One week removed from winning the CONCACAF Champions League and cementing themselves as the winningest tournament team in MLS history, the Seattle Sounders kicked off another tournament in a familiar setting at their home training facility, Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, Wash. The Sounders won three straight and four of six US Open Cups from 2009 – 2014 playing almost all of their games at the facility just south of Seattle, and the game was a welcome return for staff and fans alike.
However, since their fourth US Open Cup title in 2014, they have only reached the Quarterfinals once in the last six tournaments.
On the flip side, the San Jose Earthquakes have struggled this year after making a coaching change and winning just two of their first 10 league games. Like the Sounders, they also have stuggled in the Open Cup. Aside from a run to the Semifinals in 2017, San Jose has not won multiple tournament games in a single tournament in a decade.
So the Earthquakes came into Wednesday night’s match as the underdogs and when they let a 2-0 halftime deficit slip away, they regrouped and forced a penalty kick shootout. In the shootout, the two teams went back and forth into the 11th round where the goalkeepers ended up deciding the game. Seattle’s Stefan Cleveland missed his attempt and Matt Bersano made his to give San Jose a 10-9 win.
It was just the fourth PK shootout of the Modern Era to go 11 rounds or more.
It was just the second time that San Jose advanced in an Open Cup game in the state of Washington. The last time they tasted victory in Washington state was an extra time win over the Sounders in 2002 when Seattle was a member off the USL’s A-League (Div. 2 pro).
Both the Sounders and the Quakes elected to test the depth and youth of their squads, and it showed with a hectic back and forth game. San Jose jumped out to a 2-0 lead just after the halftime break, but the crowd picked up the intensity and the Sounders were able to steal the momentum and tie things up.
Early on, San Jose largely owned the possession with the Sounders looking to hit them on the break. In the 9th minute, Sounders centerback Abdoulaye Cissoko was called for a penalty on a decision the Sounders heavily protested, but ultimately Jack Skahan sent Stefan Cleveland the wrong way and slotted it home for a 1-0 lead.
Shortly after the halftime break San Jose doubled their lead as Cade Cowell powered through the right channel and forced the ball home through Cleveland’s legs.
The Sounders continued to be very aggressive on the break and up the wings, with Cleveland often playing his goal kicks to his wing backs before most of the field was ready. They quickly pulled a goal back through a curling left footed free kick from Jimmy Medranda, that Bersano dove to his left to try to save, but only got a piece of it before it ended up in the upper corner of the goal.
The momentum continued in the 77th minute, veteran Fredy Montero would tie the game with his first Open Cup goal since 2012. A ball was played across the face of goal in the air and Montero was at the far post and headed it past Bersano at close range to score his eighth career goal in the tournament, breaking a tie with Nate Jaqua for the club’s all-time leader in Seattle’s MLS era (2009-present).
In the penalty kick shootout, the Sounders went first and in San Jose’s half of the second frame, Jackson Yueill had his attempt saved after Cleveland dove to his right. Seattle were unable to take advantage of the miss as the next attempt failed when Leo Chu missed high.
The teams went back and forth all the way until the 11th round when the goalkeepers were called upon to take spot kicks. Cleveland elected to hit the ball low but Bersano made the save to his left. The goalies switched spots and Bersano buried it into the left side of the goal to give the Earthquakes their first shootout win since 2015 (vs. Sacramento Republic).
San Jose will await the results of Thursday night’s draw to determine who they will play in the Round of 16.