TUKWILA, Wash. - For 39 minute, the Kitsap Pumas had all the belief in the world that they could play with the Sounders FC. The PDL side had kept the game scoreless for that long and looked equal to the task against the MLS giants.
In the 39th minute, though Mike Fucito changed the tide when he volleyed in a thundering left-footed shot to put the Sounders up 1-0. In the 62nd minute he added another goal. And while the Pumas found the net in the 71st minute, they couldn’t manage to withstand the overbearing presence of the Sounders FC and Seattle advanced to the quarterfinals of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup with a 2-1 win at Starfire.
“Probably right at the timepoint in the game where we took the 2-0 lead and maybe the game will tip, then they end up scoring a goal, we give them a shot of adrenaline and it keeps their energy going,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “Hats off to them and obviously (Kitsap coach Pete Fewing) should be very proud of the effort they put in today.”
Seattle forced Kitsap goalkeeper - and Sounders FC trainee - Bryan Meredith into six saves while taking 25 shots on the match and their defense held the Pumas to just seven shots in the match to keep the night easy for Terry Boss.
Things were even in the match until Nate Jaqua fielded a long cross from the left side of midfield, flicking a header to Fucito coming up the left side behind the defense. Fucito got his left foot on the volley and knocked it past Meredith for the first goal of the night in the 39th minute.
“The objective was to come out and try to score early because the longer we didn’t score, the longer they thought they would be in the game,” Fucito said. “(Jaqua) won a lot of headers and flick-ons and I just tried to put myself in the right position when he does win it.”
Just before halftime, Bryan Burke had a chance to equalize for the Pumas, but rushed his shot from the top of the box wide for a goal kick and the Sounders maintained their 1-0 lead.
Kitsap had another shot shortly after halftime, but hit the side-netting off a great cross from Robert Christner.
In the 62nd minute, Fucito did it again, this time utilizing some nice footwork to get into the box, then cut back to his right foot to get around a defender before blasting a right-footed shot past Meredith for his second goal of the night and a 2-0 lead.
“There was a lot of traffic, so it just snuck in there, but I’ll take it,” Fucito said.
The Pumas were not about to go down easy though. In the 71st minute, they earned a corner kick and kept the pressure on the Sounders defense even after they got the clearance from the initial effort. Christner sent the ball back into the box with a hard ball and Nikolas Besagno popped it into the net from close range to pull the Pumas back to 2-1.
Seattle looked to regain their two-goal advantage late in the match, but Meredith made a diving stop on a strong shot from Jaqua in the 82nd minute and the Kitsap defense stood strong amidst a flurry in the box in the 85th minute. Warlen Silva nearly equalized for the Pumas in the 83rd minute, but just missed outside the near post on a run up the left side and Seattle held on for the win to advance to the quarterfinals.
“We gave them a fair amount of chances that were pretty dangerous and could have made the game drastically different if they had capitalized on them,” Boss said. “At the end of the day, we knew we just had to win and it was nice to just get the win.”
The Sounders will face the LA Galaxy for the second straight year in the tournament after the Galaxy came back from a late 1-0 deficit to top the LA Blues 2-1. That match will be played at Starfire either on July 12 or 13.
Sounders FC - Mike Fucito (Nate Jaqua) 39; Mike Fucito 62.
Pumas - Nikolas Besagno (Robert Christner) 71.
Sounders FC - None.
Pumas - Taylor Hyde (caution) 43; Dan Scott (caution) 80.
Sounders FC - Terry Boss, Zach Scott, Leo Gonzalez, Taylor Graham, Michael Tetteh, David Estrada (Pat Noonan 54), Osvaldo Alonso, Mike Seamon (Servando Carrasco 85), Miguel Montano, Mike Fucito (Jeff Parke 68), Nate Jaqua.
Pumas - Bryan Meredith, Stephen Mohn, Taylor Hyde, Dan Scott, Mark Lee, Matt Friesen (David Gray 84), Nikolas Besagno, Elliott Fauske, Cameron Hepple (Tye Perdido 83), Robert Christner, Bryan Burke (Warlen Silva 69).