2011 Oct 4

Sounders win third consecutive US Open Cup Championship 2-0 over Chicago Fire

Seattle Sounders FC  2 - 0  Chicago Fire
CenturyLink Field, Seattle, WA

78' SEA: Fredy Montero (Jeff Parke)
90' SEA: Osvaldo Alonso

Seattle: Kasey Keller; James Riley, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez; Alvaro Fernandez (Erik Friberg 46'), Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Lamar Neagle; Mike Fucito (Roger Levesque 90'), Fredy Montero.
Substitutes not used: Josh Ford, Tyson Wahl, Zach Scott, Nate Jaqua, Sammy Ochoa.

Chicago: Sean Johnson; Gonzalo Segares, Cory Gibbs, Josip Mikulic (Jalil Anibaba 61'), Dan Gargan (Sebastian Grazzini 85'); Marco Pappa, Pavel Pardo, Logan Pause, Daniel Paladini (Diego Chaves 80'); Dominic Oduro, Patrick Nyarko.
Substitutes not used: Jon Conway, Orr Barouch, Baggio Husidic, Michael Videira.

Match report from Ron Stickney:

Seattle Sounders FC won their third consecutive US Open Cup with a 2-0 win over the Chicago Fire. Fredy Montero knocked in a rebound off goalkeeper Sean Johnson for the match winner, and Osvaldo Alonso added a goal at the end of added time for insurance. The Sounders became the third team in US Open Cup history to win three in a row. The last was New York Greek-American in 1969.

Both sides gave it their all, playing pressure defense all over the pitch and doing their best to attack. The first half was a stalemate.

Chances came early. Off the kickoff play, Alonso got a talking to from referee Alex Prus after a late tackle on Marco Pappa, and from the long free kick Pappa headed a shot a yard wide from the arc.

Seattle took a free kick in the second minute but Mike Fucito sailed it over everyone. In the 3rd minute a Seattle corner kick gave Jeff Parke a shot from close in but he was falling away and managed just a soft shot to Johnson on the goal line. Just 5 minutes in Fucito had a shot in close from Alvaro Fernandez' near-post cross but missed well wide.

For Chicago, Pappa's turn and shoot from 35 yards forced Kasey Keller's first save.

At 8' Lamar Neagle headed a long free kick in front of goal to give Fucito a golden opportunity and the quick, low volley was saved by Johnson with his leg. Then Alonso got a dropped pass from Fernandez for a shot from the top of the arc and missed by five yards.

Pappa's low free kick from Seattle's bench went near side of the wall and had to be saved by Keller with a dive. A quarter of an hour was gone leaving plenty of shots in the wake.

Chicago's best chance of the match came at 39' when Pappa's 30-yarder was deflected by Parke and Keller had to reverse directions to save it.

Near the end of the half Fucito was sent in close and dropped a pass to Fernandez, whose drive from close in was well saved by Johnson, and Fernandez' put-back shot was blocked out. At the end of the half Montero worked hard for a shot from 20 up the middle that hit the left post squarely, then Fucito knocked the rebound wide.

At the half Erik Friberg replaced Fernandez, who reportedly suffered a mild concussion from a challenge early in the match.

Chicago continued to pressure well on defense in the second half, but they were spent on offense, managing just one shot. That came at 50' when Patrick Nyarko's header from the arc went softly to Keller. Seattle's back line did a great job of preventing anything from forwards Nyarko and Dominic Oduro.

Seattle hit the post a second time at 53' off Brad Evans' quick throw-in, which earned Fucito a chip shot in close that bounced off the wrong side of the far post.

78' SEA: Montero (Parke). Seattle's break came off a corner kick from Friberg. Parke headed it on goal and Johnson made a one-handed save, but left a rebound in the middle of the goal area. Montero was there poaching and had an easy finish with Johnson supine. 1-0 Seattle.

Two minutes later Montero sent Fucito in all alone with only Johnson to beat, but Fucito bent his shot the wrong way, missing the far post. Then Friberg from 20 forced a save at the lower near corner off a free kick play.

At 90' Oduro was flagged offside as he headed on goal.

90' SEA: Alonso. Deep in added time with Seattle killing time in the corner, the ball came up the line and was centered to an open Alonso. He beat three defenders and Johnson on the dribble into the penalty area to earn an open shot into an open goal to seal the victory for Seattle. 2-0 Seattle.

The Sounders received their third US Open Cup trophy amidst confetti and fireworks in front of a record Open Cup crowd of over 35,000.

