Wednesday, June 30, 2010

SOUNDERS FC: Seattle uproots Timbers in U.S. Open Cup

In a game where momentum seemed to sway back-and-forth, the Sounders were able to manufacture a win and avoid elimitation. After holding the Timbers to a 1-1 tie after both15 minute overtime periods, despite losing Taylor Graham to a red card in the first overtime, Seattle prevailed over their soon-to-be MLS rivals 4-3 in penalty kicks.

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The victory at Portland’s PGE Park was the third time in the Sounders’ Open Cup history that they defeated the Timbers. Seattle is now 3-1 versus the Timbers when playing in the Open Cup tournament. It is also the second time Seattle has eliminated Portland from the competition.

The Sounders came out with a physical lineup, earning three yellow cards in the 90 minutes of regulation time. Seattle scored first, 13 minutes into the game, on a header by Nate Jaqua. Though the Sounders seemed to calm down after the goal, the Timbers would not be shut out in front of a sold out home crowd.

Portland forward Bright Dike was able to control a hurried pass in front of the Sounders goal late in the second half and rolled a weak shot past Kasey Keller as three Seattle defenders stood idle. The goal was not nearly as fluid as the goal Jaqua scored, but ugly or not, a goal is a goal (Except in the World Cup, apparently).

The defending Open Cup champions almost watched their title hopes slip away with several fouls called against them just outside their goal box. Seattle was balancing on a razor’s edge as the Timbers send wave after wave of seemingly undefended attacks. Both teams took their fair share of shots as each side attempted to pull ahead, but after 90 minutes Portland had a five shot advantage over the Sounders 15-10, which pretty much summarizes the game.

Seattle was lucky to advance to the next round and will need to control their opponent if they hope to make a second run for the championship. In their next Open Cup match, Seattle’s midfield must do a better job of smothering any attack. The defensive line needs to be just that, a line, to avoid a goal as unchallenged and embarrassing as Dike’s.

Seattle’s win allows the team to advance to the quarterfinals for the second time in as many years. The next tournament match is Wednesday the 7th of July at 7 p.m. at Starfire Sports Complex where they will face the L.A. Galaxy. For those of you wondering, yes, this means the Sounders will play two games against L.A. in the span of a week, the other game being played this Sunday in California.

Reach Galen Helmgren at