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Extra-time goals push Sounders past Timbers in US Open Cup


Photo by Jane Gershovich/JaneG. Photography


TUKWILA, Wash. — Major League Soccer’s fiercest rivals met on a sultry midsummer night in the quarterfinals of the nation’s oldest soccer tournament, and the match provided just about everything anyone could have expected.

Brilliant strikes. Stellar goalkeeping. Player and coaching staff ejections. A last-gasp goal to force extra time. Even failing grandstand lights and a busted scoreboard that left fans keeping time on their phones.

In the end, the Seattle Sounders somehow survived on Wednesday without a penalty shootout, besting the Portland Timbers 3-1 in front of 4,233 at Starfire Stadium.

The victory advances the Sounders to the semifinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, where they will host the Chicago Fire on Aug. 13 at Starfire Stadium. The Fire topped the NASL’s Atlanta Silverbacks 3-1 earlier Wednesday night.

The Sounders’ win did not come easily. It took great work all night from Stefan Frei and a late one-man advantage.

With the score tied 1-1 in the 111th minute and Portland down to 10 men shortly after losing Diego Chara to a red card, late substitute Kenny Cooper got on the end of a cross from Gonzalo Pineda. The former Timber sent a glancing header over Donovan Ricketts’ outstretched hands for the 2-1 lead and his fourth goal of the 2014 tournament.

Marco Pappa sealed the victory less than five minutes later, getting free on the counter, creating space with a bit of mesmerizing footwork, and burying a 19-yard shot past a helpless Ricketts.

The Sounders are now 16-0-1 at home in the U.S. Open Cup. They are also 10-0-1 at home against MLS opponents in the tournament, and have outscored MLS teams 25-7 in those 11 matches.

Chara picked up the red card for a reckless tackle on Pappa in the first period of extra time. The Timbers bench vehemently protested the call, and assistant coach Cameron Knowles was ejected between extra-time periods—apparently for continuing to argue Chara’s card.

Seattle’s overtime strikes wouldn’t have been necessary but for some late magic from the Timbers, magic that has come to seem almost commonplace for Portland.

With just seconds left in regulation stoppage time and the Timbers pouring on the pressure, Darlington Nagbe finally broke through for Portland, working a quick one-two combination with Steve Zakuani before rifling an equalizing shot past goalkeeper Stefan Frei.

Only superb goalkeeping from Frei kept the Timbers off the board for the first 92 minutes. The first-year Sounder recorded eight saves and repeatedly denied Gaston Fernandez, who came into the match riding back-to-back Open Cup braces.

Frei first pawed a long-distance Ferndandez shot over the crossbar in just the fifth minute, then snuffed out two more Fernandez attempts in the 21st and 57th minutes, denied Fernandez in the 84th minute while still on the ground from a previous save, and, finally, dropped to stuff a Fernandez rocket in the 102nd minute.

Osvaldo Alonso opened the scoring in the 69th minute, soaring at the back post to high kick a Lamar Neagle cross off both Ricketts and the crossbar to put the Sounders up 1-0. It was Alonso’s first goal of the season in any competition.

With a nationally-televised match against each other looming this weekend, both teams fielded mixed but strong starting lineups. Key absences included Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins, and Marco Pappa for the Sounders, and Will Johnson and Darlington Nagbe for the Timbers. Pappa, Johnson, and Nagbe all played significant second-half minutes.

The loss ends the Timbers’ quest to return to the semifinals, where they were ousted by Real Salt Lake ousted last year. It is also another disappointment in a largely underwhelming season. Expected by many to contend for the MLS Cup and the Supporters’ Shield, the Timbers currently have just 21 points from 18 matches and sit outside the playoff picture, although they are second in the league in scoring with 30 goals.

With the win, Seattle is now two victories away from winning the tournament for the fourth time in six years. Seattle lifted 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 an early round match last year.

The stadium’s lone scoreboard and clock went dark in the 85th minute, leaving fans guessing or tracking time themselves for the remainder of the match.

Looking forward, the Sounders (11-4-2, 35 points) will host the Timbers (4-5-9, 21 points) at CenturyLink Field on Sunday evening in league play.


