US SoccerUS Soccer

2009 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Preview


CHICAGO (Aug. 26, 2009) – Now only a week away, the 2009 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup championship match will take place Wednesday, Sept. 2 at 7:30 p.m. at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. Pitting defending champions D.C. United against the Seattle Sounders, the game promises to be an exciting conclusion to the nation’s oldest annual team championship. The Sounders, the first expansion team to make the final since current U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Bob Bradley’s 1998 Chicago Fire squad earned a title, will be trying to win their first U.S. Open Cup while D.C. United will be going for their third overall and second consecutive championship. Fans can watch the match live on Fox Soccer Channel.

Seattle Sounders FC, a former USL First Division club with an established soccer presence in the Pacific Northwest joined MLS this year as the league’s 15th team. Their fan support has been well noted and is expected to break the MLS single-season record for attendance, currently held by the Los Angeles Galaxy with 28,916 in the league’s first season.

Seattle’s road to the Open Cup began with MLS play-in games, as only the top six MLS clubs from the previous regular season are automatically entered into the tournament. After victories against Real Salt Lake and the Colorado Rapids, the Sounders clinched a spot in the third round of the tournament. Their first matchup happened to be against a former USL rival in the Portland Timbers, and the match was a highly charged affair with more than 16,000 in attendance, the highest total for a non-doubleheader, non-final game in U.S. Open Cup history. The Sounders advanced with goals from Roger Levesque and Stephen King, holding on for the 2-1 victory.

Seattle Sounders 2009 U.S. Open Cup Results

 Round

Date 

Opponent

Result

Goal Scorers 

Venue

 3

 July 1

 Portland Timbers (USL-1)  2-1 W  R. Levesque, S. King  PGE Park; Portland, Ore.

 4

 July 7  Kansas City Wizards (MLS)  1-0 W  S. Le Toux

 Starfire Sports Complex; Tukwila, Wash.

 5

 July 21

 Houston Dynamo (MLS)  2-1 (OT) W  N. Jaqua, S. King  Starfire Sports Complex; Tukwila, Wash.

Their quarterfinal and semifinal games, however, were filled with late game heroics. Sebastian Le Toux finished an 89th minute penalty against the Kansas City Wizards to win 1-0 in the quarterfinals, while Nate Jaqua tied the semifinal match against the Houston Dynamo in the 89th minute to save the Sounders and send the match into overtime. In the 95th minute, Stephen King again provided the game winner that put the Sounders into a cup final in their first year as an MLS club.

D.C. United’s route to their fourth U.S. Open Cup title game has taken a much less stressful path for the fans, though no less difficult for the team. The Black and Red began their quest to defend the 2008 championship by winning their MLS play-in games, joining Seattle as the two MLS clubs given third round berths. Since then, the champions have shown their pedigree by winning gritty, physical matches. Facing a 0-0 score deep in the second half of their third round game against the Ocean City Barons (PDL), it wasn’t until a few rested D.C. United regulars came off the bench that the game was decided. Christian Gomez converted a 74th minute penalty before Ange N’Silu finished it off in the 90th minute for the 2-0 victory.

D.C. United 2009 U.S. Open Cup Results

 Round

Date 

Opponent

Result 

Goal Scorers

Venue 

 3

 June 30  Ocean City Barons (PDL)  2-0 W C. Gomez, A. N'Silu  Maryland Soccerplex; Boyds, Md.

 4

 July 7  Harrisburg City Islanders (USL-2)  2-1 W  B. Khumalo, A. Jacobson Maryland Soccerplex; Boyds, Md. 

 5

 July 21  Rochester Rhinos (USL-1)  2-1 W  J. Moreno, B. Khumalo Maryland Soccerplex; Boyds, Md.


The quarterfinals saw United hang on for a 2-1 victory against the USL-2 Harrisburg City Islanders with first half goals by Boyzzz Khumalo and Andrew Jacobson leading the charge. Their semifinal match against the Rochester Rhinos (USL-1) proved to be the biggest test for the defending champions. Former Open Cup champions themselves, the Rhinos brought a physical game to the Maryland SoccerPlex. United took the lead into halftime with a 41st minute penalty conversion from Jaime Moreno, but Tai Atieno tied it up in the 68th minute. Several hard tackles later, a defensive miscue by Rochester allowed Christ Pontius to run in on goal with a breakaway. His shot was saved by Rhinos’ goalkeeper Tim Melia, but the rebound was put in by Khumalo to bring the title game back to D.C. for the second year in a row.

Despite the obvious difference in club experience, Seattle has some key players that belie its status as an expansion team. They are led in the back by U.S. World Cup veteran Kasey Keller, who made a career overseas with clubs such as Tottenham Hotspur and Borussia Mönchengladbach in the English Premier League and German Bundesliga, respectively. He started the year as the best ‘keeper in Major League Soccer, opening Seattle’s expansion campaign with four straight shutouts before his shutout streak ended at 457 minutes against the Chicago Fire on May 2. He currently sits third in MLS rankings with a 0.94 goals against average. Their midfield is run by former Swedish international and Arsenal midfielder Freddie Ljungberg, who feeds the feet of Colombian Fredy Montero. Currently tied for second in goals scored in MLS with ten, the speedy Montero will no doubt cause problems for the United defense. Surrounded by energetic youngsters like Patrick Ianni, Steve Zakuani and Nate Jaqua, the Sounders have performed admirably well for an expansion team and are currently fourth in the Western Conference table.

At the other end of the spectrum sits D.C. United, the most decorated soccer club in the United States. They are winners of four MLS Cup titles, four MLS Supporters’ Shields, and two Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup championships, including last year’s title. The club currently is tied for first with 34 goals scored this season. Led by captain and veteran Jaime Moreno, the Bolivian is the club leader in caps as well as the MLS-leader in career goals scored with 128. He returns to the title came along with last year’s goal scorers Luciano Emilio (currently in the top-10 in goals scored this MLS season with eight) and Fred. Along with those international stars are U.S. 2006 FIFA World Cup veteran Ben Olsen, as well as Santino Quaranta who was part of the U.S. team that reached the final of this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup. With veterans such as these providing guidance to youngsters like Rodney Wallace and Chris Pontius, D.C. seems to have a squad built for continued success, even as they sit currently fifth in the Eastern Conference but within one point of Toronto and New England, who are tied for third.

With the MLS season coming into its final months, now is the first chance for both of these playoff contenders to earn their first trophy of the year. For Seattle, a victory will start them off on the right foot, while a D.C. United win will further cement their status as one of the most decorated teams in all of American sports.

The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, the U.S. Soccer Federation’s national championship, is an annual competition open to all amateur and professional soccer teams affiliated with U.S. Soccer. It is the oldest national annual tournament for team sports in U.S. history and among the oldest soccer tournaments of its type in the world. In 1999, the competition was renamed to honor long-time soccer pioneer Lamar Hunt.


×