Tampa Bay’s Georgi Hristov fights to control the ball with Seattle’s Jhon Kennedy Hurtado. Hristov scored in the 75th minute for the Rowdies, the game’s only goal. (Mike Carlson/Tampa Bay Rowdies)
Seattle Sounders FC has had a long history of success in the U.S. Open Cup, winning three titles in three consecutive years, reaching the semifinals of the competition for the past six years in a row and holding a 22-game tournament unbeaten streak.
The Tampa Bay Rowdies didn’t care.
Georgi Hristov tapped in a rebound in the 75th minute and Diego Restrepo saved a late Sounders penalty, carrying the North American Soccer League’s Rowdies to a 1-0 third-round upset over the Major League Soccer side.
“We’re incredibly disappointed … I don’t even know what to say,” Sounders defender and captain Zach Scott said. Scott had to watch his younger brother Daniel celebrate as a member of the Rowdies.
The Rowdies fielded a mostly first-choice side, and the Sounders a lineup of mostly reserves, with two designated players on the bench. It was a tactic that would come back to bite the MLS side, as they were unable to score during a fragmented first half or find the equalizer late in the second.
Tampa Bay’s Luke Mulholland got free on a breakaway in the 75th minute and forced Sounders keeper Marcus Hahnemann into a save – but the keeper didn’t hold the ball and Hristov was there at the back post to finish the play off in front of a delirious home crowd.
Ten minutes later, the visitors had a chance to answer.
Seattle designated player – striker and substitute – Obafemi Martins headed a corner kick on goal, only to have it blocked nearly on the goal line by Rowdies defender Jordan Gafa’s arm. Gafa received a red card and the Sounders were given a golden chance to level the match with a penalty.
When Martins stepped up to take it himself, his low shot to the left side of goal was beaten away by a diving Restrepo, denying Martins the equalizer and sending Tampa Bay on their way to victory.
Players fight for the ball between Seattle and Tampa Bay during the first half of the third round. (Mike Carlson/Tampa Bay Rowdies)
Along with the Carolina Railhawks, who knocked off the LA Galaxy, Tampa Bay is one of two teams from the North American Soccer League still alive in the 100th edition of the U.S. Open Cup.
The Rowdies will face MLS-side Portland Timbers in the 4th round on June 12.
HIGHLIGHTS: SEATTLE SOUNDERS vs. TAMPA BAY ROWDIES
POST-GAME INTERVIEWS: SOUNDERS vs. ROWDIES
FAN EXPERIENCE: SOUNDERS vs. ROWDIES
Rowdies – Georgi Hristov 75.
Sounders FC – Alex Caskey (caution) 52; Mario Martinez (caution) 90.
Rowdies – Jordan Gafa (ejection) 85.
Sounders FC – Marcus Hahnemann, Dylan Remick (Obafemi Martins 80), Zach Scott, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Marc Burch, Mario Martinez, Servando Carrasco, Andy Rose, Alex Caskey (Sammy Ochoa 68), Lamar Neagle, David Estrada.
Rowdies – Diego Restrepo, Jordan Gafa, Daniel Scott, Takuya Yamada, Andrew Arango, Luke Mulholland, Shane Hill, Keith Savage, Raphael Cox, Devin Del Do (Mike Ambersley 64), Georgi Hristov.