ST. PETERSBURG, Florida – For years in the second division, the Seattle Sounders made their names known by upsetting MLS clubs on their way to two straight appearances in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals. For their first four years in Major League Soccer, the Sounders FC fended off all comers, including many of the giant-slaying lower division clubs.
On Wednesday night at Al Lang Stadium, though, their reign in the Open Cup as four-time finalists came to an end with a 1-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
Georgi Hristov scored in the 75th minute and while the Sounders threatened the Rowdies’ goal for the final 15 minutes, even earning a penalty, they couldn’t find the net and they bowed out in the third round.
The first 20 minutes of the match went to the home side, with the ball spending much of that time in Seattle’s half of the field as they adjusted to the bumpy pitch and the wind blowing clear every ball played to the right side.
In the 19th minute, it looked like Hristov broke through for Tampa Bay when he got in behind the Sounders defense and put a shot past Marcus Hahnemann, but the flag was up for offside and the goal was waved off.
However, the Sounders withstood the pressure and then turned things in their favor.
In the 21st minute, Dylan Remick got a shot from the top of the box but Diego Restrepo was there for the stop. Two minutes later, Mario Martinez put a free kick from 19 yards out just wide of the far post.
In the 27th minute, Seattle got out on the run with a quick series of passes that ended with Martinez putting a shot just wide of the far post from the right side.
Tampa finally got their first shot on goal just before the first half whistle, but Shane Hill’s shot skipped easily into Hahnemann’s arms for the save and they went into the half scoreless.
During a back-and-forth second half, neither team garnered much in terms of scoring chances until the 75th minute.
Luke Mulholland got a break into the box up the right side and took a running, right-footed shot. Hahnemann made the initial stop, tipping the ball toward the far post, but Hristov was there to put away the rebound and the Sounders found themselves trailing 1-0.
Obafemi Martins subbed into the match in the 80th minute and the Sounders quickly went on the offensive.
Martins headed down a corner kick and Jordan Gafa nudged the ball away with his right arm, earning the defender a red card and a penalty for Seattle. However, Martins’ left-footed attempt from the spot was saved by Restrepo diving to his right and the Sounders remained down 1-0.
They would have more opportunities, but couldn’t find the net and 1-0 would be the final score.
The Sounders will continue their road trip on Saturday at the Home Depot Center, where they will meet Chivas USA for the first time this season.
Sounders FC – None.
Rowdies – Georgi Hristov 75.
Sounders FC – Alex Caskey (caution) 52; Mario Martinez (caution) 90.
Rowdies – Jordan Gafa (ejection) 85.
Sounders FC – Marcus Hahnemann, Dylan Remick (Obafemi Martins 80), Zach Scott, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Marc Burch, Mario Martinez, Servando Carrasco, Andy Rose, Alex Caskey (Sammy Ochoa 68), Lamar Neagle, David Estrada.
Rowdies – Diego Restrepo, Jordan Gafa, Daniel Scott, Takuya Yamada, Andrew Arango, Luke Mulholland, Shane Hill, Keith Savage, Raphael Cox, Devin Del Do (Mike Ambersley 64), Georgi Hristov.