Kalani Kossa-Rienzi capitalizes on opportunity as first professional goal sends Sounders into Open Cup quarterfinals


For the Seattle Sounders, Wednesday’s 2-1 U.S. Open Cup win over Phoenix Rising FC was a positive step as they look to capture their fifth title. But for match-winner Kalani Kossa-Rienzi, it was a game he’ll never forget.

With the match tied 1-1 in the 88th minute, Kossa-Rienzi took a flicked header from Danny Musovski off his chest, shuffled across goal and fired a shot into the top corner to send Seattle to the quarterfinals.

“It feels amazing,” said Kossa-Rienzi. “I feel like I’ve been working and working and working all year. It’s nice to see it pay off and for it to come in a game like this with a crowd like this and get the win.”

The Sounders drafted Kossa-Rienzi out of the University of Washington in the first round of last year’s MLS SuperDraft. The Northern California native trained with the First Team in preseason, including their trip to Spain, before ultimately signing his first professional contract with Tacoma Defiance, the Sounders’ MLS NEXT Pro affiliate.

Kossa-Rienzi’s strong play through the early part of his rookie season grabbed the attention of First Team Head Coach Brian Schmetzer, who included him on his Open Cup roster and gave him the start on Wednesday night. In return, the 21-year-old recorded his first professional goal.

“It’s really hard to break into a First Team right away,” he said. “The name of my game recently has just been consistency.”

Kossa-Rienzi said he’s leaned on the veterans in the group for guidance and support, something that they’ve offered in spades to him and other young talent. They told him to keep training hard and opportunities like Wednesday would come.

“I’m really confident right now,” he said. “The team has been great to integrate into, all the older guys are really good to me, so it’s honestly just another day at the office. The team accepts me and pushes me to go do what I need to do out there.”

Schmetzer lauded Kossa-Rienzi’s performance as well and will feel that much better about potentially calling upon him again when the Sounders visit Sacramento Republic FC in the quarterfinals on July 9.

“The kid was extremely happy, and he made everybody on the bench and in the stands and the players—he made everybody happy,” said Schmetzer. “It was a great way to end the night.”



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