U.S. Open Cup

Seattle ends Cal FC run with two braces

Fredy Montero (AP)


TUKWILA, Wash. – Much that unfolded Tuesday night at Starfire Sports Stadium eerily echoed Cal FC’s match just a week earlier, three hours down the road in Portland.

Until it didn’t.

A pair of second-half braces fueled the Seattle Sounders to a 5-0 U.S. Open Cup romp that ended with Seattle fans chanting, "This ain't Portland."

The victory advances the Sounders through to the quarterfinals, which slate them to visit the San Jose Earthquakes on June 26.

But for 49 minutes the fifth-tier amateur side once again stymied a much more pedigreed MLS team that controlled the run of play and pounded shot after shot toward the Cal FC goal.

For 49 minutes the Sounders couldn’t translate possession and shots into a goal, struggling to penetrate Cal FC’s 3-5-2. And as the match neared halftime, the Sounders' inability to find the back of the net caused a palpable frustration both on the pitch and among the 3,894 Seattle fans packing tiny Starfire. A frustration the Portland Timbers and their army would surely find familiar.

How quickly things changed.

Just four minutes after the break referee Daniel Radford called a handball in the box on Cal FC midfielder Jesus Gonzalez. Seattle midfielder Osvaldo Alonso calmly drilled the ensuing penalty low into the left corner, nabbing the first of his two goals, opening the onslaught, and shattering Cal FC's celebrated glass boot.

"I think the first goal really was a punch in the gut" said Cal FC coach Eric Wynalda. "Because it was a penalty kick again. It felt like we were reliving Portland again. But Alonso didn’t make a mistake."

With rare exception, the game barely left the Sounders’ attacking third for the rest of the match. Seattle would end up outshooting Cal FC 28-4.

More goals seemed inevitable, and the first came in the 59th minute, courtesy of Fredy Montero on a snazzy assist from Cordell Cato.

A flurry of three goals in five minutes then buried Cal FC, the sudden sweethearts of the American soccer community.

Joked Wynalda: ”I thought we were OK after four, but the fifth one got us.”

Andy Rose knocked in the first of the three in the 67th minute, off a corner kick that pingponged dangerously around the box before inadvertently finding Rose. It was just his second goal in a Sounders' uniform, but also his second in a week.

“He’s done very, very well," Sounders' coach Sigi Schmid said of the rookie from UCLA, "and he’s added an important piece to us. He’s come through with some goals here and there, but he’s really helped us in terms of just linking play together."

Fredy Montero then completed his brace in the 69th minute, scoring off a bending free kick from about 23 yards out that, unfortunately for Cal FC, Sammy Ochoa just missed redirecting with his head.

Referee Daniel Radford ruled, after a lengthy conference, that while Ochoa was offside he didn't influence the play. It appeared, however, that Ochoa's attempted header may have briefly frozen goalkeeper Derby Carillo.

Alonso capped both his brace and the scoring with the goal of the night in the 70th minute. Striding up the center of the pitch, Alonso received a crisp pass from Alex Caskey and without hesitation catapulted a 35-yard shot that soared over Carillo before ducking under the crossbar.

Alonso, who usually answers questions through a translator, needed no assistance when asked if it was the best goal of his career.

"Yep," he replied with a smile.

"Even I stood up and applauded it," said Wynalda. "It was probably one of the best goals I've seen in awhile."

With MLS sides falling all around them, Seattle has outscored its two Open Cup opponents 10-1, utilizing mixed but strong lineups in both matches. 

“The Open Cup the last two weeks has been good for us," said Schmid, "because we had a bit of a struggle, and it’s allowed us to rest some people, to get some people’s legs back under them. [It's] given a chance for some other people to step out and play. And obviously the confidence of the team when you score goals always improves.” 

For Cal FC, the loss ends a wondrous run and leaves the team—put together for the purposes of entering the U.S. Open Cup—with an uncertain future.

Wynalda put much of the blame for the loss on himself, saying, "I’ll stay true to my word that players win games and coaches lose them. This one goes on my shoulders, I think we could have been a little more offensive-minded, and I could have trusted them a little bit more. ‘Cause we really just were chasing the game after about 55 minutes."

"We just wanted to get to about the 60th minute and then throw some forwards on the field," he added later, "but we never got there."

Nonetheless, the American soccer legend was happy with the run his team put together, and optimistic about what it might mean for his players' futures.

"I think they've proven they can play," he said, "and hopefully they'll get to play at a better address."

  • Charles

    So when Wynalda did the same thing against Portland, his players won the game, but this time he lost it ?

    Hmmmm, not making a lot of sense ( not like he ever does, I guess ).

    Cal FC would have been crushed 5-0 in the first half if they had gone out and tried to be aggressive offensively….against the Timbers.

    Seeeee44444444ttle Soooooouuuunders.


  • JRP

    Congrats to Seattle. You guys are wining all the games that don’t matter for the fourth straight year. I tip my hipster hat your way. Perhaps by qualifying for Concacaf by wining the Open Cup you will open the door for a team that has a chance to advance in the tournament. Thanks.