          SEA  CHI
Shots:     24    6
Saves:      4    6
Corners:   10    6
Fouls:     13   18
Offsides:   0    3

26' CHI: Nyarko cautioned for tripping Alonso
37' CHI: Paladini cautioned for pulling down Alonso, a tactical foul
90' CHI and SEA: Anibaba and Alonso cautioned for a minor altercation

Referees: Alex Prus; Steven Taylor, Eric Boria; Josh Wilkens

Attendance: 35,615

Postmatch Quotes

Seattle Sounders FC

Sigi Schmid - Head Coach

Opening comments: "Obviously we're very pleased to win three in a row. It was a hard fought game. I thought Chicago played very well. Their players were giving everything they had and committed themselves totally to the game. We were a little unlucky with a couple off the post - Fredy Montero's in the first half, Fucito's in the second. I thought we were more dangerous on chances. I think we pretty much, for the most part, limited them on chances, although they had some good possession in midfield. I just can't say enough about the guys over there. To win three in a row is something very special and very unique. It hasn't been done in a long time. Like we said, every time we enter a competition we want to win it, so we'll enter it next year and we'll want to win it next year as well."

On how hard it is to win the tournament three years in a row: "It's tough, it's tough. You need a little bit of luck. You need some breaks to go your way along the way. We had some games when you look at the string of games and the series of games and you look at the penalty kicks in Portland the one year and you look at the overtime goal that we got the one year up here at Starfire. So you need a break or two along the way but that's what you're looking for and then a good team can take that break and be able to use it."

On if it is assumed that the prize to winning the U.S. Open Cup is entry into the Champions League play-in next year: "Yeah, it's entry into the play-in, but we'd like to do a little more than just play-in. So that means we'll have to do a little more in the MLS playoffs this year."

On if he changed anything at halftime: "No. All we talked about at halftime is that we felt that they were holding a high line, so that we felt we could get in behind their defense. We could look to play a little more direct at times. At times I thought we were a little too direct, but we felt that we wanted Fucito and even Lamar - because they both have good pace - to check and go a little bit more and to try and get them play in behind the defense, so that was important to us. The other thing we talked about was simply not to get countered on because they're a team when we had a corner or a free kick they tried to come out very quickly and tried to counter on us. But tactically we had to bring on Erik Friberg for Alvaro Fernandez because he had a slight concussion - that's what the doctor told us, so we had to pull him off at halftime. That changes us a little bit too because then we wanted Evans and Friberg to interchange a little bit more. Erik plays it more as a midfielder than a winger, so that allowed Lamar to push on a little bit more as well."

On defending Chicago's attack: "Well, I think we did a lot of little things. We talked about making sure that their defenders, and primarily Pavel Pardo, didn't have a chance to lift his head and hit those long balls in behind. I thought Evans did a really good job. Sometimes we were stretched in midfield, but I thought he did a really good job of stepping up to Pavel. I think when you look at the 90 minutes it was a rare occasion that he was able to hit a ball behind our defense, he was able to go back and square. With Fredy and Fucito we wanted the same from them and I thought they did a great job of that. And then we said if there's no pressure let's make sure we drop off and I thought Parke and Hurtado of getting that head start as they defended. They didn't wait for the ball to get hit, they saw that, 'Hey, there's no pressure,' so they started running and advancing the pass. So I thought we limited the space behind us. I think maybe only three occasions in the whole 90 minutes where they were looking like they were dangerous getting behind us."

On how they have been so successful playing in multiple competitions with lots of travel: "Well, it's tremendous. Our depth has been good all year and different guys have stepped up and contributed at different times. That's just a reflection of our team. We have a lot of stars on this team, but the star of the team is the team. They know that, 'OK, today it's Fredy's turn to score and the next day it's going to be Flaco's turn to score, and the next day it's going to be Lamar Neagle's turn to score, and different people...and Kasey chips in a save here and there and everything works out.' But I think our depth and being able to balance so many competitions is a tribute to what the club has been able to build up over three years and the improvement of players in that three year period of time."

On if there is a psychology involved that is different than a normal week in preparing for a Cup final: "I mean the players, the players bring that in their makeup and in their constitution. So you talk about it and you realize the importance of the game and as we've gone through these series of games we've tried to talk about games in three or four game blocks and say, 'This is an important game. This is what this game does.' Maybe New England are not so important in our minds at that point because we have an important game here, so we've tried to balance all that. But at the end of the day, I can stand on my head in the locker room and spin around on a top. What's going to motivate them is themselves inside. They get out and they motivate themselves and they get it done. There's a lot of special people that they know who support them and I think the biggest motivation of all for me at the end of that game, as all the players are gathered on the field, is just looking up at the stands and seeing everybody still there waiting for us to get presented the trophy. Everybody else waited, except for that one little Chicago corner. But I think that's a reflection of what we play for every day and what gets us motivated every day. The fans are superb."

