Sounders FC claimed piece of United States soccer history tonight with a 2-0 win over the Chicago Fire in the U.S. Open Cup final.
It was the Sounders’ third consecutive Open Cup championship. No Major League Soccer team had ever done that, and no team of any kind has ever won more consecutively.
Seattle won in 2009 over D.C. United, and in 2010 against the Columbus Crew.
Their three-peat against the Fire came after controlling the game everywhere but on the scoreboard for most of its length. Despite that, the clubs remained even and scoreless until Fredy Montero sent in a goal in the 78th minute.
Osvaldo Alonso provided an insurance goal in the sixth minute of stoppage time.
Around the 77th minute, the Sounders unleashed an offensive flurry with several good chances on the attacking third. That sequence led to the corner kick that proved to be the difference.
Eric Friberg sent the ball into the middle of the box, where Jeff Parke headed it on goal. Chicago keeper Sean Johnson made the save, but couldn’t control it. The ball made it way to the foot of Montero, who sent it into the back of the net. Parke was credited with an assist.
Alonso settled it in the final seconds, working his way through the box and finally sending the ball into an open net past Chicago defenders and Johnson, who had been caught out of position.
Seattle’s chances started in the fifth minute, when Fucito got into the area and set a shot into the side netting. Late in the first half, and again early in the second, Montero sent balls off the uprights.
It continued that way, with the specter of added time and perhaps penalty kicks looming, until the lone breakthrough in the 78th minute.
The game was played in front of a U.S. Open Cup record crowd 35,615. The previous record was 31,311, set in the 2010 final in Seattle.
With the result, the Sounders get their third major trophy – all Open Cups. They remain in contention this season for MLS Cup, Supporters Shield and CONCACAF Champions League. They also own the supporters-sponsored Cascadia Cup for winning the round robin between themselves, the Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps.
Their Open Cup victory is expected to again earn their entry into the 2012 Champions League.
The Sounders return to MLS regular-season play at 7 p.m. Saturday when the Philadelphia Union visits CenturyLink.
I'll add quotes in new posts above. Here are the unofficial stats:
Scoring Summary: SEA -- Fredy Montero (Jeff Parke) 78SEA -- Osvaldo Alonso (unassisted) 96+ Chicago Fire -- Sean Johnson, Gonzalo Segares, Cory Gibbs, Josip Mikulic (Jalil Anibaba 61), Dan Gargan (Sebastian Grazzini 85), Marco Pappa, Pavel Pardo, Logan Pause, Daniel Paladini (Diego Chaves 80), Dominic Oduro, Patrick Nyarko.
Substitutes Not Used: Orr Barouch, Baggio Husidic, Michael Videira, Jon Conway.
TOTAL SHOTS: 6 (Marco Pappa 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (Marco Pappa 3); FOULS: 18 (Patrick Nyarko 4); OFFSIDES: 3 (Patrick Nyarko 2); CORNER KICKS: 6 (Daniel Paladini 3); SAVES: 6 (Sean Johnson 6)
Seattle Sounders -- Kasey Keller, James Riley, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez, Alvaro Fernandez (Erik Friberg 46), Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Lamar Neagle, Mike Fucito (Roger Levesque 89), Fredy Montero.
Substitutes Not Used: Nate Jaqua, Sammy Ochoa, Zach Scott, Tyson Wahl, Josh Ford.
TOTAL SHOTS: 24 (Mike Fucito 7); SHOTS ON GOAL: 8 (Erik Friberg 2, Jeff Parke 2); FOULS: 12 (Mike Fucito 4); OFFSIDES: 0; CORNER KICKS: 10 (Lamar Neagle 5); SAVES: 4 (Kasey Keller 4) Misconduct Summary:CHI -- Patrick Nyarko (caution; Reckless Tackle) 26CHI -- Daniel Paladini (caution; Tactical Foul) 37CHI -- Jalil Anibaba (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 90SEA -- Osvaldo Alonso (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 90 Referee: Alex PrusReferee's Assistants:-Steven Taylor; Eric Boria4th Official: Josh WilkensAttendance: 35,615Time of Game: 1:54Weather: Rain-and-58-degrees
78th minute: GOAL Seattle. Fucito corner, Friberg header, Johnson save, Montero finish. Seattle up 1-0 with 12 minutes to go.
