A Look Back at the Sounders’ U.S. Open Cup run

USOPENCUPSB1004111449

Photo by Stephen Brashear/ISIphotos.com


By JASON MITCHELL

More than the usual smattering of Rave Green gear sprinkled the streets of downtown Seattle Wednesday. A plane circled high above Lake Union in the late afternoon, trailing a 3,000 square-foot Sounders FC scarf visible from downtown to the city of Bellevue across Lake Washington. Sure signs of a soccer-crazed city celebrating another trophy.

And there was a good deal to celebrate. The first Lamar Hunt United States Open Cup three-peat since New York Greek American in 1969, sure. But more than that, a record-breaking 35,615 in attendance to watch the victory, one that qualifies the Sounders for the 2012-2013 CONCACAF Champions League. The end of a hectic and historic two-month stretch that saw the Sounders go 12-2-2 in all competitions, winning the Cascadia and U.S. Open Cups and defeating Monterrey — in Mexico — in the process. And perhaps most importantly, the promise of more good things to come. As a champagne-soaked Kasey Keller said late Tuesday night, "We're not done yet."

Looking forward, the Sounders are in the MLS playoffs for the third time in three years. They still have a slim shot at the Supporters' Shield, trailing the Los Angeles Galaxy by seven points. The Galaxy have two games remaining, the Sounders three. Not likely, but not impossible, either. In CCL play, Seattle hosts Monterrey on Oct. 18 in its lone remaining midweek match. The Sounders have already qualified for next spring's quarterfinals and can win its group outright with a win or tie.

But that's all in the future. First, here's a look back at Seattle's historic Open Cup run:

June 28 – Seattle 2, Kitsap Pumas (PDL) 1; Starfire Sports Complex, Tukwila, Wash.

The Sounders' little brothers from just across the water held tough for most of the first-half before forward Mike Fucito banged in a volley in the 39th minute. Leading a group of reserves, Fucito added a second goal in the 62nd minute, dancing around a defender in the box before finishing strong with his right foot.

Current Sounders backup goalkeeper and 2011 draft pick Bryan Meredith started this match for Kitsap. Seattle drafted Meredith out of Monmouth in January, but released him after a trial. The Pumas picked him up, but Meredith continued to train with Seattle and the Sounders signed him to the first team after shutting down Terry Boss (concussion) for the season.

July 13 – Seattle 3, Los Angeles Galaxy 1, Starfire Sports Complex

It was a rare good night against the nemesis from California. Seattle, just 1-5-2 against the Galaxy in three seasons of league play, knocked Los Angeles out of the Open Cup for the second straight year.

Both teams fielded mixed sides, but Landon Donovan and Fredy Montero provided plenty of star power in tiny Starfire. Montero, Nate Jaqua, and the nascent Lamar Neagle all scored as the Sounders cruised out of the quarterfinals for the fifth straight year (the USL Sounders advanced in 2007 and 2008).

It wasn't necessarily enough to avenge last season's refund-inducing 4-0 thrashing. Or to get even for eliminating the Sounders from the 2010 playoffs. But a bit of redemption to be sure.

Aug. 20 – Seattle 1, FC Dallas 0, Starfire Sports Complex

The possibility of making Open Cup history seemed much more realistic after topping a tough and feisty Dallas team in the semifinals. Seattle dominated early, but Dallas played the second half with desperate abandon and repeatedly threatened late.

Fredy Montero nearly scored a first-half hat trick, but only converted once, ripping a left-footed shot past goalkeeper Kevin Hartman in the 40th minute.

Dallas would hit the frame while launching nine second-half shots, but Seattle's defenders did brilliant work neutralizing Brek Shea, who was in great form in the weeks before his breakout national team matches.

Oct. 4 – Seattle 2, Chicago Fire 0, CenturyLink Field

The rain sprinkling down from late afternoon into the early evening might have foreshadowed a Seattle kind of night. But the Fire did not cede easily in a back-and-forth tussle featuring two teams going after the game and two stingy goalkeepers denying shot after shot. Forwards for both sides consistently tracked back to their own end lines before sprinting the length of the field in attack, towing midfielders and defenders in support.

Poor passing from the Fire on the wet FieldTurf let Seattle control possession, but without Mauro Rosales (still recovering from an MCL tear) Seattle's trademark interior passing and interchanging never clicked. The Sounders did start to find space wide late, and CenturyLink Field physically rocked after Montero finally broke the tense deadlock just before the 80th minute. Momentum swung the Sounders' way, and a composed Osvaldo Alonso iced the title with a brilliant insurance goal in the last minute of stoppage time.

