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Quick Review: Sounders Are U.S. Open Cup Champs, Again

No need to get cute: The Sounders are still the best club team in the United States.

No, they aren't going to win the Supporters' Shield, they might not win the MLS Cup, but don't let anyone tell you the Sounders won an insignificant trophy tonight.

On their way to the U.S. Open Cup championship, the Sounders had to travel to the home of their biggest historical rival and win on penalty kicks; they then had to beat the best team in MLS -- who had already beaten them twice this year -- and did so with room to spare; and they finished it off by beating one of the most successful teams in MLS history, which also happened to be having a pretty good season themselves, after going down a goal in the 24th minute.

Tuesday's 2-1 victory over the Columbus Crew in front of an Open Cup record crowd of 31,311 people made the Sounders the first MLS team to ever repeat as champions, and the first club to go back-to-back since the New York Pancyprian-Freedoms did the double in 1982-83.

This is a huge accomplishment, no matter what the naysayers tell themselves. If you were there you could feel the energy that only comes when a title is on the line. If you watched it on TV, I'm sure you could sense that this was not just another match.

When Sanna Nyassi scored his second goal to give the Sounders their first lead, Qwest Field exploded into a wild sea of bouncing, cheering bodies. When Robbie Rogers nearly equalized in the closing minutes, you could feel 31,000 hearts skip a beat. And when the final whistle blew, you didn't need fireworks to tell you history had just been made.

Even more telling was the way the players reacted: Kasey Keller looked like a teenager while climbing the goal frame, attempting to sit on the net, falling through and then bouncing up like nothing strange had happened; many of the players took turns raising the Dewar Cup and they all lingered on the field well after the trophy ceremony had ended; and they even managed to give coach Sigi Schmid a champagne shower. 

"I know there's teams out there that say they don't take the Open Cup seriously, but if you're not going to take something seriously, then don't enter," Schmid said. "For us, we're in the competition and we're in the competition to do our best and to win it and we've been able to do that. It does stand us out, but we've worked hard to get there."

There will be plenty of time to analyze this match. There will be lots of opportunities to spin Nyassi's brace into a legendary feat. Steve Zakuani's dominance of the left wing will get its proper due. Blaise Nkufo's holdup play will not go unnoticed. Fredy Montero's ever improving ability to contribute without scoring will have ample word devoted to it.

Right now, I think we should just sit back and enjoy this victory. 

The Sounders have secured a place in history and no one can take that from us. 

Stats and Quotes after the jump.

Goals by Period




Columbus Crew




Seattle Sounders





Scoring Summary:


CLB -- Kevin Burns (Steven Lenhart) 24

SEA -- Sanna Nyassi (unassisted) 38

SEA -- Sanna Nyassi (Steve Zakuani) 66


Columbus Crew -- Andy Gruenebaum, Frankie Hejduk, Chad Marshall, Andy Iro, Shaun Francis, Eddie Gaven (Robbie Rogers 81), Brian Carroll, Emmanuel Ekpo, Kevin Burns (Emilio Renteria 78), Steven Lenhart (Andres Mendoza 78), Guillermo Barros Schelotto.

Substitutes Not Used: Eric Brunner, Adam Moffat, Gino Padula, William Hesmer

TOTAL SHOTS: 10 (Eddie Gaven 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 1 (Kevin Burns 1); FOULS: 10 (4 tied with 2); OFFSIDES: 0; CORNER KICKS: 2 (Guillermo Barros Schelotto 2); SAVES: 3 (Andy Gruenebaum 3)

Seattle Sounders -- Kasey Keller, James Riley, Patrick Ianni, Jeff Parke, Tyson Wahl, Sanna Nyassi (Alvaro Fernandez 79), Osvaldo Alonso, Nathan Sturgis, Steve Zakuani (Roger Levesque 89), Fredy Montero (Nate Jaqua 89), Blaise Nkufo.

Substitutes Not Used: Tyrone Marshall, Zach Scott, Mike Seamon, Terry Boss

TOTAL SHOTS: 10 (Fredy Montero 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Fredy Montero 3); FOULS: 11 (Fredy Montero 3, James Riley 3); OFFSIDES: 0; CORNER KICKS: 6 (Nathan Sturgis 6); SAVES: 0


Misconduct Summary:

SEA -- James Riley (caution; Reckless Tackle) 23

CLB -- Shaun Francis (caution; Reckless Tackle) 28

CLB -- Brian Carroll (caution; Reckless Tackle) 41

SEA -- Osvaldo Alonso (caution; Reckless Foul) 74

SEA -- Sanna Nyassi (caution; Reckless Tackle) 75

CLB -- Guillermo Barros Schelotto (caution; Tactical Foul) 87


Referee: Michael Kennedy

Referee's Assistants: -Thomas Supple; Paul Scott

4th Official: Ricardo Salazar

Attendance: 31,311

Time of Game: 1:51

Weather: Clear-and-60-degrees


Seattle Sounders FC vs. Columbus Crew Postgame Quotes - October 5, 2010

(General comments . . .) "The good news is that I've stayed dry until now...I lied." 

