All the hype & all the bantering between Kevin Payne of DC United & Adrian Hanauer of the Sounders was definitely worth the price of admission for this ticket as the up & comers in the Seattle Sounders took on the plentiful DC United at RFK Stadium. Many of you are well aware of the on going squabble thru the press and on the internet of who should’ve really hosted the cup final, a loud and boisterous Qwest Field or the cauldron of RFK.
Well regardless of where the final was going to be I have to say that we were all very happy of what we saw tonight on Fox Soccer Channel. This was two teams playing very strong defense every single time you saw a shot on goal or when possession changed hands at midfield. But you could see two distinctive different styles of play by both sides. DC United bringing up the ball were going for either set pieces to get their goals as well as taking long shots from outside the box. Meanwhile the Sounders were actually going along with the run of play and keeping possession. But you have to agree that the goalkeeping of Josh Wicks & Kasey Keller was spectacular in the nets to keep their respective sides in the game.
But the real problem for the DC United defense was young Colombian superstar Freddy Montero as he found ways to pick apart the United defense, but just couldn’t finish off his chances to get the Sounders that lead. In the 67th minute the Sounders would find pay dirt as they attacked the DC United net. Freddie Ljungberg would be on the far side of the field and he ripped a shot that was stopped by Wicks, but left a big rebound in front for Montero who smacks it in the net for the first goal of the match. What a great moment for the Sounders with their fans on the road at RFK as well as those back in Seattle who were celebrating, till an old and familiar foe did something rash.
After giving up the goal DC keeper Josh Wicks that use to play for the Portland Timbers of the USL-1st Division got up off the ground walked towards Montero and stomped on his stomach in anger. What happened a couple of days ago between Marc Burch & Wicks on the road in Chicago during match play sadly came back to bite him in the rear and Alex Prus after consulting his fourth official Andrew Chapin if he saw anything, walked back towards the DC net. In the 69th minute he pulled out of his back pocket the red card and Wicks exploded again. His teammates ushered him to leave the field before a fine and suspension could be issued.
Down a man and Tom Sohen forced to sub out one of his dangerous midfielders in Christian Gomez for backup keeper Milos Kocic to try and keep the deficit to one, would surrender a second goal in the 86th minute. Mr. US Open Cup Sebastien LeToux at the near side would shake off his defender and advance towards goal. A quick cross to a wide open Roger Levesque and it was two goals to nil for the Sounders and a possible dagger in the net as DC United was ready to bite the dust. Yet they would pull one back in the 89th with Clyde Simms scoring a deflection off the Sounders wall on a free kick & five minutes of stoppage time wouldn’t be enough to get into extra time as the Seattle Sounders won their first Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Championship on the road.
This was the best final that I have seen in a good long while & even though last years final showed a resilient Charleston Battery side that would never quit, exposed some holes on the DC defense and never got that second equalizer. On this night the Sounders were able to get thru. Once Montero put in that rebound chance you had a feeling this was going to be a spectacular fight to the finish, unfortunately the actions of Josh Wicks turned that idea around.
Let me make a quick observation right now. My good friend Max Bretos who has done a great job announcing MLS matches as well as other international matches on the channel said that the Sounders are the second expansion side to win the US Open Cup since the Chicago Fire in 1998. I have to slightly disagree with him, this might be considered legally an expansion side, but this club was originally a member of the USL-1st Division. They got promoted to MLS and now they are being rewarded with the fruits of their labor from a USL-1st powerhouse to an MLS side with their first trophy in US Open Cup Play.
Congratulations Seattle, you got your first title in Open Cup play and continued success in MLS.
Update: Tuesday, September 8th
For a certain poster who thought Josh Wicks stomping was an accident and is trying to tell all of us that he was trying to get to his far post and never touched Freddy Montero. Don Ruiz from The Olympian was at training when he asked Montero where did Wicks get him. “Montero answered by rolling up the right leg of his practice shorts.” Reported Ruiz ” The exact spot remained clearly marked by two blood-red scrapes along his thigh- one about 4 to 5 inches long, the other 2 to 3 inches – both looking as bright as if they had been applied by a crimson felt marker.
Freddy Montero was answering questions with the help of Taylor Graham who was interpreting. “From my side, I was trying to score a goal. I had a couple of chances and was just trying to put this away.” Said Montero “I scored the goal, I was really happy, and I was trying to get up. All of a sudden, I felt his studs in my thigh. I didn’t understand why it happened.”
Well Freddy I can tell you why, Josh Wicks still has some Portland Timbers blood in him and he is aware of that Northwest Rivalry between Seattle & Portland during the days of the A-League & USL-1st Division. So for that certain poster that assumes Montero did a dive job & pretended he got stomped I can live the link and you can keep on defending Josh Wicks for no reason.