By CALEB SONNELAND
In a rematch from last year's Third Round Open Cup fixture, the Seattle Sounders played host to the Los Angeles Galaxy with the hosts and defending champions trotting out to a 3-1 win and a spot in the next round.
With a goal and an assist, Nate Jaqua led the Sounders to the victory and picked up a Man of the Match award for his shift up top.
It didn't take long for the scoring to begin, as in the 4th minute as Jaqua was sprung free by a good through ball from newly-returned Pat Noonan to be left 1-on-1 with LA keeper Josh Saunders. Despite not having scored in the MLS this season, Jaqua slotted the ball away cooly to give Sigi Schmid a dream start to the fixture. Jaqua later found himself in prime real estate to score on several occasions, but the big man couldn't convert on any.
"We definitely came out strong, I think that goes with being at Starfire. We got an early goal, and with our crowd, that's got to eat at a visiting team," said Lamar Neagle.
But on the 25th minute, Jaqua turned provider. After squandering two golden opportunities to bag a brace, Jaqua laid off to Montero on the top of the box and the DP smashed a left-footed shot home at the near post to double the advantage.
Lamar Neagle finished the job late in the 73rd minute after some clever play from Alvaro Fernandez. The Uruguayan intercepted a pass from Greg Berhalter before cutting inside and slipping the ball into the feet of Lamar Neagle. The Washington native got a foot to the ball and nicked it past Saunders to seal the win.
Striker Adam Cristman had brought the Galaxy back into contention in the 40th minute when he smashed home a good cross from Chris Birchall. The goal revived the Galaxy at the tail end of the first half and LA would continue to force its way into the game.
But, despite looking threatening on a handful of occasions, the Galaxy couldn't click in the final third and time trickled out to a 3-1 loss.
"It was a good atmosphere, good environment, and the turf actualy played OK. But Seattle was good tonight, they deserved to win," said LA captain Landon Donovan.
"The first 20 minutes decided the game. It didn't have to do with the lineup, we just didn't come out with the proper mentality. We were naive. We should have been more safe in the back and played the ball up the field a little more. Instead, we tried to pass our way out of pressure."
Bruce Arena was quick to echo his captain's words. "Seattle's start to the game was excellent, our reaction was poor and we were dominated in the first 25 minutes of the game."
"We came out in the second half and did alright, but the third goal broke our backs. If you take away the first 25 minutes — which might be a pretty stupid statement — it got better and obviously at 3-1, we dug ourselves a hole and that's the way it is," said Arena. "The better team won the game."