"I'm very, very proud of these guys. I'm happy that Sanna didn't make me wait two years for his next goal. They're a good team. I thought it was a good game throughout with two good teams playing against each other. I thought there was some good soccer that was played by both teams. We caught a break at the end when they hit the crossbar. You work hard to make your own luck. We showed a lot of character going down 1-0 and coming back. Attitude of our team has been very strong that way. Really proud and what we accomplished tonight is super. It sets us apart and makes us unique and this is the kind of franchise when Adrian [Hanauer], Joe [Roth], Drew [Carey] and Tod Leiweke and the rest of the internal ownership group and everyone else who works at this organization wanted us to be something unique, something special, something different. The fans were fantastic. That's the loudest I've heard this place. Nobody left at the end of the game. A lot of times you see celebrations at the end of the game where the stadium is half empty, everyone was there for the cup presentation. I can't say enough about our fans. They're just fantastic."

(On winning Open Cup in the first two years of the franchise . . .) "Always hope so. We hoped that it could happen fast and we had the opportunity. I know there's teams out there that say they don't take the Open Cup seriously, but if you're not going to take something seriously, then don't enter. For us, we're in the competition and we're in the competition to do our best and to win it and we've been able to do that. It does stand us out, but we've worked hard to get there."

(On full team contribution...) "Everybody played a role and everybody played a part. Today, because of too many foreigners, we couldn't play Leo [Gonzalez], but everyone scored a goal somewhere along the line or had involvement in scoring a goal or had a stop or made a good play in midfield. It shows the depth of our roster. What our team went through at the beginning of the season where we played some good soccer and didn't get the results. Having had to go through that has made us a better team because you have to go through some adversity sometimes to grow. I think that is what has allowed us to believe that we can come back in games like that. Between the Champions League games, even though we haven't done as well there, it has really allowed our roster confidence. Between the Open Cup and Champions League everyone has had a role and participated and that has made us a good team."

(On building off this for rest of season...) "The feeling you have right now and the memory you carry away from this game has to spur them on to create another memory like this. Tomorrow we won't practice, but after that get back to work. When I was coaching the Galaxy, we won the MLS Cup on a Saturday and had to play the Crew in the Open Cup final on a Thursday. We never got to fly home and the guys were still probably hungover going into the game. We have to get focused again and have to get on with it. Once you have this taste in your mouth, you want to do it again."

(On the Columbus Crew...) "He's [Robert Warzycha] a good coach and they came out more tactically disciplined. They sat back a little bit and really tried to double-team Zakuani and tried to drop [Eddie] Gavin in on Sanna [Nyassi]. They tried to double team our wing play. Our guys are pretty good, so they still got it. We talked about it at halftime, about different ways to free them up a little bit because for us wing play is very important. I knew they would come with extra forwards in the end with four up front and two in midfield and push the issue. He's a good coach and they're a good team. Understanding them a little bit certainly helps, but they understand us too."

(On comparing to other championship wins...) "I never compare them, every one is great. Losing motivates me to work harder and winning is what motivates me to keep going day after day. When you win, you don't want to compare them. I just feel very blessed and very fortunate in my years of coaching that I have had great players that have allowed me to win some championships because I can't go out there and kick a ball. They have to go out there and kick a ball. Those guys in the locker room are the ones who deserve it and they should all be sitting here right now."


Adrian Hanauer - Sounders FC General Manager

(On winning the Open Cup . . .) "It feels great. It feels tremendous. Obviously an amazing night. The weather, the fans, just the atmosphere and then to get the win, it's a great feeling."


(On celebrating at Qwest Field . . .) "It is fantastic and our fans deserve it. They stick with us 32,000 strong and they are still with us. We felt like we owed it to them."


(On the Open Cup . . .) "We like any competition and hopefully we build that culture. The guys want to win anytime they go on the field."


(On Sanna Nyassi . . .) "Very. Obviously it started last week against Toronto and to get a couple of goals tonight, huge, huge goals, couldn't be happier for him. He is supposed to fly in the morning to Gambia so I'm sure that flight will be a lot nicer."


Sanna Nyassi - Sounders FC Midfielder

(On scoring goals . . .) "Yeah, it's a good feeling tonight. After breaking the deadlock the other day the chances came tonight and I made sure I finished both of them. Victory for us. We set a record in history, the first [MLS] team to win the trophy twice in a row. Good feeling."


(On his confidence . . .) "My confidence keeps growing after scoring two goals tonight. I make sure that I continue working hard at training. Make sure that I do a lot of finishing at training. Whenever the chances come I make sure that I take them."


