It had been two years since Seattle Sounders FC had played a US Open Cup match at their home fortress of Starfire Sports Complex. They made sure not to waste the opportunity.
In front of a standing-room-only crowd, the Sounders swept aside amateur club PSA Elite 5-0 to reach the fifth round of the tournament. Kenny Cooper scored a pair of goals, Brad Evans and Cam Weaver added first-half tallies and Sean Okoli chipped in with a fifth late in the match.
“We weren’t happy with how we started the Open Cup last year, so we wanted to make sure we got off to a better start,” said Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid.
The Sounders certainly did that in a match that was never in doubt. They controlled play from the opening whistle, owning the vast majority of possession, and while PSA Elite defended in an organized, composed fashion for the first twenty minutes, it all came undone when they conceded a needless penalty.
Seattle’s Aaron Kovar worked his way into the box on a tricky run, then had his legs cut out from underneath him by a reckless tackle. The referee had no choice but to point to the spot, leaving Brad Evans to step up and send keeper Earl Edwards, Jr. the wrong way, coolly converting the penalty for the first goal of the match.
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The goal clearly settled the Sounders’ nerves, and it seemed inevitable they would score again. In the 40th minute, they did. This time it was defender Zach Scott getting on the end of a Kovar cross and heading it in at the far post.
Seattle kept bombing in crosses, and the amateur side had no match for the two big forwards they were facing. A cross from David Estrada led to Cooper’s first goal, a point-blank header that Cooper smashed into the net for a 3-0 lead just before the halftime whistle.
“We wanted to have a little bit of a bigger team to take advantage of set pieces, because we knew they weren’t an overly big team and it’s a small field,” Schmid said.
One of those set pieces led to Cooper’s second goal in the 56th minute. After the Sounders won a corner kick and Kovar played it into the box, Zach Scott kept the ball alive and poked it free towards Cooper. The 6’3” forward then executed a successful bicycle kick from about six yards out to make the score 4-0, and left the PSA defense throwing up their hands in frustration.
The Irvine, Calif.-based amateur team never gave up on trying to sneak a goal against the Sounders – they began in a 4-5-1 formation before substituting on an extra forward at halftime – but it took until the 50th minute for them to register their first shot of the match, a fairly tame effort by Michael Salazar. It was also their last shot of the match. Seattle out-shot PSA Elite 21-1 throughout the game.
With five minutes left in regulation and the match no longer in doubt, Okoli tapped in a cross from substitute Chad Barrett to make it 5-0. It was his first goal for the Sounders. Okoli, who played for the Sounders FC Academy and U-23 teams, grew up in Federal Way, just 13 miles south of Starfire.
The Sounders avoided being knocked out in their first match of the US Open Cup for the second straight year. They fell on the road to NASL side Tampa Bay Rowdies 1-0 in 2013, putting an end to their all-time US Open Cup record 22-game unbeaten streak.
PSA Elite were trying to win their second straight match against a professional club, after knocking out LA Galaxy II in penalties in the Third Round. However, they were still the only club from the USASA ranks to reach the fourth round of the tournament.
Seattle will now host the San Jose Earthquakes (2-1 winners over Sacramento Republic) in the Fifth Round of the US Open Cup, at Starfire Sports Complex on June 24 at 7:30 p.m. local time.
REPLAY: PSA ELITE AT SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC