2010 Oct 5

Sounders FC repeat as USOC champions: Nyassi scores a brace

Seattle Sounders FC  2 - 1  Columbus Crew

Qwest Field, Seattle, WA

24' CBS: Kevin Burns (Steven Lenhart, Frankie Hejduk)
38' SEA: Sanna Nyassi (Nathan Sturgis)
66' SEA: Sanna Nyassi (Steve Zakuani)

Seattle: Kasey Keller; Tyson Wahl, Patrick Ianni, Jeff Parke, James Riley; Steve Zakuani (Roger Levesque 90'), Osvaldo Alonso, Nathan Sturgis, Sanna Nyassi (Alvaro Fernandez 79'); Fredy Montero (Nate Jaqua 90'), Blaise Nkufo. Substitutes not used: Terry Boss, Zach Scott, Tyrone Marshall, Mike Seamon.

Columbus: Andy Gruenebaum; Shaun Francis, Andy Iro, Chad Marshall, Frankie Hejduk; Kevin Burns (Emilio Renteria 77'), Emmanuel Ekpo, Brian Carroll, Eddie Gaven (Robbie Rogers 81'); Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Steven Lenhart (Andres Mendoza 77'). Substitutes not used: William Hesmer, Eric Brunner, Gino Padula, Adam Moffat.

Match report from Ron Stickney:

Sanna Nyassi was the surprising hero, scoring twice to lead the Seattle Sounders FC to a successful defense of the US Open Cup at home over the Columbus Crew. Kevin Burns scored first to put the Crew ahead, and they were prevented from tying it up late by the crossbar.

The Sounders became the first team since 1983 to win back to back US Open Cup titles. The New York Pancyprian Freedoms accomplished the feat back then.

The prestige of the tournament was boosted by a record shattering attendance of 31,311. The previous record was 21,583 at a title match between New York Hakoah and Madison Kennel Club in 1929. The MLS record was 19,146 in 2000 when the Chicago Fire hosted the Miami Fusion.

With the Cup win the Sounders became the first team to qualify for the 2011-12 CONCACAF Champions League, where they will be able to apply the lessons they were taught in this year's CCL play.

The match started with a great chance for Seattle's Fredy Montero, an open header from close in the second minute, and he headed it down but within reach of goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum. A minute later Montero sizzled a 25-yard shot up the middle and inches over the bar.

Columbus had their first chance at 4' when Emmanuel Ekpo's cross/shot from the right arced within a foot of the top far corner with Kasey Keller studying it intently.

Steve Zakuani had his first chance to beat Columbus right back Frankie Hejduk at 6' and earned a cross from the bye line, but Blaise Nkufo could only poke it to Gruenebaum.

A quarter hour in Zakuani powered past a few defenders and dished to Montero for his third try, and Gruenebaum saved low.

At 20' a Columbus throw-in caught the Sounders napping as Ekpo ran in to center a diagonal drop pass to Steven Lenhart, but he wasted the chance yards over the bar.

24' CBS: Burns (Lenhart, Hejduk). After the Crew had kept the momentum for a few minutes, they opened their account with a nice string of passes. Ekpo on the right sent the ball ahead to Guillermo Barros Schelotto, who first-touch passed it ahead for Hejduk. Hejduk entered the penalty area and centered the ball to Lenhart, who turned and dished a short pass to Burns, who slotted his shot between two charging defenders and past Keller into the lower far corner. 1-0 Columbus.

38' SEA: Nyassi (Sturgis). Tyson Wahl's cross from the left went to the 18-yard line where Gruenebaum just managed to punch it away from Nyassi, but weakly. The ball went to Nathan Sturgis and, pressured by Schelotto, he knocked it forward to Nyassi, past Eddie Gaven. Nyassi thankfully turned and powered a right-footed shot low past the diving Gruenebaum, who had not made it back to his line. 1-1.

Columbus had the early chance in the second half when a cross from Shaun Francis was headed just wide of the near post by Lenhart.

On the hour mark, Seattle came close when Zakuani was sprung on the left and carried the ball inside the goal area, where tried to go past Gruenebaum but got stymied.

A few minutes later Gaven tried from 25 yards and forced Keller's only save of the match.

66' SEA: Nyassi (Zakuani). The match winner came when Montero crossed a nice ball for Zakuani's far-post run. Zakuani beat Hejduk easily and tried to chip a header over Gruenebaum, but it hit the crossbar squarely as the keeper retreated and stabbed vainly at the ball, ending up in the net. Nyassi ran past Andy Iro and was wide open to put the rebound away with his left foot from a few yards before Gruenebaum could climb out of the goal. The shot actually hit Gruenebaum while he was still on the wrong side of the goal line. 2-1 Seattle.

Lenhart soon had a chance to level the score when he was fed in the arc, turned, and sent a low shot a yard wide.

Then Seattle's defense worked hard to defend the lead. Osvaldo Alonso, then Nyassi, took yellow cards with tactical fouls. Wahl cleared a dangerous free kick for a corner, then he broke up a dangerous cross from Hejduk with Keller mopping up the leftovers. Another dangerous cross from Hejduk was headed away by James Riley.

