TUKWILA, Wash. – It feels like an eternity since Sounders FC last played in a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final in 2012, yet seems like only yesterday that Seattle watched Sporting Kansas City lift the trophy that had been housed in Seattle from 2009-2011.
Now, with an emphatic 6-0 victory over the Chicago Fire in the Open Cup semifinal on Wednesday night, the institution that has become of Sounders FC competing for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup championship is back. That tradition is amplified by the songs of the 4,361 fans that packed into Starfire Stadium for the semifinal.
“It’s a different atmosphere. It’s a tradition. I think our guys thrive on the closeness of the crowd,” Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said. “It helps spur them on to good performances.”
Sounders FC got out to a quick lead in the sixth minute when Chad Barrett scored off a ball from Kenny Cooper. Andy Rose lofted a ball forward to beat Chicago’s high line and Cooper ran under it on the right side of the box. After his defender caught up to him, he cut back to his left foot and crossed it through the Chicago defense where Barrett thumped it top shelf for a 1-0 lead.
Chicago briefly threatened the Seattle net with a shot from Quincy Amarikwa in the 17th minute, forcing Stefan Frei into a sprawling save to keep Seattle in the lead. From there the Sounders never looked back.
Marco Pappa found Rose for a header off a corner kick in the 33rd minute, then again through the run of play in the 58th minute as Seattle took a 3-0 lead into the hour mark.
Over the final 11 minutes, the hounds were unleashed as Obafemi Martins entered the match and made sure Sounders FC wasn’t simply going to see out the match, but keep the foot on the gas.
In the 79th minute, Cooper led the charging Martins into the attacking third with a backheel pass and he galloped into the box, fending off defenders along the way before rounding Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson for the goal.
DeAndre Yedlin got into the action in the 83rd minute, finding Cooper with a cross that he nodded home for a 5-0 lead. Moments later Martins set up Cooper for his second goal and Seattle finished with a 6-0 victory, sending Seattle back to the final with momentum.
“It’s fantastic. It’s something that we took seriously,” Schmid said. “Like I say, if you enter it, try and win it.”
For Rose, it was a glorious return to competition after he had gone without starting a competitive match since March 22.
His two goals were a sure signal that he is back in good form and he was elated to help Seattle reach the final for the fifth time in the club’s six-year MLS history.
“It’s not every year you get that. My first year we lost to Kansas City on penalties and that was heartbreaking. Last year we didn’t do the business. Now to get back, you know what it means a little bit more,” said Rose, who missed an extended period of the season with a knee injury. “We understand how important it is. The fans out here were incredible. We understand what it means for them. We want all the silverware we can get this year and the first opportunity is the Open Cup.”
Sounders FC will meet the Philadelphia Union in the Open Cup final on Sept. 16 at PPL Park in Chester, Penn. Seattle will have a chance to equal the MLS record with a victory in the championship, as Seattle trails only the Chicago Fire’s four Open Cup titles.