TUKWILA, Wash. – The Sounders FC has a goal to win their fourth straight US Open Cup title.
Although US Adult Soccer Association club Cal FC proved a great story, rising from the depths of the amateur ranks to upset the Portland Timbers on their run through the Open Cup, they weren't going to stand in Seattle's way in their quest to reach that goal.
Seattle got two goals each from Fredy Montero and Osvaldo Alonso and Bryan Meredith made the only save needed of him as the Sounders ran out to a 5-0 victory to advance to the quarterfinals in the Open Cup, where they will meet the San Jose Earthquakes later this month.
"The Open Cup the last two weeks has been good for us because we had a bit of a struggle and it's allowed us now to rest some people, get some people's legs back under them and give a chance for some other people to step out and play," Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. "Obviously the confidence of the team when you score goals always improves."
In the first half, Cal FC showed the skill that got them through the first three rounds of the tournament, pressing Seattle through the game's first 25 minutes. When they lost some steam, they bunkered into a defensive posture and the while the Sounders dominated statistically, they couldn't crack their defense.
That all changed in the second half.
In the 49th minute, Montero turned on a shot from the top of the box, but in defending the shot Cal FC was called for a handball and Seattle was awarded the penalty. Alonso put it away cleanly in the 50th minute and the floodgates opened for Seattle.
Forced to come out and play for a goal, Cal FC was left exposed in the back and Seattle quickly capitalized.
Cordell Cato, who was kept relatively quiet by Cal FC left back Mike Randolph for most of the first half, got in behind the defense then bounced a ball into the box from the right side. Charging down the middle of the box, Montero got his boot to it and knocked it inside the far post for a 2-0 lead in the 58th minute.
Even at that point, Cal still looked capable of staying close to the Sounders.
But a goal in the 66th minute off a corner kick when it bounced off of Alex Caskey and Andy Rose and into the net for a 3-0 lead all but ended the Cinderella story for Cal FC.
"Once we got a couple in, they got demoralized and we were able to keep the pressure on them," Caskey said. "We were able to keep some good possession and it tired them out and helped us get control of the game."
The next two goals were of highlight-reel quality as the Sounders put away Cal FC.
Seattle earned a free kick 30 yards out against the left sideline in the 68th minute. Montero stepped over the ball and twisted a ball toward the scrum in the box. Sammy Ochoa went on a near-post run, but jumped in early to draw a flag from the linesman. The ball bounced in front of goalkeeper Derby Carrillo and into the far side netting for what appeared to be Montero's second goal of the night.
While the referee consulted with his linesman, Montero stood on the spot of his free kick, finally pumping his fist when the referee signaled for a goal, putting the Sounders up 4-0.
"The longest decision ever after I scored a goal," Montero smiled. "I think the referee made a good call. It was a goal and I was happy."
Alonso saved the best for last though.
Caskey dug the ball out of the corner and dropped it back for Rose, who rolled the ball to Alonso in the middle of the field. Alonso controlled the ball on his first touch, then hammered a 30-yard volley over the hand of Carrillo and just under the crossbar for a 5-0 Sounders lead in the 70th minute.
"Alonso's goal – even I stood up and applauded," said Cal FC coach and Fox Soccer analyst Eric Wynalda. "It was probably one of the best goals I've seen in a while."
The Sounders held possession through the final 20 minutes and played out the clock, moving on to the quarterfinal, where they will meet a San Jose team that needed an 85th minute goal from Steven Lenhart to top the NASL's Minnesota Stars FC 1-0. The match is scheduled to be played on June 26 at 7:30 at San Francisco's Kezar Stadium.
Sounders FC – Osvaldo Alonso (PK) 50; Fredy Montero (Cordell Cato) 58; Andy Rose (Alex Caskey) 66; Fredy Montero 68; Osvaldo Alonso (Andy Rose) 70.
Cal FC – None.
Sounders FC – Osvaldo Alonso (caution) 19; Sammy Ochoa (caution) 45.
Cal FC – Richard Menjivar (caution) 74.
Sounders FC – Bryan Meredith, Zach Scott, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Marc Burch, Cordell Cato, Osvaldo Alonso (Servando Carrasco 75), Andy Rose, Alex Caskey, Sammy Ochoa (Roger Levesque 73), Fredy Montero (David Estrada 81).
Cal FC – Derby Carrillo, Alberto Navarro (Paulo Ferreira-Mendez 76), Michael Randolph, Hector Espinosa, Richard Menjivar, Jesus Gonzalez, Eder Arreola (Pedro Ferreira-Mendez 60), Pablo Cruz (Alex Caceres 66), Arthur Aghasyan, Danny Barrera, Diego Barrera.