Seattle Sounders U23s celebrate a goal against Outbreak SC. Photo: Denise McCooey
The Seattle Sounders U-23s required extra time to eliminate Outbreak Soccer Club from the First Round of the 2016 US Open Cup on Wednesday night. They won the match 3-1 on the strength of two goals in the final five minutes of extra time to earn themselves a Round 2 date with the PDL’s Kitsap Pumas.
The hosts started brightly, creating the better of the chances up to the half hour mark. Possession was roughly even but the U-23s’ superior size and athleticism gave them an edge in the attacking third. Outbreak goalkeeper Brenden Welch was forced into his first save on only three minutes in, pushing David Olsen’s shot from inside the area into the path of Keith Francisco. He missed the target from a tight angle on the rebound.
Francisco and Olsen would team up again in the 11th minute. This time, Olsen was on the end of a left-sided cross from Francisco, which he hit first time on the volley. Welch again saved, this time getting down to the base of the near right post to claw the shot away.
Outbreak would not waste the heroics of their goalkeeper. LeeRoy Maguraushe played an errant pass backwards in his own third and Oscar Aguero was more or less unbothered as he finished low to the right in a one on one with Sounders goalkeeper Paul Christensen. On 29 minutes, the open division qualifier from the SoCal Premier League had survived the pressure and taken the lead.
They nearly doubled their advantage in the 38th minute , only to be kept out by a fine save from Christensen. An Outbreak corner found goal-scorer Aguero at the back post and he lashed towards goal from about eight yards out. Christensen dove low and to the left and pawed it away for another corner.
Seattle Sounders U23s score a goal against Outbreak SC. Photo: Denise McCooey
Like the visitors before them, the Sounders would not waste the effort of their shot stopper. An outswinging corner from the right in the 41st minute was headed out toward the top of the box. Maguraushe, guilty of the turnover that led to the opening goal, ran onto the looping ball and struck a pure volley that kept rising until it met the roof of the net just inside the left-hand post. The midfielder was 25 yards out and just left of center, and his certain goal-of-the-round both atoned for his mistake and brought the Sounders U-23s level just before the half.
The tempo the match increased dramatically after the break. Play was stretched and both sides created half-chances on breaks and set pieces. On 73 minutes, James Haupt subbed out for Ash Apollon, who’d come to have a huge impact on the tie as it moved into extra time.
It took several more saves from Welch to get there, though. His best second half stop came when he pushed a Francisco effort around the post off a strike from close range. Centerback Laokandi Collyns just missed with his right foot from inside the six as well, and heading into extra time the hosts looked decidedly the fresher of the two teams.
The first 15 minutes of extra time passed without any real chances or serious incident. Ten minutes into the second half of extra time, Ash Apollon initiated the first of three match-deciding plays he would be involved in.
Countering down the right, Apollon slid Olsen through on goal after the forward made a sharp run behind the back line. Olsen touched over the onrushing Welch, and Sounders U-23’s had their first lead.
After the ensuing kickoff, the U-23s immediately fashioned a 3-on-1 breakaway as Outbreak pressed to equalize. It was clear that there was at least one more goal left in the game despite there only being five minutes and stoppage to play.
Three minutes after the go-ahead goal, Apollon won himself with a penalty to seal the match. As he charged in the area with the ball at his feet, he took a shove in the back and won the spot kick.
Welch made his finest save of the night, diving left to push Apollon’s low attempt off the post. At 2-1 in the 118th minute, the visitors still felt they had a prayer of penalties after Apollon failed to put them away.
The second half substitute quickly made up for his wastefulness, stroking home a right footed shot on a one-on-one opportunity after yet another Sounders counter as the clock hit full time. The referee blew the whistle soon after, giving the Sounders a 3-1 victory.
In the end, the athleticism of the hosts made up for the experience and chemistry of the visitors, who tired as the match wore on. The U-23s next play the Kitsap Pumas in the Second Round of the US Open Cup in Bremerton, Wash. on May 18.