Through 75 minutes: Still scoreless. Tick, tick, tick ...
Second half: ... is under way. One Sounders substitution: Fernandez out, Friberg in.
Halftime: Seattle dominated the scoreless first half. The first good chance came in the fifth minute, when Mike Fucito got into the area and set a shot into the side netting. The last came in first-half stoppage time, when Fredy Montero beat Sean Johnson, only to watch the ball bounce away off of the left post.
In between, the Sounders controlled the ball and had the best of the chances. But the shutout stood.
Seattle took 10 shots, Chicago 5 (all by Marco Pappa). Both teams put three on goal. Seattle had six corners, Chicago four.
Interesting (and ominous) note from U.S. Soccer: Finals that went into halftime scoreless (non-neutral sites) 3 of the 4 were won by road team.
First 10 minutes: Two good chances for Sounders, both from Mike Fucito. He puts first into side netting, and second seemed to find keeper Sean Johnson more than the other way around.
Fifth minute: First good (and missed) chance to Seattle, as Fucito puts one into the side netting from inside the box.
Kickoff: We're under way: Sounders in electricity/electricity; Fire in red/red. Shouldn't be any problem telling them apart.
Nice pregame tifo by ECS.
Lineups: For Seattle: GK Keller; D Riley, Parke, Hurtado, Gonzalez; M Fernandez, Alonso, Evans, Neagle; F Fucito Montero. Reserves: Ford, Friberg, Jaqua, Levesque, Ochoa, Scott, Wahl.
For Chicago: GK Johnson; D Segares, Gibbs, Mikulic, Gargan; M Pappa, Pardo, Pause, Paladini; F Oduro, Nyarko. Reserves: Conway, Anibaba, Barouch, Chaves, Grazzini, Husidic, Videira.
Elsewhere: New York beats Los Angeles, extending Seattle's hopes for the Supporters Shield. However, next LA win or Sounders loss is fatal to those hopes.
90 minutes before kickoff: A good seating section sliver of 150 or so red-clad Fire fans have found their way into CenturyLink.
The Cup: Any trophy is a good trophy. But not all trophies are created equal. I've always thought the U.S. Open Cup is a particularly cool trophy and also the most under-valued. I love the all-comers concept, and any competition surviving since 1914 deserves some respect.
Sounders coach Sigi Schmid did an especially nice job of defining that during a conference call yesterday:
“I’m a big fan of history and tradition and this is a competition that has history and tradition within U.S. Soccer. It’s a competition that I, myself, have been able to play in years and years ago. I know my friends in L.A. who played for a club there called Maccabi AC who ended up winning, like, five U.S. Open Cups give me stick because they say, ‘You’re still not close to us.’ There’s a lot of history in that tradition and I think it’s important to maintain the history. Certainly the FA Cup in England is a standard-bearer and not many countries’ cup competition can compare to that. It’s something that I think we can continue to grow. I think it’s something that provides that link to soccer throughout the history of United States’ Soccer and I would hate to see us throw that away.”
Pregame: It's a cloudy, but not yet rainy -- afternoon here at CentryLink Field a couple of hours before today's U.S. Open Cup final between the Sounders and Chicago Fire. Kickoff is 7 p.m. The game will be shown on Fox Soccer, the usual radio outlets, and we'll have updates here and on Twitter/donruiztnt. And, as always, the more the merrier in terms of your comments through either media.
The gates haven't opened as I write this, but as of now, there is a very odd seating configuration, as the entire lower bowl and Hawks nest is open, along with what seems to be one row of the east-side upper deck -- the side that faces the cameras -- and about five rows of the west-side upper deck.
The Open Cup record attendance is 31,311 -- set in the final in Seattle last year. But that record won't survive the night, as advance sales already are a couple of thousand or so above that number.