The Seattle Sounders celebrate their fourth US Open Cup championship. Photo: Bob Larson | TheCup.us
Seattle etched its place in the annals of US Open Cup history, winning its fourth title, 3-1 over the Philadelphia Union in a thrilling extra time affair in the tournament’s 101st Final in Chester, Pa.
The MLS-leading Sounders showed their class in overtime after ending regular time tied at 1-1. Playing counterattack soccer, star strikers Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins each scored, earning Seattle its fourth championship in six years, tying it for second all-time with the New York Greek American Atlas SC, Chicago Fire and Philadelphia club Ukrainian Nationals, and putting them one behind Maccabee AC (Los Angeles) and Bethlehem Steel for most overall.
“[Dempsey and Martins] know where each other are all the time. They just find each other. They have developed a really good relationship with each other,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said about the Sounders’ second goal.
Philadelphia, who was playing for its first championship, nearly won the game in regulation. In second-half injury time, Vincent Nogueira beat Sounders goalie Stefan Frei, but his shot banged off the left post. It was the end to a dramatic finish, with the Union pushing as hard as it could for a winner. It was a historic evening for a number of Sounders.
In addition to joining the four-title club, Sigi Schmid added to his Modern Professional Era (1995-present) record with his fifth Open Cup title as a manager (2001 with Los Angeles Galaxy and 4 with the Sounders) and Osvaldo Alonso played in his sixth cup final, which is also a record since 1995.
“We’re good at this,” Schmid told Sounders play-by-play announcer Ross Fletcher during a post-game interview.
Stefan Frei lifts the US Open Cup trophy for the first time for the Seattle Sounders. Photo: Bob Larson | TheCup.us
The game started quickly, and never let up. Often finals begin as cagey affairs, with teams electing to play defensively. The Union and Sounders bucked the norm, attacking plenty. It was the home side attacking first, with an offside call eliminating a promising chance in the opening minute. Seattle’s Dempsey had the first great chance of the game in the 11th minute. A ball crossed in by Andy Rose led to a point-blank effort from the US National Team star, but he hit his attempt high over the bar.
Sebastien Le Toux, the US Open Cup Modern Pro Era leading goal scorer with 14, was the next with a good chance, but his half-shot, half-cross was calmly collected by goalkeeper Stefan Frei. Seemingly trading chances, Chad Marshall missed a free header in the 24th minute on a corner kick. Le Toux, who won an Open Cup title with Seattle in 2009, took his turn again in the 30th minute, getting on the end of Andrew Wenger’s cross, but his close-range effort was saved by Frei.
Seattle Sounders celebrate its fourth US Open Cup title at PPL Park in Chester, Pa. Photo: Bob Larson | TheCup.us
The Union’s Maurice Edu broke the deadlock in the 38th minute. After earning a foul, Cristian Maidana whipped in a free kick from the right from about 30 yards out. The ball found the head of Edu, who was able to knock it in. Edu’s goal, his second of the tournament, gave Philadelphia a 1-0 halftime lead.
The away side caught the Union sleeping to start the second half, however. Brad Evans put in a corner kick in the 47th minute, which was poorly cleared by Philadelphia. The ball made its way back into the box, and Chad Barrett easily headed it home for his fourth career tournament goal.
Tied at one apiece, the Union finally found the energy that it had in the first half fueled by 15,256 fans in attendance. That energy led to a breakaway that surely looked like it would turn into a goal. Maidana made some nifty moves to get past the Seattle defense, and was all alone in on the Seattle goal. The Sounders’ DeAndre Yedlin proved to be the hero, using his blazing speed to track back and win the ball.
Seattle also had several chances to win the game in regular time. Second-half substitute Marco Pappa’s cross hit Dempsey right next to the net, but for the second time, he missed from close range. Just a minute later, Martins also missed a golden opportunity.
DeAndre Yedlin celebrates with his teammates after winning the 2014 US Open Cup title.
In the 88th minute, Frei made a fantastic save on Pedro Ribeiro, then Nogueira’s chance hit the post to save the Sounders from giving up a late winner.
Union interim coach Jim Curtin said, “Finals are always one-play games … little breaks in the game. I’ve never been proud of a loss before. This is the first time.”
For the fourth time in five Open Cup matches in 2014, the Union went to overtime. That experience didn’t help however, as it was Seattle breaking the deadlock. On a counterattack, Dempsey passed to Martins, who was swarmed by three defenders. He passed back to Dempsey, who kicked it to the left of Zach MacMath, finally getting the goal he had been looking for. For Dempsey, his first career tournament goal couldn’t have come at a better time.
Martins put the game away in the 114th minute. One-on-one against Raymon Gaddis, Martins used his power to hold off the defender. MacMath charged out, but Martins slotted it home for an unassailable 3-1 victory.
“It’s all about people wanting to win trophies,” Schmid said. “That’s the attitude we approach the Open Cup with.”
Michael Berton is a freelance soccer writer out of the Philadelphia area. He also works at the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia and you can follow him on Twitter @MichaelBerton.
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2014 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Final
Philadelphia Union vs. Seattle Sounders
PPL Park – Chester, PA
PHI: Maurice Edu (Cristian Maidana) – 38th min.
SEA: Chad Barrett (unassisted) – 47th min.
SEA: Clint Dempsey (Obafemi Martins) – 101st min.
SEA: Obafemi Martins (unassisted) – 114th min.
Philadelphia: Zac MacMath; Sheanon Williams (Fred-109’), Carlos Valdes, Ethan White, Raymon Gaddis; Sebastien Le Toux, Maurice Edu, Vincent Nogueira, Cristian Maidana; Andrew Wenger (Danny Cruz-81’), Conor Casey (Pedro Ribeiro-78’)
Seattle: Stefan Frei; Leo Gonzalez, Zach Scott, Chad Marshall, DeAndre Yedlin; Lamar Neagle (Marco Pappa-74’), Andy Rose, Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans (Gonzolo Pineda-94’); Clint Dempsey, Chad Barrett (Obafemi Martins-60’)