  • JRP

    I was being inflammatory. What I should have said is the following. Is it smart for Seattle to take the same approach to Open Cup when it hasn’t really helped them in league games come playoff time or Concacaf play? They would have qualified last year for Concacaf anyway but because they won Open Cup it opened up the door for RSL to enter the tournament. Is the team management making the correct decision to place so much stock in this tournament when it is the only hardware the team has picked up in their existence? Don’t the fans of this team deserve better decision making from the front office?
    Of course I was being sarcastic but the questions are legit. Is it really the best move for the franchise? That is not trolling. It is legit commentary and questioning.


  • paul lorinczi

    For a team that has no time to practice, Cal FC played very well.

    There were times they put together passes that most MLS teams have a hard time doing. Hats off to them and the run they made.


  • Charles

    Feeding the troll.

    Only hardware in its existance ? Are you talking the three plus years in MLS ? Wow, imagine that…..Or do you just not know what you are talking about ? Wow, imagine that.


  • Jenny

    How exactly are they placing “so much stock” in this tournament? More than a couple teams that place absolutely no stock in it? Sure, but they’re in a lull in their schedule and look at that lineup.

    Only Montero, Ozzie, and *maybe* a couple defenders are regular starters, and Montero didn’t play last week’s Open Cup match and got pulled when the game was out of hand last night. Ozzie is facing MLS suspensions so actually needs some run, whether in a reserve match or Open Cup action.

    Just because the Sounders are deeper than most MLS teams doesn’t mean they’re jeopardizing anything by exercising that depth. Quite the opposite.


  • JRP

    Interesting how you guys call me names and make personal attacks when I am questioning strategy. Why can’t these boards be more about strategy, technique, theory and stats instead of good game or bad game. I realize I was being sarcastic at first but even after I dropped that tone you guys still attack. There is not a Sounders fan in this world who was satisfied with last years playoff loss to RSL. The result the year before was even worse. Sounders can do better. Is it wrong to question the moves of management? They aren’t infallible. Most of the other top teams in the league are resting now. Seattle will play two games a week for the foreseeable future. I don’t think that is wise.


  • lassidawg

    The Sounders from day 1 have said if they are playing in a game they are trying to win that game.

    The MLS playoffs are important, but it takes lucky breaks to win the thing. If the USSF is going to put a CCL bid in the open cup why not go for it. I don’t get why people get so bent out of shape over Seattle doing whatever it takes to win the Open Cup.

    The Sounders have done an excellent job in the scouting department to create depth each year.

    The next game in the USOC will be a true test of how serious the Sounders are going to take it.

    MLS game at portland June 24

    USOC at San Jose 26th or 27th

    MLS game at NE 06/30

    MLS Game at RSL 07/04

    Here is the question to ask?

    Would Portland or Union fans take 3 cup titles and losing in the playoffs or take what they have. This is only their 4th season, even though it seems a lot longer


  • Luis F

    Agreed. Some of the Cal FC players approached the game with a confidence on the ball that is not very common in MLS. There were some clever passing sequences, and some clever dribbling by a few guys. In the end, just not polished enough. But it was fun to see them display their technical abilities.


  • Knuckles

    The SSFC FO has made it a priority to compete in all three tournaments. The USOC is of equal priority to the Sounders as the league and CCL. The intent is, and has been all along, to build a team that is deep enough to compete in all three tournaments successfully. Theirs is a long-term strategy that I, for one, appreciate as a long-time and long-suffering Seattle sports fan.


  • Tim

    Great job by Cal FC. I think Wynalda got it right tactically as far as he could. Technically they had some ability, but lacked the fitness (not bad for the short time they were together) and in the end probably some skill to a good MLS side. Some of those guys could and probably will be in the MLS in the future.

    Was Ochoa really offside on that goal? It was hard for me to see on my terrible internet connection. I know there was another player who was off, but for some reason I thought Ochoa was on. I still don’t like letting any player be near the goal and say he’s not affecting the play though. The keeper and the defense still have to keep tabs on him so to me, that’s influencing the play.

    Trying not to feed the trolls more, but starters were used on the back line for Seattle because of all the injuries. I would love to see Tetteh get some playing time.


  • WileyJ

    +1. I agree, we should probably play Tetteh sometime, considering how much we’re paying him. $88k


  • maschu

    JRP–similarly, I don’t know why Cal FC even bothered to prioritize this tournament when they aren’t even winning in their league. They should be concentrating on winning La Gran Liga de Oxnard (actual name according to wiki) rather than risking their players’ health against MLS sides. Their management is horrible, and should be fired (looking at you Wynalda).

    Neither team should have shown up, and tournaments shouldn’t even exist. This would have been the best outcome for fans everywhere.


  • Tim

    My only thought on Cal FC prioritizing this is that they are sponsored by Fox Sports, this tournament gave them more recognition and probably money because of it. I don’t follow them at all so I can’t really comment on their league performance or management.

    I personally like these types of tournaments. Most, if not all, international leagues run similar tournaments. It’s part of soccer. I love seeing the little teams compete and sometimes beat the top teams. It also gives rookies and bench players meaningful playing time.


  • Tim

    I think Tetteh is still coming back from his quad injury. That may be what Knuckles just said, but I’m not sure what GA is.


  • Tim

    Don’t forget that the defenders that played had to because of injuries to our D. We didn’t have a defender on the bench (though they could slide Levesque or Carasco back if they had to).


  • Maschu

    It was sarcasm. Just flipping the argument around to show the silliness of it.


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