Jeff Parke

On his almost-goal that Montero eventually scored: "Any way it goes in. It's be nice to score, but Fredy got it and knocked it in."

On if they thought it wasn't their night after two shots hitting the post: "I didn't want to believe it. I was thinking that a little bit, but then I was like, 'We're gonna knock one in and open this game up.'"

On if he and the team prefers the south end of the field: "I guess I can see the ball a little better in that corner."

On how the defense neutralized Chicago's speed up front: "We just gave them a little space and talked a lot. It goes to our midfield, they got after their midfield and didn't let them pick their head up too long and took those guys out. Hats off to our midfield, they did really well, and the back line did well, as well."

On what was the key to the game: "It was the pressure. The pressure definitely never quit on them. We didn't make it easy for them, and it showed because they didn't play too many balls over the top and when they did, we were there."

On how hard it is to play so many knock-out games: "It's tough, but you get used to it. Some of the guys get a bit more mature, they get used to the level of the play. We've got plenty of guys that do so good and have been in these big moments before."

Brad Evans

On the play of the midfielders: "They looked for the long ball first and foremost, so we talked about that before the game, 'Let's make their backs play as much as possible, especially Gargan,' so I think we did a good job of that. I think we stepped up. Pardo wasn't really involved until the middle of the second half-early in the second half. We did a good job, but a player like that is going to find his way into the game somehow. Other than that I thought we did a pretty good job in midfield."

On neutralizing Chicago's better players: "We talk about that every game. You look at a Donovan or a Beckham, whatever it is, you try to make them play square or backwards as much as possible. So tonight, we knew that their two forwards were going to look for the ball behind, so we closed the service. It's kind of a little bit of math, I guess. I thought we did a good job."

On the emotional aspect of winning this game: "I think the most important thing is that we're all in this together, regardless. At some point, everybody has played a part in this tournament or this season. We've got a deep team, and like I said, everybody's played part. It's a testament to our team and these guys, and it's great to win for guys that can't be involved."

On celebrating in front of the home crowd: "It's insane. Once they started getting into it in the second half, I knew we were going to get a goal for sure. Once we get one, we get two. They were insane tonight, so it was awesome."

On the togetherness of this team: "It pays dividends. Hopefully this pays dividends down the line. We can get the Supporter's Shield with that other result tonight, so we'll celebrate this for a couple days, but we have a big game Saturday. If we can get three points there and catch some ground again, we put ourselves in a good position to possibly get the Supporter's Shield and carry this to the MLS Cup."

On if the game got a little rough in the second half: "When you're down 1-0, you try to do anything you can to scrape a goal somehow. You expect it, it's part of the game, but it's great to see everybody fired up."

On winning after such a long trip: "In a game like this, you throw travel out the window. You don't even think about it. It doesn't play a part. I don't think anybody was thinking we had tired legs or anything."

On Osvaldo Alonso's goal: "It was ridiculous. I thought for sure he was going to shoot, then he took another touch...unbelievable. Couldn't have happened to a better player, better person. It's fitting."

Kasey Keller

On winning a championship: "To be able to win a cup, at any time, is a tremendous feeling. To win a league, unfortunately I haven't been able to win a league yet, hopefully we still have a chance at that. Whenever you get a chance to lift a trophy, you know it's a special occasion. We were so disappointed that first year, that we weren't able to host the final--we thought we deserved it, we thought our fans deserved it--but we had a great travel support to D.C. and we were able to win there. Then last year, can we get back here and be able to host the event and win it in front of our fans, which we were able to do, break all kinds of records for MLS Open Cup. Then to think, can we do this a third time and host it once again?"

On playing the game at home: "I don't think you can take away from the fact our ownership group is willing to out-bid to get us home draws. The tremendous atmosphere we have at Starfire for games is a huge advantage to us. You can't look only at the team, it's a total club effort to have days like this. Big thanks to them. Then what do our fans do? They come down here and break their own record from last year, but what makes it even more special, is something from day one--it's one thing to have a great crowd...but to be able to back it up and be successful for that crowd is something that I'm so proud of in these last three years that we've been able to accomplish."

On the differences from last year: "There was a little bit different feeling last year. We left it kind of late. I think we had such a huge relief after qualifying for the playoffs, we kind of let down a little bit. You say, 'How is that possible?' Sometimes you have that subconscious that's like, 'We made it. Okay.' The goal this year was different. We've been up there all year...We knew we were going to make the playoffs... We're ready this year to go as far as we possibly can, and that's a cool mentality that we've had."

