2011 Aug 30

Sounders lone goal against FC Dallas wins the US Open Cup semifinal

Seattle Sounders FC  1 - 0  FC Dallas
Starfire Stadium, Tukwila, WA

40' SEA: Fredy Montero (Alvaro Fernandez)

Seattle: Kasey Keller; Zach Scott, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez; Mauro Rosales, Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Alvaro Fernandez (Lamar Neagle 84'), Fredy Montero (James Riley 90'), Pat Noonan (Mike Fucito 66').
Substitutes not used: Josh Ford, Tyson Wahl, Erik Friberg, Nate Jaqua.

Dallas: Kevin Hartman; Jair Benitez (Jack Stewart 89'), Jeremy Hall, Ugo Ihemelu, Andrew Jacobson; Brek Shea, Daniel Hernandez, Daniel Cruz (George John 46'), Marvin Chavez; Ricardo Villar (Jackson 64'), Maicon Santos.
Substitutes not used: Chris Seitz, Bobby Warshaw, Victor Ulloa, Andrew Wiedeman.

Match report from Ron Stickney:

Seattle Sounders FC earned their chance at a third straight US Open Cup with a 1-0 win at Starfire over FC Dallas. As expected, it was a hard fought match with tough defense and it took a brilliant goal to win it. That goal came from Fredy Montero.

Both sides put out the strongest lineup they could, and both sides were weary from playing their sixth match in 18 days. Both now get a rest for more than a week.

The other USOC semifinal was won by the Chicago Fire, 2-1 over the Richmond Kickers. The final will be played on Oct 4 at CLink Field in Seattle.

Seattle had the early chances in the match. Brad Evans was open for a header in front of goal from Montero's cross at 3' but sent it right up the middle to goalkeeper Kevin Hartman. Evans was open again at 21' in front of goal, fed by a cross from Mauro Rosales, and skied the shot. A minute later Pat Noonan tried a quick turn and shoot from a throw-in play and missed the top far corner by a yard. Rosales had a chance when a Seattle corner kick was kept alive and he missed the far post.

Dallas wide midfielder Brek Shea switched sides a couple of times, avoiding Zach Scott on the left only to find equally challenging defense from Leo Gonzalez on the right side. Dallas' first good shot came on a 35-yard free kick up the middle at 36', taken by Daniel Hernandez and rocketed a half foot over the top corner.

Montero nearly scored on an open bicycle attempt from 8 yards after Noonan and Rosales worked to develop the cross. The shot went inches wide and would have been a stunner if it had gone in.

40' SEA: Montero (Fernandez). Seattle's goal was a beauty. On a Seattle counterattack, Alvaro Fernandez fed the ball to Montero at the top of the arc. He feinted right to shake Ugo Ihemelu, then curled a left-footer around Hartman and into the top left corner. 1-0 Seattle.

Seattle had a couple more chances at the end of the half. Montero's cross gave Noonan a header near goal that was well defended, deflected out for a corner. Fernandez fed a rolling square cross to give Rosales his best chance 15 yards from goal, but he missed the target with open goal beckoning.

After Seattle dominated the first half, Dallas dominated the second. They nearly scored early in the half on a counter when Marvin Chavez got past Scott for a line drive that hit the near post squarely. Andrew Jacobson soon had a chance when the ball popped to him at the top of the arc, and he fired a shot a foot over the bar. At 67' Chavez tried a bicycle shot and sent it well over the bar. From then on, Seattle's defense gave few chances, and none of them were very promising until added time at the end when Kasey Keller left his line to deal with a dangerous ball and the ball found Chavez at the 18 with plenty of open goal staring at him. But Chavez skied his shot and that was the last chance.

The final minute saw Fucito bloodied from a Hernandez elbow to the face while Fucito was holding the ball in the corner to kill time. Curiously, Hernandez was not carded for the violence, but after the match he was red-carded for abusive language. Fucito needed stitches and was not the only Sounder needing medical treatment after the match. Evans reportedly suffered possible broken fingers.

