On Tuesday night at Century Link Field in front of a record crowd of 35,615, history was made when Seattle Sounders won their third US Open Cup in a row and showed why they have dominated this tournament since their promotion to MLS from their days down in the USL 1st Division (formerly Division 2 of US Club Soccer).
It was a scoreless first half as both sides gave their opposing keepers tons of problems in the penalty areas, but somehow both Sean Johnson and Kasey Keller were able to shine. The real scare for the Fire came in the second minute of first half stoppage time as Fredy Montero ripped a hard shot that nailed the post and sailed away.
Second half got off to a flying start and both sides looking hungry to get that elusive first goal of the match. In the 53rd minute Michael Fucito had an excellent chance to be cheeky, as he chipped Johnson who came off his line, but the ball hit the near post and away.
But finally the goal came for the Sounders as they continued to pepper Sean Johnson every single time they had possession. In the 77th minute the Fire’s defense helped out their keeper after all the saves he made and finally cleared the ball away.
But in the back end of that minute the goal came from a rebound off a set piece. Seattle sent a corner from the far side into the Chicago area and a great header from Fucito forced a save by Johnson, but lurking for the rebound was Montero and he put the Sounders ahead.
The Fire never gave up after allowing that goal. They continued to put on pressure trying to find a way to get that equalizer and somehow get into extra time. Sadly for Chicago the final nail in their coffin would be in sixth minute of second half stoppage time.
The man who has scored clutch goals time after time for the Sounders is Osvaldo (Ozzie) Alonso and when he faked out his defender along with the keeper, he was able to convert his tally into an open net and that was the end of the 2011 US Open Cup season.
Give a lot of credit to Frank Klopas and the Chicago Fire for having a fantastic run that started in US Open Cup Qualifying and got them into their sixth final, but sadly not equaling the five cup championship level with Bethlehem Steel or Los Angeles Maccabi SC.
For the Seattle Sounders they have won their third consecutive US Open Cup championship that matches the same feat made by Stix, Baer and Fuller/St. Louis Central Breweries (same club, different name) from 1933 thru 1935 and the New York Greek American Atlas from 1967 thru 1969.
This being Kasey Keller’s last season in MLS, it looks like his swan song has started very well for him and let’s see what this side can do in the MLS Cup Playoffs. But for the US Open Cup that has played in its 98th tournament, this was a historical one as two great sides played their hearts out and made it proud.