Photo by Jane Gershovich/JaneG. Photography
By JASON MITCHELL
The Seattle Sounders are headed to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final for the fifth time in their brief six year history.
An early tap-in from Chad Barrett triggered a cascade of goals that featured braces from Andy Rose and Kenny Cooper and ended with a 6-0 Sounders victory over the Chicago Fire in front of 4,361 at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila, Wash.
Cooper also provided a pair of assists, as did Marco Pappa.
“Sometimes when it rains,” said Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid, “it pours.”
The Sounders, who won the Open Cup in 2009, 2010, and 2011 before falling to Sporting KC in 2012, will face the Philadelphia Union in the tournament final on Sept. 16 at PPL Park in Chester, Penn.
The Union punched their ticket to the final on Tuesday, dispatching FC Dallas on penalties in the other semifinal match.
Barrett opened the scoring in just the sixth minute, sneaking behind Chicago’s central defenders to scoop a Cooper through-ball into the net from just two yards out.
It was not the last time center backs Bakary Soumare and Jeff Larentowicz were caught out of position.
Rose, starting just his second match of the season in any competition, then added a pair of goals to put the match out of reach.
In the 33rd minute, Rose found himself unmarked at the back post on a Marco Pappa corner kick and sent an inch-perfect header just inside the frame.
A Pappa cross in the 54th minute once again found Rose unmarked at the corner of the 6-yard box, and once again Rose’s header beat goalkeeper Sean Johnson, putting the Sounders up 3-0.
“He’s been held back with injuries and trying to get his fitness back,” Schmid said about Rose after the match. “Andy is great, when he can come forward he is dangerous on set pieces like he is, and I thought he played some good balls in.”
Late substitute Obafemi Martins added the fourth goal on a 79th-minute counter. After forcing a turnover near midfield, Martins then received a backheel from Cooper, rounded Johnson, and finished into an empty net from 8 yards out.
Martins will miss Seattle’s weekend tilt against Real Salt Lake with a red card suspension.
Cooper finally ended the scoring with a pair of late goals. The big striker first headed home a beautiful 82nd-minute cross from DeAndre Yedlin, then just two minutes later sprinted onto a Martins through-ball that left him alone against Johnson for the sixth and final goal.
“I think (I’m) just shocked and stunned with the result,” said Fire head coach Frank Yallop, “but I just think Seattle was better in every sort of department. So that ends up a rout, which in the semifinal of anything is shocking. It’s not good.”
Both teams fielded mixed but strong lineups. Key absences included Mike Magee for Chicago, and Clint Dempsey, Leo Gonzalez, Djimi Traore and Chad Marshall for Seattle. Magee sat with a red card suspension.
The Sounders are now 17-0-1 at home in the U.S. Open Cup. They are also 11-0-1 at home against MLS opponents in the tournament, and have outscored MLS teams 31-7 in those 12 matches.
The lopsided result belied a competitive first half. Seattle only outshot Chicago 8-6 in the first 45 minutes, and goalkeeper Stefan Frei delivered diving saves to deny Quincy Amarikwa and Larentowicz.
Yallop, for one, harbored no delusions that a first-half strike would have made a difference.
“Whether we scored or not,” he said, “I don’t think it would have changed anything. It would have been 6-1. So, no you have to look at it as a whole. We’ve been battered by a good team at their place and that’s all you can say about that.”
Looking forward, both teams are back in action on Saturday. The Sounders visit Real Salt Lake in a matchup of the two best teams in the Western Conference, while Chicago looks to keep its playoff hopes alive with a visit to the Montreal Impact.
Here are the match highlights: