The Seattle Sounders are on their way to their fifth U.S. Open Cup Final in the last six years – and they couldn’t have gotten there in a more emphatic fashion.
Led by two goals each from Kenny Cooper and Andy Rose, the Sounders dismantled the visiting Chicago Fire 6-0 in the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup at Starfire Sports Complex. Seattle will travel to play the Philadelphia Union in the final of the tournament on September 16.
Chad Barrett opened the scoring in the first half, and Obafemi Martins came off the bench in the second half in his U.S. Open Cup debut to add another insurance tally for the Sounders.
“When it rains it pours,” said Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid. “We did well finishing tonight, the early goal got us off to a really good start. Bringing in some guys with fresh legs, Cooper, Barrett, Andy Rose getting back into the mix, really helped us at the end of the day. made us a little quicker, a little sharper, which is what we wanted to achieve.”
Both teams started without their top goal-scorers on the pitch. Chicago was missing Mike Magee due to a red card he picked up in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal victory at Atlanta, while Martins was on the bench for Seattle and Clint Dempsey was not even in uniform.
But Seattle proved to be just fine with their reserve strikers starting, and it was Barrett who got the Sounders on the board just six minutes into the match. Cooper received the ball from Rose on the right hand side and created space with a sharp cut-back before rolling a cross into the penalty area. The ball eluded three Fire defenders on its way to Barrett, and the one-time Chicago player smashed a shot into the net past a helpless Sean Johnson.
Seattle’s first goal brought about Chicago’s best spell of the evening. The Fire created several opportunities over the next ten minutes, largely through Quincy Amarikwa’s harassing runs.
Chicago’s best chance to equalize came in the 22nd minute after an Osvaldo Alonso foul on the edge of the penalty area. Chicago worked a tricky set-play to give Jeff Larentowicz a clear shot at goal, but Seattle keeper Stefan Frei was just able to block Larentowicz’s blast before Seattle’s defense scrambled clear.
However, Fire head coach Frank Yallop did not think that his team converting on one of their early chances would have altered the way the game unfolded.
“You can’t play the game and concede six goals in the match,” Yallop said. “Whether we scored or not, I don’t think it would have changed anything.”
Seattle stifled Chicago’s growing momentum with their second goal in the 33rd minute. After a blasted shot by Alonso forced a corner for Seattle, Marco Pappa’s corner kick found Rose at the back post and the Englishman headed it down and into the corner of the net.
The Sounders took that 2-0 lead into the locker room, and only took 13 minutes to add to it in the second half. Again, it was Pappa finding Rose.
This time, Pappa dribbled into the corner, then spun around to set up his preferred left foot. His cross again found Rose open at the back post, and Rose again headed the ball past Johnson and into the net to put the game out of reach. It marked his second goal of the game in just his second start of the season.
“He’s been held back a little bit with injuries,” Schmid said. “ can give you something, because when he can come forward he’s dangerous on set pieces. It was his ball into Cooper that set up that first goal. Andy can play very simple and sees things like that.”
Soon after, Yallop substituted on Matthew Fondy for Chicago, adding a second striker onto the field in an effort to produce some sort of attacking spark.
For their part, the Sounders brought on designated player Obafemi Martins as a substitute in the 74th minute, and it only took him five minutes to get on the board. Martins ran onto a flicked pass from Cooper and simply ran at the tired Chicago defense until space opened up, which the Nigerian took to slot home the fourth goal of the night.
After that, Chicago’s spirit visibly was broken, and the Sounders showed no mercy. Cooper capitalized by scoring Seattle’s fifth and sixth goals in a span of three minutes.
First, Cooper, left completely unmarked in the box, headed in a pinpoint cross from DeAndre Yedlin in the 82nd minute. About 75 seconds later, Martins slid a pass through for an onrushing Cooper to slot home for his second goal, sending the capacity Starfire crowd into delirium.
“I think our guys thrive on the closeness of the crowd,” Schmid said. “It helps spur them on to good performances.”
Seattle’s performance might have been the best of their 2014 season, and it left them one victory away from their MLS record-tying fourth U.S. Open Cup title.
FULL MATCH REPLAY