Columbus came oh so close at 85' when a low cross to the penalty spot was rocketed onto the crossbar by substitute Robbie Rogers. Columbus did not get as lucky with the rebound off the bar as Seattle had 20 minutes earlier. That was the last good chance as Seattle successfully killed off the remaining five plus three minutes.

After the match almost the entire crowd stayed as runner-up and champion medals were handed out to the teams and the Cup was hoisted. Actually, there were two Cups being hoisted, as apparently a new Cup is built each year.

The Sounders next turn their attention back to league play, where they can clinch a playoff spot with a draw or better at Kansas City on Saturday.

          SEA  CBS
Shots:     12   10
Saves:      1    5
Corners:    6    2
Fouls:     11   10
Offsides:   0    0

23' SEA: Riley cautioned for a tactical foul after turning the ball over
28' CBS: Francis cautioned for a tactical foul on Sturgis
41' CBS: Carroll cautioned for a tactical foul on Zakuani
74' SEA: Alonso cautioned for a tactical foul
75' SEA: Nyassi cautioned for a tactical foul
87' CBS: Schelotto cautioned for a tactical foul on Zakuani

Referees: Michael Kennedy; Thomas Supple, Paul Scott; Ricardo Salazar

Attendance: 31, 311

Postmatch Quotes

Seattle Sounders FC

Head Coach Sigi Schmid

General comments: "I'm very, very proud of these guys. I'm happy that Sanna didn't make me wait two years for his next goal. They're a good team. I thought it was a good game throughout with two good teams playing against each other. I thought there was some good soccer that was played by both teams. We caught a break at the end when they hit the crossbar. You work hard to make your own luck. We showed a lot of character going down 1-0 and coming back. Attitude of our team has been very strong that way. Really proud and what we accomplished tonight is super. It sets us apart and makes us unique and this is the kind of franchise when Adrian, Joe, Drew and Tod Leiweke and the rest of the internal ownership group and everyone else who works at this organization wanted us to be something unique, something special, something different. The fans were fantastic. That's the loudest I've heard this place. Nobody left at the end of the game. A lot of times you see celebrations at the end of the game where the stadium is half empty, everyone was there for the cup presentation. I can't say enough about our fans. They're just fantastic."

On winning Open Cup in the first two years of the franchise: "Always hope so. We hoped that it could happen fast and we had the opportunity. I know there's teams out there that say they don't take the Open Cup seriously, but if you're not going to take something seriously, then don't enter. For us, we're in the competition and we're in the competition to do our best and to win it and we've been able to do that. It does stand us out, but we've worked hard to get there."

On full team contribution: "Everybody played a role and everybody played a part. Today, because of too many foreigners, we couldn't play Leo, but everyone scored a goal somewhere along the line or had involvement in scoring a goal or had a stop or made a good play in midfield. It shows the depth of our roster. What our team went through at the beginning of the season where we played some good soccer and didn't get the results. Having had to go through that has made us a better team because you have to go through some adversity sometimes to grow. I think that is what has allowed us to believe that we can come back in games like that. Between the Champions League games, even though we haven't done as well there, it has really allowed our roster confidence. Between the Open Cup and Champions League everyone has had a role and participated and that has made us a good team."

On building off this for rest of season: "The feeling you have right now and the memory you carry away from this game has to spur them on to create another memory like this. Tomorrow we won't practice, but after that get back to work. When I was coaching the Galaxy, we won the MLS Cup on a Saturday and had to play the Crew in the Open Cup final on a Thursday. We never got to fly home and the guys were still probably hungover going into the game. We have to get focused again and have to get on with it. Once you have this taste in your mouth, you want to do it again."

On the Columbus Crew: "He's [Robert Warzycha] a good coach and they came out more tactically disciplined. They sat back a little bit and really tried to double-team Zakuani and tried to drop Gavin in on Sanna. They tried to double team our wing play. Our guys are pretty good, so they still got it. We talked about it at halftime, about different ways to free them up a little bit because for us wing play is very important. I knew they would come with extra forwards in the end with four up front and two in midfield and push the issue. He's a good coach and they're a good team. Understanding them a little bit certainly helps, but they understand us too."

On comparing to other championship wins: "I never compare them, every one is great. Losing motivates me to work harder and winning is what motivates me to keep going day after day. When you win, you don't want to compare them. I just feel very blessed and very fortunate in my years of coaching that I have had great players that have allowed me to win some championships because I can't go out there and kick a ball. They have to go out there and kick a ball. Those guys in the locker room are the ones who deserve it and they should all be sitting here right now."

Adrian Hanauer - General Manager

On winning the Open Cup: "It feels great. It feels tremendous. Obviously an amazing night. The weather, the fans, just the atmosphere and then to get the win, it's a great feeling."

On celebrating at Qwest Field: "It is fantastic and our fans deserve it. They stick with us 32,000 strong and they are still with us. We felt like we owed it to them."

On the Open Cup: "We like any competition and hopefully we build that culture. The guys want to win anytime they go on the field."

