SEATTLE - In the middle of the season, the Sounders FC built great momentum with two US Open Cup wins that were built on strong performances from their reserves. As the regular season progressed, the club lost just one match in their next 13 in league play and took home the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup for a second straight year.
Tuesday night at Qwest Field, those reserves struck again, showing the depth of the Sounders FC with a 3-1 victory over Mexican giants CD Guadalajara in their final international friendly of the season.
With a crowd of 41,047 on hand, Michael Fucito and Nate Jaqua scored in the first half and when Chivas got back within striking distance in the second half Sanna Nyassi added insurance in the 90th minute to seal the victory.
“I thought we played well in the first half. We pretty much had the game. They had better possession than us, but we were more dangerous,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “In the second half, they went to a 3-5-2 and we made some changes and we lost the plot there. There was about 20 minutes where they definitely controlled the ball on us and we didn't get possession.”
Fucito, who has three goals in Champions League play and one MLS goal, took just five minutes to put the Sounders on top of Chivas. He chested a loose ball down to Roger Levesque at the top of the box, then Levesque touched it forward for an on-rushing Fucito, who blasted a right-footed shot into the net for a 1-0 lead.
Fucito would add an assist when he played a ball forward for Levesque on the left side and Levesque lofted a cross into the box where Jaqua headed it hard past Chivas goalkeeper Luis Michel for the 2-0 lead in the 18th minute.
“I thought we created a few opportunities pretty early and then were able to get two in so that definitely gave us the momentum and put them under pressure early,” Fucito said.
Seattle continued to pour on the pressure in the first half and Fucito nearly added a second goal for himself with a left-footed rocket in the 26th minute, but it shook the frame of the goal as it caromed off the post. Another header later in the first half missed wide left, but showed that Fucito was a force of nature in the first half of play. He showed fatigue in the second half, but still managed to impact the game.
“I think first half I was more effective. I think I ran out of gas a little bit towards the end,” said Fucito, who only recently returned from an ankle sprain that kept him out for a couple of weeks. “I would've liked to be a little more effective in the second half but that comes with fitness. I think now that my ankle is better I'll be fine going forward.”
Marco Fabian scored on a 70th minute header to draw Chivas to within 2-1, but from that point on Seattle regained control, again showing poise down the stretch after most of the same group let a 2-0 lead go to waste in a Champions League match against Monterrey in September.
“We have been there before. It’s nice to draw on that experience and be able to bounce back and not let it slip away like it did in Monterrey,” said goalkeeper Terry Boss, who finished with three saves in the win. “I was real proud of the guys. The guys came out and gave a great effort. Scoring two early goals always helps. I think it was good for this group of guys who had been getting a run and a get that win against Marathón and then get this win here.”
The insurance goal came at the feet of two regular starters for Seattle who came on to spell the starters for the friendly. Given some extra space after a second yellow card was issued to Juan Ocampo, resulting in the defender’s ejection, Fredy Montero ripped a left-footed shot that looked destined for goal. However, it rattled the post and bounced right to a wide-open Nyassi in front of an empty net. Nyassi took one touch to knock it back into the net to keep his incredible goal-scoring run, which has seen the Gambian midfielder score five times in the last four matches.
“Sanna was there where he needed to be and sometimes when it's going well for you, it’s really going well,” Schmid said. “I’ll take that little bit of luck and his confidence continues to grow every time he makes a play like that.”
Next up for the Sounders FC is Fan Appreciation Night at Qwest Field in the regular season home finale against Chivas USA. Kickoff is at 8 pm for the ESPN2 broadcast.
Sounders FC - Michael Fucito (Roger Levesque) 5; Nate Jaqua (Levesque, Fucito) 18; Sanna Nyassi (Fredy Montero) 90.
Chivas - Marco Fabian (Mitchel Oviedo) 70.
Sounders FC - Terry Boss, Zach Scott, Tyrone Marshall, Taylor Graham, Tyson Wahl (Akeem Adams 46), David Estrada (Miguel Montano 59), Alvaro Fernandez (Peter Vagenas 46), Mike Seamon (Sanna Nyassi 88), Roger Levesque, Mike Fucito, Nate Jaqua (Fredy Montero 75).
Chivas - Luis Michel (Hugo Hernandez 46), Christian Perez, Jorge Enriquez (Patricio Araujo 46), Juan Ocampo, Dionicio Escalante (Omar Esparza 30), Edgar Mejia, Xavier Baez, Ulises Davila, Alberto Medina (Marco Fabian 64), Jesus Sanchez (Miguel Ponce 63), Mitchel Oviedo.