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Seattle Sounders FC Become Second MLS Expansion Team to Claim U.S. Open Cup Crown

• Seattle Becomes Second MLS Squad To Win U.S. Open Cup During Inaugural Season
• Fredy Montero and Roger Levesque Score For Seattle, Sounders Hold Off Late D.C. Charge
• United Goalkeeper Josh Wicks Sent Off in 69th Minute

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sept. 2, 2009) — The Seattle Sounders continued their dream expansion year with a 2-1 victory in the 2009 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. With the title, Seattle is now the second MLS team to win the Open Cup in their inaugural season in the league, matching the 1998 Chicago Fire.

Striking in the 67th minute, forward Fredy Montero gave Seattle a lead that Roger Levesque then doubled in the 86th minute. With only 10 men on the field, however, D.C. managed to score in the 89th minute from the foot of Clyde Simms before time ran out on their comeback bid.

“Certainly this is something we can take back,” said Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid. “It’s something tangible and it’s something that becomes a defining moment for our team and something we can build on.”

The match began with measured passing by the hosts, hoping to settle down and gain some rhythm. With five midfielders in the center of the park, D.C. was able to gain the majority of possession in the first few minutes. Their first chance of the game came in only the fifth minute from Chris Pontius. The midfielder collected a long pass from midfield at the top of the Seattle goal box, and with a defender tightly marking him still found space to push it towards the end line before taking a hard shot to the far post that went wide.

Seattle overcame the initial D.C. pressure and used its speed to work out of the crowded midfield, with both Fredy Montero and Sebastien Le Toux finding space. Montero took the first shot of the game in the ninth minute for the Sounders, collecting a pass 30 yards from goal to the left side of the box. With defenders marking all his passing options, the Colombian chose to step up into the space and let fly, but the curling shot went wide to the right.

The visitors kept their foot on the gas, and forced D.C. goalkeeper Josh Wicks to make his first of many great saves on the night just one minute later. A through ball to rookie Steve Zakuani found the No. 1 draft pick all alone in the left side of the box, and the midfielder played the smart ball across the face of the goal where Montero one-timed the shot on goal. Staying on his line, Wicks was in perfect position to make a reaction save and keep the game scoreless.

The cautiousness of the opening few minutes were all but gone just 15 minutes in, and both teams quickly turned to fast counter-attacks to get chances on goal. Following a Sounders’ corner kick in the 16th minute, Wicks pushed the ball out where it was passed up to an open Christian Gomez at midfield. With Seattle’s midfield pushed up for the corner, Gomez dribbled straight ahead for 40 yards. Backtracking the entire way, Seattle defender James Riley stepped in perfectly to strip the ball just as Gomez reached the top of the box.

Three minutes later, Seattle again forced Wicks to make a save when Le Toux stripped Fred just inside the D.C. half. Le Toux immediately pushed forward and was rewarded with a 2v1 alongside former Arsenal midfielder Freddie Ljungberg. Laying the pass to Ljungberg inside the box, the Swede took a great first touch shot with his left foot, but again Wicks was able to kick out a foot and block the shot.

Patrick Ianni was the first player of the night to get in the referee’s book with a yellow card in the 25th minute, pulling on Luciano Emilio’s jersey as the United midfielder ran by him. The ensuing free kick from the left side of the pitch was headed towards the far upper corner, but stayed high over the bar.

In the 33rd minute, Ben Olsen tested Seattle goalkeeper Kasey Keller for the first time on the night, taking a hard shot from just outside the box with his left foot. The U.S. veteran was forced to parry the shot over the bar and give up the corner, but again D.C. was unable to capitalize. Keller would end up making six saves on seven shots on goal throughout the night.

The half ended with another fantastic save by Wicks, pushing a point-blank header from Montero over the bar in the 44th minute. Despite the initial D.C. possession in the opening minutes, the end of the first half found Seattle clearly in control of the match as both teams went into the locker room.

The second half began much like the first began, with D.C. keeping most of the possession after bringing in Santino Quaranto for Fred. Time after time, however, D.C. United’s attacks ended in shots off target, giving Keller little to worry about between the posts. In the 61st minute, Pontius managed to squeeze a pass through the crowded Seattle defense to find Emilio. Given space to shoot, Luciano put it on frame but right at Keller, who made the easy save.

Seattle opened up the scoring in 67th minute with a fast counterattack led by Steve Zakuani. Given the ball up the left side of the field, the speedy winger headed the ball forward for an onrushing Ljungberg. Holding off his defender, Ljungberg blasted the one-time shot on goal, but again Wicks made the quick save. This time, however, there was no one to clear the rebound, and Montero ran onto the loose ball and fired it past the recovering goalkeeper to put Seattle ahead.