A great match from both sides, but a deserved win for the Sounders. A healthy Sebastian Grazzini –limited to about 10 minutes because of a hamstring injury — surely would have helped the Fire. 

———————-

What did you think of the Sounders' Open Cup run?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in MLS- Seattle Sounders, MLS: A Look Back, U.S. Open Cup. Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to A Look Back at the Sounders’ U.S. Open Cup run

  1. Paul says:

    Have ‘em play on the road once in a while, eh?

  2. mikey says:

    Does that apply to DC United too, who have a home game streak twice as long as the Sounders? Funny it wasn’t a problem before…

  3. vincent says:

    I think that the sounders are a very good team, but their 3-peat run is tainted because they played every single game of this tournament (and last?) at home. I don’t see how that was permitted.

    Financial considerations at some point need to be put to the side when we’re talking about a historic tournament. Did that New York Greek American team get to play every game at home? What would the result have been if Seattle and LA played in LA? What would the result have been if the championship was at Toyota Park? I just think it delegitimizes their accomplishments. It’s kind of parallel to baseball and performance-enhancers _in that_ we can’t really compare McGwire to Babe Ruth because the situations were too different. Now, I’m afraid, we can’t say too much about Seattle’s run.

    Great for them.. Great money, too, I’m sure. But the tournament, in my mind, is diminished.

  4. lassidawg says:

    That would be fine they almost play better on the road because teams aren’t as likely to pack it in and play for a tie. road record this year in MLS 8-3-5 home 8-3-4.

    It is the system they took advantage, this is the only of the 3 they played all at home. Last year they had to play in Portland. The first one they won in DC.

    Get your team to step up and they might have to do so. I

  5. mistadobolina says:

    why was the LA-SEA game played in WA? wasn’t LA a higher seed or ranked team?

    congrats to Seattle on an championship run

  6. vincent says:

    And, I’ll add. Insofar as we care about the long-term viability of the Open Cup tournament, MLS has done it a disservice. I grant the tournament hasn’t received the appreciation it rightly deserves, but I think die-hard fans recognize its value; and so, with the growth of MLS, I think, we would see the growth of the Open Cup.

    But now all of that is in jeopardy. For the sake of immediate financial gain, the management have compromised the integrity of the tournament. That, I believe, is truly short-sighted.

    I, for one, will be much less invested in the tournament going forward unless the rules are changed… and fast.

    (Full disclosure: I admit I’m a Fire fan and so really upset now… but still, this goes beyond that. It was also unfair the Fire got to play at home in the semi’s. The entire tournament is just an unfair hot mess.)

  7. Good Morning Whiners says:

    Once again…beating the dead horse. We get it, you just don’t like playing at the Clink/Starfire. What happened when DC “bought” the tourney? Who won that final again? Where were you then?

  8. Tisha says:

    How is it diminished when the Sounders followed the rules of the tournament? Any team could have bid just like the Sounders but they chose not to.

    We could say that Chicago’s trip to the final was diminished because New York Red Bull’s sent a baby team without their head coach. But I won’t say it because Chicago played the game in front of them and won fairly.

  9. Michael says:

    Everyone should calm down, the reports are that there’s going to be considerable changes to the Open next year, both in amount of MLS teams involved and in site selection.

  10. vincent says:

    It’s diminished, in part, because the rules are unfair. In the same way that if women weren’t allowed to run for political office an elected candidates victory would be diminished. Even if that elected candidate followed all the rules––because the rules themselves were unfair.

    Obviously, in sports, we have a rather high standard of fairness and, for me, its clear the Open Cup doesn’t live up to those standards. We don’t let the Bulls play every game at home just because the sell more tickets.

    As for your other comment. I think, to an extent, the tournament is in fact also diminished when teams don’t field their first team. That seems obvious to me. If everyone did what New York did, no one would care about the tourney. So yes, that hurts it.

    That, however, is probably something we can’t control. As the tourney grows in popularity and value, we can assume teams will stop doing that. Rules regarding where games are played, though, can and should be changed immediately. Otherwise, I’ll start hoping/asking/demanding the Fire send their B-team to the tourney too.

