Photo by Jane Gershovich/JaneG. Photography
By JASON MITCHELL
It was never likely to be an easy night for the amateurs filling the PSA Elite roster.
They were on the road in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup, advancing further than a member of the fifth-tier United States Adult Soccer Association probably had any business advancing.
They were facing the Seattle Sounders, an MLS team four rungs up the American soccer pyramid, a team that has won the tournament three times in the last five years and that came into the night undefeated in more than a dozen Open Cup home matches.
It was not an easy night for PSA Elite.
A reserve-laden Seattle side started fast, got on the board just past the 20-minute mark, and strolled to a 5-0 win in front of 3,718 at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila, Wash.
Twenty-year-old homegrown player Aaron Kovar earned a penalty in the 23rd minute that Brad Evans converted. Kovar then picked up an assist seven minutes later, sending in a corner that veteran defender Zach Scott headed into the far netting. Before the visitors from Irvine, Calif., could catch their breath, Kenny Cooper headed in a cross from David Estrada for the 3-0 lead.
All before halftime.
Cooper added his second goal of the night off a 57th-minute corner kick, finishing with an over-the-head goal after the ball ping-ponged around the penalty area.
Homegrown rookie Sean Okoli, who assisted on the game-winning goal in Seattle’s season-opener, added a fifth goal off a Chad Barrett assist in the 85th minute.
The Sounders, the best team in MLS at the World Cup break, are trying to return to their Open Cup dominance.
Seattle won three straight Open Cup trophies from 2009 to 2011, fell to Sporting Kansas City on penalties in the 2012 final, and was upset by the lower-tier Tampa Bay Rowdies in the third round last year.
The Sounders next face the San Jose Earthquakes, who advanced to the Round of 16 after defeating USL Pro side Sacramento FC on Saturday. Seattle will host San Jose at Starfire on Tuesday night.
Much respect to PSA Elite. For “amateurs” they played like real professionals. No one got kicked. No excessive fouling. Just a clean game of soccer.
Next week the Sounders host San Jose. We are expecting the exact opposite from them.