By CALEB SONNELAND
Upsets happen all the time in the US Open Cup. There just wasn't one on the cards for the Kitsap Pumas on Tuesday night.
The USL PDL side made the ferry ride across the Puget Sound to clash with the Seattle Sounders at a packed Starfire Sports complex in Tukwila, WA Tuesday night. But the visitors weren't able to get on level terms as a Mike Fucito brace inspired the Sounders to a nervy 2-1 win.
"I think they came in with a great deal of effort. When you look around at other scores, Dallas won in the 95th minute, Columbus lost, I don't know where LA is right now but all these games are like that," said head coach Sigi Schmid.
"I don't want to take anything away from the Pumas' efforts tonight. They put in a great game, they had a good game plan, stayed compact in the back and they posed some problems for us."
Fucito was finally able to open his 2011 account for Seattle as he slotted past Pumas 'keeper Bryan Meredith left-footed after being fed by strike partner Nate Jaqua. The Harvard product had previously been unable to find the back of the net in six straight starts before being demoted to the bench against the New England Revolution on Sunday.
But the striker wasn't done yet and notched a brace in the 64th minute. Fucito danced his way through the box and around three Pumas defenders before eventually blasting the ball into the back of the net to double the advantage.
"It was nice to finally score some goals," said Fucito. "I think we can always improve. We're happy with the win, but could we have done stuff better? Yeah."
The Pumas looked to be in for a long night as Seattle piled pressure on the visitor's goal, but Kitsap was able to find the net through Besagno in the 71st minute to spark the game back into life. Bahamian international Cameron Hepple fizzed a ball across the goal and Besagno was on hand to get a foot on it and give the Pumas some hope in the clash.
Though he let in two goals, the Pumas' Meredith had a stellar night in goal and kept several Sounders out of the net on a slew occasions, notably Miguel Montaño and Nate Jaqua. Meredith put in a quality Man of the Match performance for the visitors and will be proud of his shift between the sticks with six saves.
The Pumas had a golden opportunity to get back on level terms in the opening stages of the second half when defender Mark Lee couldn't convert a Robbie Christner cross. Terry Boss made a lung for the ball but misjudged it, leaving the net wide open for Lee, but the Puma could only find the sidenetting.
Despite being pinned back early in proceedings, the Pumas grew into the match and had the best chance of the early minutes when midfielder Nik Besagno poked a shot just wide of Terry Boss' goal after some confusion in the back led to him being alone in front of goal. For a good stretch of the match, the Pumas looked on top of things and were sharp.
Things got better for the Sounders as Jeff Parke was able enough to make an appearance in the game after having to leave the New England match due to "vision problems".
Not only was Sounders defender Zach Scott was able to line up and start against his younger brother Daniel Scott, but both were named captain of their respective sides.
The Sounders set up should have been awfully familiar to Pumas head coach Pete Fewing, who is the club's media analyst and typically does the pre-game, half-time and post-game shows for the Sounder's games.