OK, maybe that meme doesn't quite fit with the Sounders. BUT, the Sounders will have to find a bigger trophy case to fit BOTH of their TWO trophies. Yeah, that's right. It's two more trophies that Portland will ever see. They can always gaze through the plexi-glass case when they come up for games in Seattle next year though.
Speaking of next year, how would you guys like to just skip the last CCL group match against Deportivo Saprissa, and just shelve it for next season? The home game is pretty much meaningless, but only because we're going to be back in the CONCACAF Champions League next season! Thanks to the USOC Champion's berth, we get another crack at the world, only this time we'll be better prepared. Mmm, I like that.
To be honest, I've always liked the US Open Cup. Other than the failed innuendo, the first half of the title of this post kind of explains why we won it, again. Because we "take the Open Cup seriously, and we're in it to win it".
And, I've always felt like the Open Cup is just our thing. For me personally, it's always exciting, whether it was back in our USL days getting to face new competition at a higher level (my first Sounders game was a penalties win over Kansas City in the Open Cup), or even this season where we spanked on (evolutionary) distant relatives in Portland. Unlike most other MLS clubs, the Sounders and Sounders fans have always been able to embrace the Lamar Hunt Trophy.
We like it so much that we went out and got another trophy. To go with our first one.
The best thing about this win? I watched the game sitting on the floor of my just-moved-in apartment on a blurry feed with commentary in Spanish. Despite the fact that I was counting "tiros de esquina", I LOVED what I was watching. Arlo mentioned in his post-game review that what we were watching wasn't normal American level Open Cup play. If you go back and watch stretches of the match, you'll see incredible connecting passes, great one-two balls, and beautiful flair and style.
I think it was the best I've ever seen the Sounders play.
Man of the Match?
Let me just say, Sanna Nyassi is having a revelation of a streak right now, and it's not too different from one of my favorite players Florent Malouda. A quick aside: Florent Malouda was a staple in French football at Lyon, before his anticipated move to Chelsea. And his first two seasons at Chelsea, really, were just stinkbombs. But as you all know, once Malouda caught on fire, he morphed into the unstoppable force that he is today. The way with which he was able to adjust his game to a new league and new team allowed him to blossom.
That's exactly what I see is happening with Sanna Nyassi. Not only has it been just a mere two years that Nyassi moved from Gambia to Seattle, Nyassi was Seattle's first signing. I think a lot of us heard this and expected great things, even though we hardly knew anything about him, and we were suddenly confused as to why he was starting off our inaugural season on the bench. Yet in this last half of the season, Sanna has completely opened up, adding three goals in the last two games.
Little do we all know that Sanna was part of Gambia's magical U-17 dream team that won the African U-17 Cup, as well as in the Baby Scorpions team that upset Brazil 3-1 in the FIFA U-17 World Cup. It's not that Sanna came to Seattle just because his brother was in Boston. No, the kid can really play.
So it's no surprise that just as Florent Malouda has been given the captain's armband for France, that Sanna Nyassi, also experiencing what I call a "player's streak", had been called up for duty for The Gambia's next match against Burkina Faso.
Oh, but we have an important playoffs-or-go-home match this weekend against Kansas? Yeah. Sanna, who had a week and half to prepare for his flight to meet the team, somehow "screwed it up". To the effect that he is no longer flying out for the international and is staying with the team. You gotta laugh at that, the guy who's just reignited his scoring touch and off of a historic win for his club, missed the chance to play for his country. I'll bet you 5 bucks when he hung up that call, he just shrugged and laughed.
I'm not necessarily saying that Nyassi will be the next Malouda, but I am saying that Nyassi is one of the reasons why we won the game. Of course there was Blaise and Fredy and the saves that Kasey made, but looking at both of the goals that Sanna scored, you gotta understand the feeling in his feet. The kind of goals he scored were pure confidence and pure players' goals. The first one required incredible awareness of the goal and goalie, and the ability to finish strongly. The second was as basic as anything you tell an errant 6 year-old, "follow your shots". And judging by how Sanna has been able to finally let his feet run free, I think he's on that path to developing into a real gem and the answer to our right wing position.
Combine that with the fact that next year, we finally have the perfect balance of veteran leadership (at both ends), international experience, and bright youth, I think we can start to expect greater things out of Sanna Nyassi and the rest of the team.
But for now, I think it's better if we look towards this weekend.