But what happened seconds later would prove to be Wicks’, and D.C.’s, eventual undoing. After Montero collided with Wicks during the shot, Wicks appeared to stomp on Montero, who was still on the ground after the goal. Referee Alex Prus showed Wicks a red card, sending him off for the night and forcing D.C. to bring in backup goalkeeper Milos Kocic as well as take off Christian Gomez and go down to 10 men.

After the red card, play continued with a decidedly more aggressive feel. Seattle quickly made two substitutions to try and preserve their lead, bringing on Roger Levesque for Zakuani in the 74th minute and Brad Evans for Montero in the 78th. United countered by bringing on forward Rodney Wallace for Ben Olsen in the 82nd minute.

Schmid’s changes worked wonders as the Sounders went up 2-0 off the foot of Levesque in the 86th minute. A defensive turnover by D.C. allowed Le Toux to take the ball towards the end line on the right side of the field, where the Frenchman shrugged off his marker and was given space to center the ball across the face of the goal. Kocic stayed on his line, and the easy ball was tapped in by a wide open Levesque at the left post to seemingly hand the Sounders the title.

“It’s all Sebastien Le Toux,” said Levesque. “He won the ball off their center back, took a touch to the endline and I just made it to the back post. I was going to do everything I could not to let that slip by.”

Down 2-0, D.C. continued to push forward and pulled one back in the 89th minute. Given a free kick at the top of the box, Quaranta took the shot towards goal, but it was blocked by the Seattle defense. Pouncing on the loose ball was Clyde Simms who wasted little time in firing the ball past Keller and immediately running with his prize towards the midfield stripe to resume play.

Due in most part to the red card foul on Montero and ensuing arguing, the end of the match would see five minutes of stoppage time on the clock. D.C. used every second of it, pushing forward several times to earn a corner and a free kick but each shot attempt was either cleared out by the Seattle defense or went high and wide.

With a final whistle from Prus, Seattle celebrated their first cup final victory and joined the 1998 Chicago Fire as the only MLS squad to win the U.S. Open Cup in their inaugural year. Along with getting their team name engraved on the Dewar Cup, Seattle is awarded $100,000 in prize money and has earned a spot in next year’s CONCACAF Champions League. As the second place team, D.C. United takes away $50,000.

Dating back to 1914, the U.S. Open Cup is the oldest cup competition in United States soccer and is among the oldest in the world. Open to all affiliated amateur and professional teams in the United States, the annual U.S. Open Cup is a 96-year-old single-elimination tournament. In 1999, the U.S. Open Cup was renamed the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup to honor the long-time soccer supporter and pioneer.

2009 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Game Report

Participants: Seattle Sounders vs. D.C. United
Competition: 2009 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final
Location: RFK Stadium; Washington, D.C.
Date: Sept. 2, 2009
Weather: 73 degrees, sunny

Scoring Summary:   1     2         F
SEA                           0     2         2
DCU                          0     1         1

SEA – Fredy Montero (Freddie Ljungberg)     67th minute
SEA – Roger Levesque (Sebastien Le Toux)   86
DCU – Clyde Simms (Rodney Wallace)          89

SEA: 18-Kasey Keller (capt.); 7-James Riley, 4-Patrick Ianni, 5-Tyson Wahl, 19-Leonardo Gonzales; 10-Freddie Ljungberg, 6-Osvaldo Alonso, 8-Peter Vagenas, 11-Steve Zakuani (24-Roger Levesque, 74); 17-Fredy Montero (3-Brad Evans, 78), 9-Sebastien Le Toux
Subs not used: 28-Terry Boss, 12-Nathan Sturgis, 20-Zach Scott, 21-Nate Jaqua, 27-Lamar Neagle
Head Coach: Sigi Schmid

DCU: 31-Josh Wicks; 26-Brian Namoff, 5-Dejan Jakovic, 4-Marc Burch; 7-Fred (25-Santino Quaranta, 46), 19-Clyde Simms, 14-Ben Olsen (22-Rodney Wallace, 82), 13-Chris Pontius; 10-Christian Gomez (1-Milos Kocic, 71), 99-Jaime Moreno (capt.), 11-Luciano Emilio
Subs Not Used: 3-Avery John, 8-Andrew Jacobson, 12-Danny Szetela, 18-Devon McTavish
Head Coach: Tom Soehn

Statistical Summary: SEA / DCU
Shots              15 / 18
Shots on Goal    7 / 7
Saves                6 / 5
Fouls                 13 / 4
Corner Kicks       5 / 5
Offside                2 / 1

Misconduct Summary:
SEA – Patrick Ianni (caution)           24th minute
SEA – Leonardo Gonzales (caution)   49
DCU – Josh Wicks (sent off)             69
SEA – Peter Vagenas (caution)        79 

Referee: Alex Prus
Assistant Referee 1: Greg Barkey
Assistant Referee 2: Rob Fereday
Fourth Official: Andrew Chapin