Fredy Montero

On not being able to score until late in the game: "Our expectations were always high and they were very positive. We kept trying and trying again until that first goal arrived, and were going to keep trying and trying again until that first goal arrived."

On the atmosphere: "As our coach said, we have the opportunity to make history. We were able to do it not just for our families, but also our fans, and now we have to keep looking forward to the next cups and wins that we have ahead."

Chicago Fire

Frank Klopas - Head Coach

General thoughts: "First I want to congratulate Seattle for winning a third U.S. Open Cup, so congratulations to them. The game, obviously, didn't turn out how we wanted it to, still very proud of the effort our guys put in. We knew that it was going to be a difficult match, for sure. It's not an easy place to come and play. I thought the first half we had moments where we had some rhythm into the game, but never got anything going through the midfield or with our front-runners. I think the second half, we talked about that and tried to get the midfield involved more, develop some rhythm in the play, get our front-runners with their movement to work a little better together. We gave up the set-piece goal, then we tried to push the game and obviously at that point it was late and we were pushing forward and they scored a second goal. I'm proud of the effort from our group, obviously disappointed because we put a lot into the game. We just have to focus on the next game coming up in the league against Dallas at home."

On why they weren't able to get any rhythm: "I think they did a very good job defensively, for sure...I don't know if our movement off the ball wasn't great, I don't know if they threw us off a little bit, I don't want to use excuses. I just think we never got rhythm. We had a little bit of a momentum change in the first half then it just seemed that we didn't get that back and our front-runners didn't seem to work well off each other."

On Seattle having the home-field advantage: "What can I tell you? That's the way they do it, maybe if they find a better solution when it's a neutral site, I couldn't tell you. It was an opportunity. I know that we did everything we could to get it. It would have been great to play at home, but regardless it's a final, and things that aren't in my control I can't worry about that."

On what he can take from the game: "I liked the effort of the group. I know we felt good coming into the game. We were in a rhythm, we were playing well. Every game is going to be different. I liked the attitude of the guys going in. I know they competed hard and they left everything on the field, but we still have to keep working now for the guys to be gelling more on the field. In situations like this, I can find better solutions to get more involved in the game. There's always going to be positives."

Logan Pause

On the game: "It's disappointing. We came here to win. We were under the gun all night. They're a great team, one of the best in the league. It was a great atmosphere and home field advantage. The better team won tonight unfortunately."

On what the team's overall issue was tonight: "We struggled to get things going offensively and struggled to create chances. You end up defending for a good portion of the game, which is what it felt like we were doing. They hit the post a couple of times and we dodged a few bullets. On the set piece, we know they're dangerous. They got a knock down tap in and from then on we had to push the game. Then they got the second assurance goal at the end."

On what the team needs to do in its final MLS games in its push to make the playoffs: "We need remember what the last five or six games have looked like, and the results that we've gotten, and try to carry that momentum. As a group, we're not happy with the result. We wanted to win and hoist that trophy, but at the end of the day, we now have to refocus. We know we have a couple of teams to catch so we have to take care of our business and need wins at this stage."

Sean Johnson

On the game: "First off, caps off to the Sounders for playing a great game. We came into the game knowing it would be a battle. We fought hard the first 45 and kept it close. In the second half, they had a bit of fortune on their side. They got open on the set piece and Montero was able to finish it off. To cap it off, the last goal by Alonso out there was world class. I'm proud of my team for the effort we put forth. It's never easy coming out of a game, especially a championship, with a loss, having worked so hard to get here. We have to look forward now. We have three games left in our season so we have to finish our season strong and try to push for the playoffs."

On if the pressure was increasing as the second half went on: "The longer it went scoreless, given the circumstances, the better for us. Pressure, I didn't really feel pressure in the game to be honest. There was about a 15-minute period where Seattle really pressed and I think at the end of that period they got their goal. There are no words to explain going down off a set piece and then trying to push forward to get a goal. We left ourselves open, but you have to take the chance - it's a championship game. It was a hard-fought game and I'm proud of our team, proud of our effort. We'll try to look forward now."

On the team struggling to find its rhythm in the first half: "We did seem a bit disconnected going from defense to midfield then midfield up top. We were able to get out of the half 0-0 and that's the most important thing. When you're not playing like you want to you try to do the best you can and just work hard to get out of the situation. I thought we came out in the second half and played a lot better. They were just fortunate to go up a goal and then we were pressing, pressing. They were able to finish the game off with the late goal."

On what was missing tonight: "To be honest, it was just one of those nights. Everybody fought hard. You'd have loved to get up and score early on team like this, especially away. We were confident going into the second half. I thought we played a bit better and picked it up a bit. All I can say is, on the night, we played hard and just came up a little short."