SEATTLE - The Sounders FC has made a habit out of making history.
Especially when it comes to the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
On Tuesday night, they set a whole new standard with a 2-0 victory over the Chicago Fire to raise their third straight US Open Cup title, dueling with their record setting crowd of 35,615 at CenturyLink Field and matching the intensity of their supporters.
“I just can’t say enough about the guys over there,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “To win three in a row is something very special and very unique. It hasn’t been done in a long time. Like we said, every time we enter a competition we want to win it, so we’ll enter it next year and we’ll want to win it next year as well.”
Fredy Montero and Osvaldo Alonso scored second half goals and Kasey Keller had four saves to cap the clean sheet victory.
“Winning is winning. It never gets old,” Keller said. “Three in a row is a tremendous accomplishment and to be able to have two of them here at home … unbelievable.”
The first half was marked by a frenetic pace that matched the chaotic chanting from the record-setting crowd of 35,615. The teams combined for 15 shots, 17 fouls and the half came to an emphatic end when Fredy Montero crushed a ball from the top of the box that got past Sean Johnson, but hit the post and the half ended with a 0-0 scoreline.
The pace continued in the second half, as Mike Fucito flicked a ball over Johnson that looked destined for the far corner, but it hit off the far post as three defenders gave chase.
As the crowd boomed louder and more anxious, the pace on the field maintained its biting edge.
Finally in the 77th minute, it came to a crescendo.
“They know what good soccer is,” Brad Evans said. “When they start cheering you know you’re doing something right and you just try to keep the ball rolling.”
Added Lamar Neagle, “We feed off that. That’s why we play so well at home. Our fans are amazing, everybody knows that. So it’s nothing new.”
As Seattle sent a barrage of balls into the box and shots that were blocked nearly on contact the anticipation of the first goal built in the stands. Then Erik Friberg ripped a corner kick to Jeff Parke, who nodded a header on target, but Johnson dove for the save, only to knock the ball to the opportunistic Montero, who ripped the supporters into a frenzy with a crushing shot into the back of the net for the 1-0 lead.
Seattle scratched and clawed their way to the final moments of the match and looked to ice the game in the corner, but were forced to work the ball back to Alonso, who weaved around the Chicago defense before rolling it into an open net to put the exclamation point on the Sounders FC’s third consecutive Open Cup title.
In 2009, they topped DC United 2-1 at RFK Stadium and last year the bested the Columbus Crew 2-1 at CenturyLink Field.
The last team to win three consecutive US Open Cup championships was Greek American out of New York from 1967-1969. Before that, only Stix, Baer and Fuller from St. Louis had won three straight from 1933-1935 and the Fall River Marksmen from 1930-1932.
The US Open Cup has been contested since 1914 and is the oldest cup competition in US soccer and is amongst the oldest in the world.
Sounders FC - Fredy Montero (Jeff Parke) 77; Osvaldo Alonso 96+.
Fire - None.
Sounders FC - Osvaldo Alonso (caution) 90.
Fire - Patrick Nyarko (caution) 26; Daniel Paladini (caution) 37; Jalil Anibaba (caution) 90.
Sounders FC - Kasey Keller, James Riley, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez, Alvaro Fernandez (Erik Friberg 46), Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Lamar Neagle, Mike Fucito (Roger Levesque 89), Fredy Montero.
Fire - Sean Johnson, Gonzalo Segares, Cory Gibbs, Josip Mikulic (Jalil Anibaba 61), Dan Gargan (Sebastian Grazzini 85), Marco Pappa, Pavel Pardo, Logan Pause, Daniel Paladini (Diego Chaves 80), Dominic Oduro, Patrick Nyarko.