  11. Yadonsoccer says:

    I still don’t get why everyone is banging on about the Sounders playing at home. Even if they went to a seeded tournament wouldn’t Seattle be #1 and get home game priority as holders?

    Its funny because the Sounders bring fans to the cup. It helps expand it because the club, fans and especially the players take it seriously. If your club doesn’t make an issue with your FO, not ours.

    Say it wasn’t real or that it is less legitimate, they won it and are holders. Hopefully your club works harder next time! Now the Sounders have more trophies to claim this year.

  12. k says:

    Nobody cares that DCU has played 17 strait home games in this tournement because the reporters want their beloved east coast teams to win. Of course DCU couldn’t win even with the home field advantage. Now everyone complains and demands change and why?

    1. Because the Sounders have won it and everyone is jealous of the Sounders success.

    2. Everyone now knows what the Open Cup is thanks to the Shounders having won it in front of 35,000 fans on live telecasts instead of in front of 5,000 fans with a news article on page 17.

    But don’t worry, the Sounders will win again while playing on the road just like they did the first two years they won the cup.

  13. Rastafari says:

    The US open Cup isn’t played in Canada

  14. andrewdiceway says:

    +1

  15. soccerroo says:

    Was a great run for Seattle. The last tow games were great to watchAlthough it would be nice for every team to have to play a couple of aways games I can not fault Seattle for getting the home games. They have a great crowd at the games and fans who are worth spending the money on to bring this tournament to Seattle.

    I am an FCD fan and though I hate that we lost to Seattle. The atmospher of the game was better up their then it would have been at Pizza Hut Park.

  16. Tastes_Like_Victory says:

    Whatever your opinion of the USOC, the Sounders and Seattle have got people talking about the tournament again. Shame on your organization if they dont feel hoisting a cup and earning a spot in the CCL isnt a priority. Also, the argument against Seattle playing *ll their games at home over the last three years (which isnt true) and that it somehow invalidates this is silly. Seattle has consistently been one of the best road teams in the league since they joined MLS.

    Jealousy is a stinky cologne. Demand more from your club.

  17. Kejsare says:

    They played 4 games at home, and 4 MLS teams would have needed to play 7 games just to reach the final like Seattle. Does that sound fair? Open? worthwhile for MLS teams to gamble on winning 7 straight? These are single elimination games, not regular season games that end at 90. Do you risk putting out starters that may have to be ready in three days for another game and played 120 minutes? This is why the play-in teams don’t invest much in it until they’re in the Round of 16. Some [NYRB] mailed it around that time too.

  18. Kejsare says:

    Jealousy? Unfairness because USSF is being used as a vehicle for the Sounders to get more money. Don’t believe me? DC played 17 home matches in a row. I think it’s become a firestorm now because people are finally educated on how the matter is decided. Thank you Simon Borg for hammering away the bids are blind.

    It finally now reached a boiling point.

    Good luck winning on the road. Even the D2 Timbers took you to a shootout once.

  19. Kejsare says:

    Like demanding why D2 or D3 teams have fewer games to play to reach the final than do a few MLS teams?

  20. Kejsare says:

    DC took it as a cash grab too. Just that Simon Borg didn’t hammer away to the public it was blind bid. Just like all national discussions, sometimes these complaints took a while for a strong chorus of complaints to get louder. Maybe I should go back and read the Sounders complaints about DC hosting it?

  21. FAN says:

    What a bunch of Whiney @$$ed vagina’s. Great job Seattle. Even if you guys played on the road, I bet ya’ll would’ve won. Seeing how you guys have tremendous road record in the League and in CCL. Hopefully, LA can step up and take your dominance in USOC. I also, want to applaud Chicago for their run. USOC should be bigger and Seattle is setting the example… Even if your pitch sort of sucks. Sorry, had to get that one in.

  22. emo says:

    But your comments come off as blaming the Sounders (“their victory is tainted”) when your complaint is with US Soccer.

    Steve Davis has a nice post on his DailySoccerFix that says A) Sounders are deserving champs and B) the system needs to be fixed.
    Both are true, and your failing to credit A) makes you sound like a sore loser.

  23. lassidawg says:

    The Sounders have always taken the tournament seriously, so it really isn’t anything new other than educating the newer fans. They took advantage of the rules when they were in the USL and played games at Qwest, the only difference now is they are a better team and should win those game at home.

    The Sounders are taking advantage of the rules, but they have also called for the rules to be changed. The GM has said if there is bidding it should be an open process so everyone knows what needs to be done to get a game.