On Sanna Nyassi: "Very. Obviously it started last week against Toronto and to get a couple of goals tonight, huge, huge goals, couldn't be happier for him. He is supposed to fly in the morning to Gambia so I'm sure that flight will be a lot nicer."

Sanna Nyassi

On scoring goals: "Yeah, it's a good feeling tonight. After breaking the deadlock the other day the chances came tonight and I made sure I finished both of them. Victory for us. We set a record in history, the first [MLS] team to win the trophy twice in a row. Good feeling."

On his confidence: "My confidence keeps growing after scoring two goals tonight. I make sure that I continue working hard at training. Make sure that I do a lot of finishing at training. Whenever the chances come I make sure that I take them."

Kasey Keller

On winning the Open Cup: "I have been fortunate enough to be on the winning podium but I have also had the disappointment of being on the losing side. Obviously commiserations to Columbus. It's not a fun thing to be a part of. But tremendous for our fans to be able to experience this. We were obviously extremely disappointed last year not being able to host this thing and having to win it in D.C. So to be able to come back here and win it in front of our home fans, set a new record of attendance, shows how good this team is. It's so important. This competition was won by a whole squad. We made wholesale changes throughout the competition and those guys, it didn't matter what team was on the field. They stepped up and showed the pride for the club to come out and win every time. And that's not so with a lot of teams in the league. Credit to the squad. Credit to the team. And just, what a great night."

On comeback victories: "It shows great character. Early on in the season when we conceded a goal it kind of looked like we were over and done with. We have a lot of pride at the moment that we don't feel like we are going to lose. We can go a goal down and we can come back and we can win things. We could've won this thing more comfortably. In the end, the width of the crossbar saved us a little bit. But that's the way the game goes. We got the win. I'm just very proud of the way we just keep fighting now. I mean throughout the whole game it just shows you that we are in good form and we got four league games left to finish this thing off and get us in great position for the playoffs."

Steve Zakuani

On winning the Open Cup: "Amazing. Look at this. Amazing. Dream come true. We played well. Came back from behind against a good team. I'm happy for Sanna, too. Great win."

On not losing in Open Cup: "We have to win. We just have to win...Big game today...We have made history back to back. It's amazing."

On repeating as champions: "It's better. To repeat is much tougher. And winning at home is amazing. It's a great night."

On comeback victory: "We are playing great. We played fantastic tonight."

Patrick Ianni

On winning the Open Cup: "It feels great right now. To do it in front of the home fans, it's indescribable. I don't have words to put it into."

On winning at home: "Way different feeling in front of our home fans. We had maybe 300 last year and then they all showed up at the airport as well, which was a very special feeling. I'll never forget. This I'll definitely never forget. Unbelievable."

On comeback victory: "I don't know exactly. I know we fight really hard. We keep going like we have to. I think it shows a lot of character and we are going to need that down the stretch here. You can go down in a game but it's a 90 minute game so you have to keep fighting."

On going down a goal: "You're bummed but you still have got 60 minutes and we have got a lot of talented players on our team. I knew that we would get one and once we got one, it would come again. Sanna did a great job finishing his chances tonight. Obviously made all of us happy, all 30,000 of us here."

Columbus Crew

Head Coach Robert Warzycha

On his impressions from the match: "We limited Seattle to few chances today. If you look at the first five minutes they had momentum but we scored a goal. They really possessed the ball side to side. They scored right before the half and that hurt a lot. In the second half we attacked very well, and they only had a few chances. The second goal just came out of nowhere."

On adjusting to Seattle speed on offense: "They have a tremendous amount of speed on the wings. Steve Zakuani is a fast guy and we don't have someone who can keep up. We had to bring someone on over and double team him."

On the two goals Seattle scored: "The first one Andy punched the ball and it ended at Seattle and we didn't apply pressure right away and he got a free shot. The second one Zakuani got in behind us and was able to get a shot off. Nyassi was able to get the deflection and put a shot right on in. That second goal came from nowhere."

On being able to doing anything differently: "Scored some more goals. Sometimes you have to get some luck we didn't get today."

On starting Andy Gruenebaum today: "Whether it is the U.S. Open Cup or MLS match we feel confident in starting Andy. He did well today."

On getting his team prepared for their next match: "Win or lose, that is the last game of the tournament. We have to focus on our next match and the playoffs. We are disappointed to lose the final but we are mentally strong."

On the atmosphere at Qwest Field affecting his team: "It is nice to play in front of your own crowd. The crowd feels like you have an extra player on the field and for Seattle they have a great crowd."

Kevin Burns

On starting out strong and getting an early lead: "It was a good start, anytime you get up one-zero. There was still a lot to be played. Seattle is a good team and playing in front of a great crowd. It is sometimes just the way it goes. After the second goal is when we got worried."

Andy Gruenebaum

On his impressions from the match: "We knew it was going to be a tough place to play, their fan base is great. Anytime you have a championship match on your own pitch, the odds are going to be against you. We knew we had to defend and take advantage of any opportunity. We came out and scored the first goal and they were able to capitalize on two weird bounces."