          SEA  DAL
Shots:     14   16
Saves:      2    5
Corners:    4    4
Fouls:     16   14
Offsides:   3    0

12' DAL: Cruz cautioned for chopping down Montero
22' DAL: Hernandez cautioned for dissent
35' SEA: Gonzalez cautioned for a tactical foul on Shea
58' SEA: Evans cautioned for a reckless tackle
63' DAL: Villar cautioned for a late tackle on Gonzalez
63' DAL: Santos cautioned for tripping Gonzalez

Referees: Hilario Grajeda; Mike Rottersman, Paul Scott; Jeff Hosking

Attendance: 4,593

Postmatch Quotes

Seattle Sounders FC

Sigi Schmid - Head Coach

On the win and going to the U.S. Open Cup Final: "Obviously we scored a good goal. It was a great goal by Freddy Montero. I thought in the first half we were the better team - we had more chances. In the second half they were more aggressive, they played forward a little quicker, played with a little bit of desperation that we didn't always handle well and didn't really counter as well as we needed to take advantage of that. In the end we're happy with the 1-0 win. We're happy to get to our third final."

On Fredy Montero's goal: "It's been a while since he scored. I thought he was a little unlucky because he almost got on the end of another one. Obviously the bicycle kick was one that he just barely missed, so he could have three tonight with a little bit better luck."

On what winning a third U.S. Open Cup would mean to the team: "It means a lot. We always want to put trophies in there and to be a team to three-peat is something we've got to be proud of because these games are one and done. It's not like we had a bad game, let's come back next week and regroup. So, I'm very proud of what our team has done."

On the last two week stretch: "It's been great because, like I said, we've won games different ways. We've won games by scoring goals. We've won a game by playing a man down and scoring goals, and we've won games by being able to defend with a lot of resolve and win 1-0. Winning in Mexico at Monterrey was certainly a great highlight, as well."

On the level of competition in the U.S. Open Cup: "I think teams are more into the competition now because they know it brings with it an opportunity to play in the Champions League. Last year, everybody saw the notoriety that Salt Lake got from getting as far as they did in the Champions league, so everyone wants to grab a piece of that. I think the Champions League competition has increased as well in terms of its visibility in our region. As a result of that this tournament has taken on a bigger weight, as well."

On Chicago, their opponent in the U.S. Open Cup Final: "I'm not going to worry about that for a while. Obviously we had a couple of close games with them. They're a team that seems to be on a good run now ... It's taken Frank Klopas a while to change his team around a little bit and get it working the way he wanted it to work. They're going to be a dangerous team-they've got good speed, they've got some talented players."

On if he would have rather seen Richmond: "I don't care. I never worry about who we're going to play, just that we get there."

On the good defensive play of Zach Scott and Leo Gonzalez: "I thought in the first half, especially so. I though Zach did a good job on Brek and won some headers there which was really important. As a result you saw in the first half Brek switched over the other wing pretty early on. I thought Leo, as well, did a good job. Second half it wasn't as composed as I would have liked but sometimes games just take on a personality like that."

Kasey Keller

On the match: "Yeah, I feel great. We did everything we could to try and throw it away at the end, but somehow we survived. We should have been up three-nil and we almost paid the price by not taking advantage of the chances that we got. But saying that, somehow we hung on and got the win. Another great crowd here at Starfire. We keep that undefeated streak here alive and get back to play another final, which is tremendous. Great play and now we can go see a huge crowd for another Open Cup."

On playing the final at CenturyLink Field: "It'll be a big crowd, I'm sure. We're so happy, obviously. The organization has this facility to be able to bid so we get these good home games, which makes a big, big difference for us. Thanks to them and now hopefully we can reward everybody with our third in a row."

On what went wrong in the second half: "It's more than that, it's not just our defense letting down. We let them come at us. We let them. We didn't step up and put pressure on them when we should have. We relaxed and we dropped back into flat positions and we just didn't compete how we could have. And it's a shame because we had played so well for about 70 minutes and then the last 20 minutes we just stopped playing. We had some interesting calls, but in the end the result is what's important. Maybe a year and a half ago, maybe two years ago, we might have let this game slip. But right now we're in good form, we're getting those breaks when we need them - they crushed one off the post -- and you need that to get into the finals. We had that going for us today."

Fredy Montero

On returning to the Finals for the third-straight year: "It's definitely very motivating and we're all very happy. Thanking God also, because it's not every team that can experience something like that three times in a row."

On his bicycle kick that missed and his subsequent game-winning goal: "I keep working. Luckily the second one from the distant position got in and gave us a spot in the final."

On whether he felt anxious to score a goal, after a few scoreless outings: "Not really. One cannot predict when that will happen. The good thing is that the team is working united, all deserving those situations. We know that when something like that happens, it's not the end."

