TUKWILA, Washington - For the third straight year the Seattle Sounders FC will play in the semifinals of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
Nate Jaqua, Fredy Montero and Lamar Neagle scored for the Sounders and Terry Boss made five saves to lift the Sounders to a 3-1 win over the LA Galaxy at Starfire, giving the club ten straight wins in the Open Cup.
“Our guys really respond to the fans and the intimate atmosphere here. I think it’s tremendous and it gives the fans a chance to see it up close and personal,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said, noting the crowd of 4,322 at cozy Starfire. “Our goal is always whatever we enter, we’re going to try to win.”
Dating back to the USL era of the Seattle Sounders, Seattle has reached the Open Cup semifinals five straight years, with the USL club falling in the semifinals in 2007 to FC Dallas and 2008 to the Charleston Battery.
Wednesday night was no different for the Sounders FC, who jumped on the Galaxy early and kept the momentum of a nine-game unbeaten streak in all competitions rolling to the final whistle.
Twice in the game’s first three minutes, Seattle got the ball into the Galaxy’s box with a threat to score, only to be turned away by Galaxy goalkeeper Josh Saunders. In their second effort, Jaqua headed down a lobbed pass from Montero and got it past Saunders, only to have it hit the inside of the post and bounce out for Saunders to make the snag.
In the fourth minute, though, Jaqua made sure nothing would keep him out of the net.
Jaqua was timing his run by waiting on the shoulder of the Galaxy defense. When Pat Noonan slipped the ball past the defense, Jaqua was one-on-one with Saunders and caught him off-guard with a left-footed shot that beat him inside the right post for a 1-0 lead.
By halftime, Jaqua had four shots, but was only able to get the one goal.
“I was able to get that first one early and I had a couple of other ones I would have liked to put away, but that’s how it goes sometimes,” said Jaqua, who went on to set up Montero‘s goal in the 25th minute.
Jaqua took control of the ball at the top of the box, then rolled it across to Montero. Gathering the ball on his right foot, Montero quickly switched it back to his left and fired a left-footed shot to beat Saunders for a 2-0 lead.
LA was able to pull one back in the 40th minute, though, when Chris Brichall got free up the right side and crossed the ball into the box. Adam Cristman charged into the middle and knocked it into the open side of the net to make it 2-1.
After the Sounders dominated the first 40 minutes of action, the Galaxy’s goal cued the start of a much more evenly played final 50 minutes.
However even it was though, Seattle was still able to add on to their lead in the second half.
Alvaro Fernandez led Neagle on a run up the right side and Neagle pounded a shot across the body of Saunders and into the net for a 3-1 lead.
“Flaco played a great ball, I ran across the back line to kind of keep an eye on a guy,” Neagle said. “He played a great ball and I just got a flick on it and it went in the side netting.”
The Sounders held on the rest of the way and rewarded the standing room only crowd with a thrilling victory that sends them to an Open Cup semifinal date with FC Dallas, who topped Real Salt Lake 2-0 on Tuesday night.
More information on the semifinal match, which will be played at Starfire in August, will be made available soon on SoundersFC.com.
Sounders FC - Nate Jaqua (Pat Noonan) 4; Fredy Montero (Nate Jaqua) 25; Lamar Neagle (Alvaro Fernandez) 74;
LA Galaxy - Adam Cristman (Chris Birchall) 40;
Sounders FC - Osvaldo Alonso (caution) 22; Fredy Montero (caution) 54; Jeff Parke (caution) 55; Mike Fucito (caution) 90.
LA Galaxy - Paolo Cardozo (caution) 59.
Sounders FC - Terry Boss, Zach Scott, Jeff Parke, Pat Ianni, Leo Gonzalez, Pat Noonan (Erik Friberg 64), Osvaldo Alonso, Alvaro Fernandez, Lamar Neagle, Nate Jaqua (Roger Levesque 71), Fredy Montero (Mike Fucito 79).
LA Galaxy - Josh Saunders, Bryan Jordan, A.J. DeLaGarza, Gregg Berhalter, Todd Dunivant, Chris Birchall, Michael Stephens, Junín (Jovan Kirovski 78), Landon Donovan (Hector Jimenez 75), Paolo Cardozo (Miguel Lopez 64), Adam Cristman.
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