For a team only two years old there have been quite a number of big moments. The opening night against New York was special, last seasons 3-0 demolition of Colorado impressive, last week in Columbus was another great performance and of course there was winning the cup in DC last year. There have been some lows, most of the first half of this year that culminated in the atrocious performance in LA over July 4th weekend.
The Open Cup leads the march to the match
As an indication of how this team does things differently, the cup itself was carried into the stadium by two members of the ECS prior to the game. This franchise set out to be competitive from the start, to listen to the fans and create a community around the game. This has been helped by the club largely doing the right things both on and off the pitch.
Last night made the top of my list; there was an atmosphere perhaps even better than the opening night and the two teams gave us a game worthy of a cup final. They played positive, passing football and both sides went out looking for the win.
In a repeat of what went on last week in Ohio, Columbus never really had an answer for Seattle’s attack. In the middle was Nufko and Montero, whose very presence creates space on the outside for the outright pace of Zakuani and Nyassi.
A big night under the lights
At the other end of the field Tyson Wahl was in for Leo Gonzales and he struggled initially, but over the 90 minutes won the fight against Emmanuel Ekpo. Columbus’s other threat Schelotto was marked out of the game by Pat Ianni, who had maybe the best performance on the field.
It’s difficult to say Seattle dominated, but they spend long periods of time in control of the ball. There were times Seattle played a very pretty passing game, but the final passes were more often to feet rather than space for the runners to hit.
Late in the game
Columbus deserved their early lead. They had kept Seattle under pressure and the goal was a very well taken chance by Kevin Burns that came onto the end of a nice passing move around the Seattle box.
Sounders equalized shortly before the break and it was Sanna Nyassi who scored for the second game running. The Columbus keeper came for a cross and never came down with the ball and Nyassi slotted home to level the score.
Even when Seattle fell behind the noise never went out of Quest field, there was little doubt that Seattle was going to score and when Nyassi obliged the place just got louder. I hesitate to say Seattle were destined to win last night. I was nervous before the game, but once we’d made it to kick off I had no doubt that Seattle were going to win.
Seattle began the second half the stronger team, lots of possession but nothing that got past the Columbus defence until Jeff Parke missed a fairly straightforward chance at the back post. A few minutes later Nyassi scored his second. He was in just the right place to clean up from a Zakuani header that came back off the bar.
There was a late scare that bough an involuntary “fuck” from me. Robbie Rogers unleashed a big shot that rattled the underside of the crossbar, Keller was beaten but his luck held. The rebound fell kindly for Seattle and was quickly cleared down the field.
Shortly afterwards Nyassi came off to one of the loudest cheers of the evening, he was be replaced by Fernandez as Sigi tried to close the game down for the last 10 minutes. Those minutes dragged, but Keller’s goal was not seriously troubled again.
Eventually the ref blew for full time and I think it’s fair to say the Sounders were the better team on the night. Seattle retained the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup in front of 31,311. Quite the night at Quest, if you were there you know how good it felt.
A lap of the field post-game
On Saturday the team play Kansas City, all the team needs is a point to clinch play off football once again. Last year the team finished the season struggling to score goals and struggled against Houston in the playoffs. This year looks very different; the team in on great form, is scoring freely and dispatching the teams they should be.
Tonight was something special, about the only MLS night I’ve known at Quest to compare it with was the opening night last year and the 3-1 win over New York. This was a celebration of the beautiful game, what it can mean to a community. It’s rare for a side to win a major trophy in front of their home fans, that was a fun night.