    This isn’t the FA CUP and can’t be run the same way, because most games in the open cup require some distance to travel, especially for the west coast teams.

    2 ways to stop them from hosting-Win a bid and win a game.

  24. RBJ says:

    @FAN, I’m a Sounders Supporter, and our pitch is terrible, there is talk that FieldTurf said it would last 5 yrs, it’s been 2! It’s awful, and will be replaced after the Seahawks season. (hopefully at a discount… it’s really terrible)

  25. k says:

    thanks for agreeing with my post, yes DC played 17 home matches in a row and yes because of the Sounders now everyone is educated and yes we played the Timbers on the road and beat them.

  26. Charles says:

    These games are for the fans. The Seattle fans care the most…and because of that they host more ( not all by any means )games.

    I realize that is unfair to VERY diehard MLS fans of teams that do not draw, we have all sat in our fair share of unattended games, but what do you want the USOC to do ?

    This is hardly the first time sports have been “unfair” in the name of money. LOTS of money. Probably around $1 million worth the ticket sales compared to virtually nothing two years ago.

  27. Charles says:

    I didn’t mean to just put MLS diehard fans in there. Obviously I was rooting for a USL team in the semis for 2007 and 2008.

  28. Tastes_Like_Victory says:

    No, like demanding that your club get wins on the road against teams who arent in last place in their division. As far as USOC, win your games regardless of how many there are.

    Crying about not making it into the tourney because of ‘too many games’ is typical Portland excuse making. We hold trophies, you hold wood. Get over it.

  29. Seattle Sunshine says:

    Ha! A Portland fan wishing us luck on the road? Priceless. You’re combined GD for wins on the road is +2.

  30. Gnarls says:

    Sure you were. ;)

  31. Knuckles says:

    To claim it’s not fair is to act like the tournament is somehow designed to favor of Seattle. It’s not. These are the rules that all of soccer has had to deal with for years now. It’s biased in favor of clubs that are willing to shell out the cash to host. Is it ridiculous? Yes. Does it need to change? Yes. But at the same time, USSF needs to be able to fund the tournament.

  32. JJ says:

    If it’s unfair for everybody, doesn’t that make it fair?

  33. Fabel says:

    A lot of blame placed on front offices for either doing what they can to win a bid or not doing what they can to win a bid. How about some personal pride? Attend a game once in a while and give your FO a reason and some money to win a bid. Damn. And blame the SSFC FO for putting earnings back into things that benefit their fans? That’s just lazy.

  34. sammysounder74 says:

    Playing every game at home “diminishes the victory” less than the MLS Cup is diminished by the fact that whoever makes it out of East is unlikely to face any of the top FOUR MLS teams until the final. Plus, we beat Kitsap, LA and Dallas to make it to the final as opposed to Rochester, Charleston and NYRB.

    That said, I agree that the structure should be changed, but to completely ignore financial constraints is silly. If anything, the tournament needs more money involved to draw advertisers and make hosting a game at Charleston or Kitsap viable.

    We should make a better situation, but until we do I’ll tell you what DC was telling us before the ’09 final . . . . quit whining and tell your FO to make a better bid next year.

  35. sammysounder74 says:

    Those are the exact same rules we played by. New York “mailed it in” because they don’t have the depth to compete in multiple competitions.

  36. Micj says:

    Chicago put in Grazzini far too late

  37. ryan says:

    Seattle played at Portland in the US Open Cup twice, in 2009 and 2010. We won the Cup those years (meaning we had to win a game on the road against our biggest rivals), so to host every game this year I think was warranted.

  38. Kejsare says:

    NASL Sounders had trophies?

  39. pdublu says:

    We can thank the Sounders for helping to shine a light on Open Cup issues. I’m not so certain that the bid process should change, unless US Soccer is willing to devote its own resources, or those of major sponsors, to promoting games in all markets. As cool as the Open Cup may be–and who doesn’t want to see another USL or NASL team reach the final next year?–it takes money to create excitement about these games over the long haul. And that means risk. The Sounders FO takes the risk, and the team makes the win.

    But it can’t go on. There will one day, like next year probably, be an Open Cup final that is devoid of rave green. You better believe that the Seattle FO will be pissed and laying the groundwork for a comeback before the whistle blows, which is the kind of attention this very old and interesting tournament really benefits from.