SEATTLE (Oct. 4, 2011) – The Seattle Sounders won their third consecutive Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title with a 2-0 win against the Chicago Fire in front of a record crowd this evening at CenturyLink Stadium in Seattle. Goals from Fredy Montero and Osvaldo Alonso helped the Sounders become the first team in 42 years to win the Open Cup three years in a row and ensured goalkeeping legend and team captain Kasey Keller ended his final season with at least one piece of silverware.
Montero’s 77th minute close-range tap-in was the deciding goal in the match. The Colombian turned in a rebound from Jeff Parke’s header to give the Sounders the lead after Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson did well to save the first attempt. In the final moments Alonso made sure of the result after a confident piece of individual dribbling took him around the Fire goalkeeper and multiple defenders. He slipped the ball into the empty net in the sixth minute of second half stoppage time sparking scenes of pandemonium at CenturyLink Stadium.
The Fire played well during the 98th edition of the Open Cup Final and ran the home team close throughout the match. Johnson pulled off a string of important saves but Seattle’s consistent pressure was telling and the late stages brought the goals the home side ultimately deserved.
Neither team showed the hesitancy sometimes associated with a Cup Final, and both teams were eager to stretch the game from referee Alex Prus’ first whistle. Seattle got forward in the early going, testing Johnson with a series of teasing crosses and driven balls.
The speed of Patrick Nyarko and Dominic Oduro had been well documented throughout the Fire’s recent resurgence and its run through the Open Cup, but in the early going it was Marco Pappa providing incisiveness on the right wing for Chicago. The crafty Guatemalan midfielder cut inside his man before putting a shot wide in the 11th minute. Two minutes later he tested Keller for the first time with a long range effort.
Towards the end of the first half Pappa once again tested Keller, but the veteran ‘keeper showcased the skills that have marked his legendary career. On the chance, Pappa skipped past Gonzalez and cut inside before having a crack from 30 yards. The ball took a big deflection on the way through, forcing Keller to stop his momentum and spring back to his left to keep the game scoreless.
In the other goal Johnson continued to shine for the Fire. He repelled Seattle’s attack with numerous catch-punches before denying Alvaro Fernandez with an excellent diving save in the 44th minute. The busy Michael Fucito latched onto a bad giveaway from Gonzalo Segares before hitting a back heel pass for Fernandez who hit struck a first-time volley, but Johnson was equal to the stinging effort from 14 yards out.
In injury time of the first half, the otherwise quiet Montero came close to breaking the deadlock. The Columbian’s low drive from 20 yards beat Johnson’s sprawling dive to the right but caromed back off the woodwork to ensure the a scoreless draw at the break.
The second half brought an early chance for Fucito when he got in position in front of the goal to flick the ball over Johnson, but his attempt went off the right post. The teams traded blows throughout the second 45 minutes, with each team failing to land the knockout punch.
Second half substitute Erik Friberg was finding joy on the right wing and it was from his corner kick that Seattle eventually took the lead. Parke’s header led to Montero’s finish and from there the Sounders had the trophy in their sights.
Chicago interim head coach Frank Klopas sent on two late substitutes to incite a change in the Fire’s fortunes, but it was not to be. Diego Chaves was unable to make the difference while the normally influential Sebastian Grazzini was slowed by an injury that kept him out of the starting lineup.
The Fire threw numbers forward in the final minutes but were unable to get a clear site at Keller in the Seattle goal. At the other end, Alonso made sure the Open Cup trophy was staying in Seattle after his excellent individual effort ignited passionate celebrations in the stands and on the field.
The Sounders are the first team in 42 years to win the Open Cup three years in a row and the fourth team in history to accomplish this feat. Prior to Seattle, the New York Greek-Americans (1967-69) were the last team to win three Open Cups in a row. St. Louis Central Breweries/Stix, Baer & Fuller (1933-35) and Fall River Marksmen/New Bedford Whalers (1930-32) are the other two teams to win three consecutive Open Cup Finals.
As the winners of the 2011 event, the Seattle Sounders earn a $100,000 cash prize, while the Chicago Fire collects $50,000 as the runners-up.
The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, which is recognized as U.S. Soccer’s National Championship, is an annual competition open to all amateur and professional soccer teams affiliated with U.S. Soccer. The tournament has crowned a champion for 98 consecutive years dating back to 1914.
--Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Match Report--
Match: Seattle Sounders vs. Chicago Fire
Date: Oct. 4, 2011
Competition: Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final
Venue: CenturyLink Stadium; Seattle
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Weather: 60 degrees; cool, crisp, light drizzle
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
Seattle Sounders 0 2 2
Chicago Fire 0 0 0
SEA – Fredy Montero (Jeff Parke) 77th minute
SEA – Osvaldo Alonso (unassisted) 90+6
SEA: 18-Kasey Keller; 34-Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, 7-James Riley, 31-Jeff Parke, 12-Leonardo Gonzalez; 3-Brad Evans, 6-Osvaldo Alonso, 15-Alvaro Fernandez (8-Erik Friberg, 46), 27-Lamar Neagle; 17-Fredy Montero, 2-Michael Fucito (24-Roger Levesque, 89)
Subs not used: 5-Tyson Wahl, 19-Samuel Ochoa, 20-Zach Scott, 21-Nate Jaqua, 29-Josh Ford
Head Coach: Sigi Schmid
CHI: 25-Sean Johnson; 3-Dan Gargan (10-Sebastian Grazzini, 85), 23-Josip Mikulic (6-Jalil Anibaba, 61), 5-Cory Gibbs, 13-Gonzalo Segares; 12-Logan Pause (capt.), 17-Pavel Pardo, 16-Marco Pappa; 11-Daniel Paladini (99-Diego Chaves, 80); 14-Patrick Nyarko, 8-Dominic Oduro
Subs not used: 1-Jon Conway, 9-Baggio Husidic, 15-Orr Barouch, 21-Michael Videira
Head coach: Frank Klopas
Stats Summary: SEA / CHI
Shots: 24 / 6
Shots on Goal: 8 / 4
Saves: 4 / 6
Corner Kicks: 10 / 6
Fouls: 12 / 18
Offside: 0 / 3
CHI - Patrick Nyarko (caution) 26th minute
CHI – Daniel Paladini (caution) 37
CHI – Jalil Anibaba (caution) 90
SEA – Osvaldo Alonso (caution) 90
Referee: Alex Prus (USA)
Assistant Referee 1: Steven Taylor (USA)
Assistant Referee 2: Eric Boria (USA)
Fourth Official: Josh Wilkens (USA)