Kasey Keller - Sounders FC Goalkeeper

(On winning the Open Cup . . .) "I have been fortunate enough to be on the winning podium but I have also had the disappointment of being on the losing side. Obviously commiserations to Columbus. It's not a fun thing to be a part of. But tremendous for our fans to be able to experience this. We were obviously extremely disappointed last year not being able to host this thing and having to win it in D.C. So to be able to come back here and win it in front of our home fans, set a new record of attendance shows how good this team is. It's so important. This competition was won by a whole squad. We made wholesale changes throughout the competition and those guys, it didn't matter what team was on the field. They stepped up and showed the pride for the club to come out and win every time. And that's not so with a lot of teams in the league. Credit to the squad. Credit to the team. And just, what a great night."


(On comeback victories . . .) "It shows great character. Early on in the season when we conceded a goal it kind of looked like we were over and done with. We have a lot of pride at the moment that we don't feel like we are going to lose. We can go a goal down and we can come back and we can win things. We could've won this thing more comfortably. In the end, the width of the crossbar saved us a little bit. But that's the way the game goes. We got the win. I'm just very proud of the way we just keep fighting now. I mean throughout the whole game it just shows you that we are in good form and we got four league games left to finish this thing off and get us in great position for the playoffs."


Steve Zakuani - Sounders FC Midfielder

(On winning the Open Cup . . .) "Amazing. Look at this. Amazing. Dream come true. We played well. Came back from behind against a good team. I'm happy for Sanna [Nyassi], too. Great win."


(On not losing in Open Cup . . .) "We have to win. We just have to win. [. . .] Big game today [. . .] We have made history back to back.  It's amazing."


(On repeating as champions . . .) "It's better. To repeat is much tougher. And winning at home is amazing. It's a great night."


(On comeback victory . . .) "We are playing great. We played fantastic tonight."


Patrick Ianni - Sounders FC Defender

(On winning the Open Cup . . .) "It feels great right now. To do it in front of the home fans, it's indescribable. I don't have words to put it into."


(On winning at home . . .) "Way different feeling in front of our home fans. We had maybe 300 last year and then they all showed up at the airport as well, which was a very special feeling. I'll never forget. This I'll definitely never forget. Unbelievable."


(On comeback victory . . .) "I don't know exactly. I know we fight really hard. We keep going like we have to. I think it shows a lot of character and we are going to need that down the stretch here. You can go down in a game but it's a 90 minute game so you have to keep fighting."


(On going down a goal . . .) "You're bummed but you still have got 60 minutes and we have got a lot of talented players on our team. I knew that we would get one and once we got one, it would come again. Sanna [Nyassi] did a great job finishing his chances tonight. Obviously made all of us happy, all 30,000 of us here."



Robert Warzycha - Crew Head Coach


(On his impressions from the match...) "We limited Seattle to few chances today. If you look at the first five minutes they had momentum but we scored a goal. They really possessed the ball side to side. They scored right before the half and that hurt a lot. In the second half we attacked very well, and they only had a few chances. The second goal just came out of nowhere."


(On adjusting to Seattle speed on offense...) "They have a tremendous amount of speed on the wings. Steve Zakuani is a fast guy and we don't have someone who can keep up. We had to bring someone on over and double team him."


(On the two goals Seattle scored...) "The first one Andy [Gruenebaum] punched the ball and it ended at Seattle and we didn't apply pressure right away and he got a free shot. The second one [Steve] Zakuani got in behind us and was able to get a shot off.  [Sanna] Nyassi was able to get the deflection and put a shot right on in. That second goal came from nowhere."


(On being able to doing anything differently...) "Scored some more goals. Sometimes you have to get some luck we didn't get today."


(On starting Andy Gruenebaum today...) "Whether it is the U.S. Open Cup or MLS match we feel confident in starting Andy [Gruenebaum]. He did well today."


(On getting his team prepared for their next match...) "Win or lose that is the last game of the tournament. We have to focus on our next match and the playoffs. We are disappointed to lose the final but we are mentally strong."


(On the atmosphere at Qwest Field affecting his team...) "It is nice to play in front of your own crowd. The crowd feels like you have an extra player on the field and for Seattle they have a great crowd."


Kevin Burns - Crew Midfielder


(On starting out strong and getting an early lead...) "It was a good start, anytime you get up one-zero. There was still a lot to be played. Seattle is a good team and playing in front of a great crowd. It is sometimes just the way it goes. After the second goal is when we go worried."


Andy Gruenebaum - Crew Goalkeeper


(On his impressions from the match...) "We knew it was going to be a tough place to play, their fan base is great. Anytime you have a championship match on your own pitch, the odds are going to be against you. We knew we had to defend and take advantage of any opportunity. We came out and scored the first goal and they were able to capitalize on two weird bounces."

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