    • He was great. Really playing with a lot of confidence. Early in MLS 2014, he wasn’t really at great status.

    • I thought he looked good, considering he hasn’t played with this team in over a month now and is just coming off a WC. He was subbed off at 90 minutes, presumably to avoid over exertion. He had some nice runs forward, showed off his speed several times, and was pretty solid 1 vs 1. Crossing was not as sharp though compared to the WC, and slowed a bit at the end.

    • Oh come on! You’re telling me a two-footed scissor tackle from behind is a red these days?! It was a tackle Roy Keane would have been proud of! It’s all part of that conspiracy against Portland…

  1. New MLS fan here so forgive me if this is an ignorant question but can someone explain to me what it means to be a “single-entity” league? I looked it up online but I am still unclear. What I understand is that the league controls everything but the teams still have owners. If anyone can elaborate, I would greatly appreciate it.

    • The biggest factor concerning single-entity is that MLS owns the rights to the players instead of the individual teams. MLS has to approve the transfer fee and salary for any player coming in or out of the league. This is why players are traded more freely in MLS compared to other leagues, teams do not have to worry about transfer fees and players cannot reject a trade (unless they manage to get a no-trade clause in their contract (has any player ever had one?)).

    • Continuing where Bryan left off,

      Technically, the league owns 51% of every team. Team owners technically own a 1/19th (soon to be 1/21st next season) share of the whole league. Of the revenues that a team earns for tickets, merch, concessions, etc. some majority percentage goes to the league i.e. the other 18 shareholders. Therefore if one team makes money, then both the owner AND the other owners make money too. If a team loses money, some part of the losses are covered by the league and some majority fraction is covered by that particular owner.

      Because of the extra revenues related to owning your own soccer specific stadium, some teams can lose money on paper while the league and owner still makes money due to extra revenues from other events at the stadium.

      The league owning 51% (where the league is the consortium of team owners and Commissioner Garber is the professional manager acting on their behalf) is why the league employs and pays the players except in special circumstances like DP’s where the owner is on the hook for over $350k. The league doesn’t technically have a salary cap, it has a salary budget. The league distributes an equal salary budget to each team which in effect acts the same as a cap from the perspective of a soccer competition. Then there are exceptions like DP’s and allocation money which extra money on top of the normal salary budget and is obtained through selling players, qualifying for CONCACAF, winning the Open Cup, finishing low in the standings, and trading.

      In a nutshell, the league is set up for stability and slow growth. The owners/management all have pride and want to see their team win because they like winning and they make more money that way. However, they also agree to share in order to minimize the risks because one owner’s profits depend on their being other viable opponents to play against. The owners are financially incentivized to care about the overall health of the league rather than just their own team like in the old NASL and the modern EPL.

      • Thanks.

        You say it is set up for slow growth, so it is overachieving ?

      • Thanks for your replies. I am a new fan to the league and have really enjoyed what I have seen. I’m on board!

  2. We now return you our regularly scheduled programming, an actual discussion of the Seattle vs. Portland USOC quarterfinal match that featured two MLS sides in a fascinating duel.

    • Sorry, awesome game. The author sort of touched on it, but you had the feeling Portland would score. They always do ( or give one up late ). And Seattle was being so non-chalant about finishing the game off.

      Nagbe can play and he made it interesting and made all of us miss another 1/2 hour of sleep.

      Go Sounders !

  3. Thought this would kill the posts from the haters and whiners. No.
    Just made them get more rediculous.

    The Sounders made the semi-final in 2008 too when they were not part of the whiners Evil Conspiracy. So that puts them in the semi-finals 6 out of the last 7 years.

    Fun times in Seattle.

    • Easy to say, if your club is one of the priviledged members of oligarchy. Not so simple for the majority of us who support non MLS clubs.

      Anyways, enjoy your NFL style league. My guess is you guys will exist outside any eventual open pyramid for quite some time.

      • PoorLazyBastard,

        If you knew anything at all, you would know that the Sounders were in that situation.

        In fact, even more so, their OWNER, Oki, didn’t like the structure of MLS. So he stayed out. And I of course went to all the games. So did many others.
        But for some reason, the league didn’t thrive….at all. The Sounders went for a league that was going to thrive and where million and millions of dollars of profit would be made. Many others will do the same.
        MLS will be outside of the pyramid forever….it will never have pro/rel…. neither will any league in the US.