Alvaro Fernandez

On Fredy Montero's goal: "It was a good play in the midfield. I managed to catch the ball and noticed Fredy get position and I passed the ball. He got a very good finish on the ball and it was a great goal."

FC Dallas

Schellas Hyndman - Head Coach

On the difference makers in the game: "Montero's goal was a great goal. We had quite a few chances in the first half. We were, I think, a little bit intimidated by the whole event. I think a lot of things weren't going our way and I think we just kind of got wrapped up. But it was a great goal by Montero."

On what factors were not going FC Dallas' way: "I think we were losing a lot of possession. We weren't getting a lot of scoring opportunities. It seemed like a lot of calls were going against us. There was a lot of play going both ways, and I just didn't think we put enough pressure on them."

On whether fatigue played a factor: "I don't think our guys really had a problem with fitness, so I would hate to think that fatigue was an issue."

On his halftime changes and how that changed the game: "We went into a 4-4-2. We felt like the game wasn't in the midfield; it was a bit chippy in the midfield, so what we wanted to do was get Marvin Chavez more into the attack. I thought he really livened up and created a lot of problems for Scott. He hit the post when he went in one-on-one, and then he had a great chance to finish it there at the end of the game on pretty much an open goal. I thought that going into the 4-4-2 helped us get a little bit more balanced attack, which I think kept Seattle back a little bit more."

On Brek Shea leaving for the National Team: "He's going to be gone during the time that we're going to be taking a break. We have Tigres coming in on Saturday and then we play the following Saturday. My understanding is that Brek will meet us in New England when we arrive there."

Continued: "It's an opportunity well-deserved. He's playing extremely well. I think he's one of the best left-sided midfielders in the country. Today, it just wasn't a real easy day to get your foot on the ball."

On what he told his team: "I talked to the team and my thing was 'You know what, sometimes the ball just doesn't bounce right for you.' We had some scoring chances that we didn't convert on. I'm thinking the three games that we played against Seattle were all 1-0 games. This was a difficult game. It was a bit of a smaller field and a little bit more intimidating. [Century Link] Field, you've got 10 times more fans, but they're a bit more removed from you."

On whether the crowd was a factor, and his thoughts on the way the Open Cup is currently organized: "I think the crowd is a great motivator. For me, this is one of the best events - the Lamar Hunt Open Cup - but I'd really like to see it into a structure where it's not a bid system. A bid system is where one team will buy the games because they're bidding higher. I think 20 years ago, the college game was the same thing. It could go to the higher seeds, instead of a bid system where you're spending money, or it could be pre-determined. I think that brings out all the fairness to the event."

On how his team feels after tonight: "This is not the way we wanted to end the Open Cup, but we also are excited about having a week and a half off."

Kevin Hartman

On the difference maker tonight and his team's performance overall: "One goal. I don't know. I thought the first half, we certainly had some issues, in terms of our defensive shape and competing for second balls. I thought some of the changes we made at halftime certainly put us in a position to tie up the game. I know Marvin hit the post once. There was a play toward the end of the game when somebody had a shot from maybe four or five yards out that was blocked and then Marvin had a follow-up. I think when we didn't see either one of those go in we kind of felt like it might not be our night. You've got to give credit to Seattle. They play really well on the turf, and they compete. It's not necessarily conducive to the type of game that we like to play. But we're a team that doesn't like to give up. We're a team that continues to compete. I thought even through the 93rd minute, we were really putting them under pressure. I think that we're a team that really has ambitions and wants to win championships and unfortunately tonight we just weren't able to get the result."

On what it means to the team to lose the Open Cup semifinal: "We haven't had an opportunity to train in about two months. We've been playing a game every three days. I think that was the 16th game we've played in two months, so we're playing a game every two or three days. The extra 45 minutes in Toronto where they took away our goal and we had to start over again was another bit of adversity that we had to overcome. But I think that we keep things in perspective and hopefully the fans do as well. I think that we're in really good shape in terms of the Champions League right now. Certainly we would love to be in the championship game of the U.S. Open Cup, but we're in pretty good shape within league and now that we'll have an opportunity to kind of adjust and get Jeremy kind of situated in the right back spot. Zach might be coming back. And then you have George John, who's somebody who obviously had a weird week and get him slotted back in there, push [Andrew Jacobson] in the midfield so that we have so many guys who are competing for the second balls, which was obviously an issue in the first half."