP FINAL: HIGHLIGHTS
JOSH WICKS SENT OFF FOR STOMPING FREDY MONTERO