        So what ? It is great soccer…that will survive. As opposed to the old NASL, and probably the current one, that was great soccer that didn’t survive.

      • History clearly shows with 99.9% of idealistic, anti-establishment revolutionary movements, that even when successful in overthrowing the status quo… the eventuality isn’t in eliminating the privileged oligarchy… just in replacing “your people” with “my people” atop the ruling class.

        Let’s be honest, promotion relegation in most leagues is nothing more than throwing crumbs to the working class to placate them. The top 5 clubs ain’t going anywhere. League marketing, corporate sponsorship, TV contracts and vast discrepancies in operating budgets virtually assures this.

  4. If anyone doesn’t know, Soccer United Marketing is a business partnership between the federation that governs all the leagues (US Soccer) and one of the leagues it governs (MLS). They require MLS to be bundled into US National Team television deals, and they split profits on international friendlies held in the US.

    US Soccer also oversees the Open Cup. NASL and MLS are competing for markets right now, so there are millions of dollars on the line in that battle. Keeping NASL clubs from winning the Open Cup could be good for business as far as US Soccer is concerned. And match fixing does happen in this sport, does it not? It’s not that farfetched…

    • So, the fact that there is no doubt that an average MLS team has way more talent and money than an average NASL team has nothing to do with all-MLS semis?

      • I guess you didn’t watch Philly v New York, Indy v Columbus, or Atlanta v Chicago. All games were razor close with questionable penalties awarded to MLS clubs at the end. Talent gap is not that large at all, but you have to actually watch the games to find that out.

        The so called “punk football” movement is starting to accomplish some things around the world, including increased supporter ownership and keeping tickets affordable for working class fans. (See the book Punk Football for an excellent intro to this movement.)

        One thing we will accomplish here is an open pyramid.

      • Sounds like a day dream to me. Punk football? LMAO Somebody needs to tell these strutting alt types that it’s all been done before.

      • You’re right, it has. Most soccer clubs were supporter owned decades ago. Now that approach is returning with clubs like AFC Wimbledon, FC United Manchester and – in the US – Nashville FC. There are also great organizations like accomplishing quiteva bit. Check out the “Punk Football” movie on Youtube. Do a little research before being so dismissive.

      • Oh, and most Bundesiga clubs are 50% supporter owned, and Barca and Real Madrid are 100% supporter owned. Day dream indeed…

    • So, clearly that’s why the two most popular MLS franchises (in terms of tick sales and consecutive sellouts) played each other last night? Because the conspiracy thrives on eliminating one of them?

      • Tony please do not bring up exceptions when they are cherry picking ( very badly I might add ) instances that they hope bring up a case for conspiracy and reasons to hate.

  5. Annnnd the ref pushes Chicago past Atlanta, with with the umteenth late penalty of the 2014 Open Cup awarded out of nowhere to an MLS club.

    Good US Soccer fixing these NASL games for your Soccer United Marketing biz partner, MLS.

      • How is it a monopoly when you are rooting for teams in another league….and there are other leagues too ?

        I don’t think that you quite understand the concept of a monopoly….and by “quite”, I mean at all.

      • Easy. MLS clubs have monopoly on D1 status in this country. And they are all biz partners with organization that grants that status. No way to enter D1 for clubs not willing to sign away their brand and pay millions of dollars. Compared to rest of world footy, this is a monopoly.

      • And how did they get D1 status, was it granted to them from on high? I think they did the marketing and the promotion that made them that way.

      • Keep beating that drum!

        The Cup receiving 1 CCL spot right now if fair but if nasl, usl, asl, etc could ever organize and create something out of levels 2-4 (pro-rel?) then you would have an arguement.

    • No one cares about this mickey mouse tournament enough to fix it. I know this is the super bowl to NASL fans but no one else cares. Your team will disappear as soon as MLS comes to town anyway so enjoy it while you can.

    • Check the highlights on the Fire website. This was an obvious penalty. Also, the fire scored AGAIN from the run of play to make it 3-1, so even without the penalty they would have won.


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