TUKWILA, Wash. - The last time a team repeated as US Open Cup champions, Nate Jaqua was approaching his second birthday.
On Wednesday, his two goals propelled the Sounders FC to the Open Cup final for the second year in a row, giving them an opportunity to be the first team to repeat as champions since the New York Pancyprian-Freedoms accomplished the feat in 1983.
Fredy Montero added the third goal as the Sounders launched past Chivas USA 3-1 in front of a sellout crowd of 4,547 at Starfire Sports Stadium.
“Great win for us tonight and the chance to play a Final at Qwest Field in front of our fans is an unbelievable opportunity,” Jaqua said. “It was a great hard fought win by our guys and it was fun.”
Steve Zakuani also had a tremendous night and started it off with an assist in the 10th minute.
Osvaldo Alonso found Zakuani up the left side and it looked momentarily like Zakuani would lose it on the endline. But he recovered it in time to create some space and slide it to Jaqua at the six-yard box for a one-touch shot that beat Zach Thornton for a 1-0 lead.
"The first goal was Zakuani's,” Jaqua said. “He made a great run and he had one right before that and I tried to cut back and cut one back to me and he played it across. I decided I'd cut back in that way on the next one, and he was able to find me. A great ball and a great run by him.”
That score held until halftime and the Sounders caught fire to start the second half with Zakuani setting up Montero for a second goal in the 58th minute.
Zakuani took the ball up the left side of the box and popped it to the middle where Montero put it away for the 2-0 lead.
“I think he got a lot of respect early on, once he took them early and set up that first goal,” Schmid said of Zakuani. “If you can make magical moments like that or moments that impact games, that's what makes the difference in games.”
It was 10 minutes later that Chivas USA threatened Sounders goalkeeper Kasey Keller, who had just one first-half save on his way to five on the night.
A ball pinballed around the box before Justin Braun knocked it down to Jesus Padilla at the right post. Padilla blasted it past Keller to pull the visitors closer at 2-1.
However, Seattle didn’t panic and held their defensive form as the minutes rolled off the clock.
That’s when Jaqua put away all the insurance Seattle would need with his header off a Roger Levesque cross in stoppage time for his fifth goal of the tournament and a 3-1 Sounders lead.
Seattle will host the Columbus Crew - 2-1 winners over DC United Wednesday night - in the US Open Cup final October 5 at Qwest Field.
"It's sort of ironic that it's the team I'm coaching now against the team I used to coach and so obviously I know their whole coaching staff,” Schmid said. “I know a lot of their players there. So it's going to be emotional that way, but we are very happy that we are hosting the game. We want to sellout Qwest and we want to be able to hoist a trophy in front of all those people."
Tickets are available Thursday morning to season ticket holders and Tuesday morning to the general public. For more information, visit www.soundersfc.com.