TUKWILA, Wash. – The Sounders FC is now one match away from history.
After another convincing victory over Chivas USA, the Sounders reached their fourth straight US Open Cup championship final with a 4-1 win on Wednesday night at Starfire as they look to become the first team in the tournament's 99-year history to win the title four years in a row.
The Sounders will meet Sporting Kansas City, 2-0 winners over the Philadelphia Union in the other semifinal pairing, on August 8 at Livestrong Sporting Park.
"It's real. We can talk about trying to win four in a row," Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. "You look at what these guys have done in one-off games, you look at the history of any league around the world and you don't see any teams winning four straight FA Cups or Copa del Reys. Teams might win four league championships in a row, but because there are so many things that could go wrong in a one-off game it's tough to win four in a row."
Seattle got goals from Eddie Johnson, Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans and Sammy Ochoa while Bryan Meredith made three second-half saves to preserve the victory.
After the teams went back-and-forth for the first 30 minutes, Johnson finally broke through in the 31st minute.
Taking advantage of a high line played by the Chivas USA defense, Alonso collected the ball in midfield and led Johnson past the defense, leaving him one-on-one with Dan Kennedy. The Chivas goalkeeper was drawn off his line, leaving Johnson to rocket a ball past him into the open net for the 1-0 lead.
"Ozzie won it in the middle of the field and I was just running off the ball," Johnson said. "I was able to get out wide and come inside the two center backs and it was just a well-weighted pass by Ozzie."
The Sounders carried that momentum into the second half and Fredy Montero made that momentum count when he received a pass in the box, holding the ball up before he was pulled down by Chivas defender Rauwshan McKenzie for a penalty.
Alonso calmly floated the PK down the middle of the goal to beat Kennedy diving to his left and the Sounders took a 2-0 lead in the 48th minute.
Chivas would pull one back though, as Cesar Romero carried the ball into the box and shot on goal. Meredith made the initial save, but Seattle was unable to clear the rebound and Romero pounced on it, putting it away to pull the score to 2-1 in the 74th minute.
"I wasn't happy with their goal," Schmid said. "It's one of those things where we sort of dozed off a little bit and didn't clear the ball. We still have to manage the game a little bit better."
The Sounders didn't waste much time in regaining the two-goal lead though.
In the 83rd minute, Johnson controlled the ball one the left sideline, then split the defense with a ball leading Montero into the attack. He brought it to the middle, then found Evans coming up the right side and the second-half sub put it past Kennedy for the 3-1 lead.
"That kind of iced the game," Evans said. "Their heads went down after that one. It's an uphill battle from that point."
Ochoa subbed on in the 86th minute and made efficient use of his time, collecting a loose ball in the box and adding on to the lead with a blistering shot that left Kennedy to watch it go into the net for the final 4-1 advantage, letting the Sounders smile as the final seconds wore off the clock and they earned their fourth straight trip to the Open Cup final.
Before they can go for their historic championship, they will get back to the MLS regular season calendar on Sunday with a nationally televised match against the New York Red Bulls. Kickoff is at 1 pm Pacific at Red Bull Arena with television coverage on ESPN.
Sounders FC – Eddie Johnson (Osvaldo Alonso) 31; Osvaldo Alonso (PK) 48; Brad Evans (Fredy Montero) 83; Sammy Ochoa 88.
Chivas USA – Cesar Romero 74.
Sounders FC – Osvaldo Alonso (caution) 42.
Chivas USA – Oswaldo Minda (caution) 43; Danny Califf (caution) 78.
Sounders FC – Bryan Meredith, Zach Scott, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Patrick Ianni, Leo Gonzalez, Cordell Cato (Brad Evans 61), Osvaldo Alonso, Andy Rose, Alex Caskey (Alvaro Fernandez 81), Fredy Montero, Eddie Johnson (Sammy Ochoa 86).
Chivas USA – Dan Kennedy, James Riley, Danny Califf, Rauwshan McKenzie, Jorge Villafana, Oswaldo Minda, Ben Zemanski (Ryan Smith 85), Blair Gavin (Cesar Romero 64), Alejandro Moreno, Paolo Cardozo, Juan Pablo Angel (Jose Correa 69).