The Seattle Sounders first made their mark on the U.S. Open Cup as a USL team by pulling some rather impressive upsets over MLS teams. As a MLS team, they have, of course, made their mark by becoming the first MLS team to ever repeat as champions.
On Tuesday night, they almost made a mark in an entirely different way. By all rights, the Sounders very easily could have become the first MLS team to fall to a PDL side in about a decade. But the Pumas failed to put away their chances, while the Sounders converted just enough of theirs and won 2-1 in front of 3,811 fans at Starfire Sports Complex. The Sounders will now face the LA Galaxy, who beat the LA Blues 2-1 on Tuesday, at Starfire on either July 12 or 13 in the Open Cup quarterfinals.
If not for Mike Fucito, it's scary to think what might have been. Fucito scored both the Sounders' goals and nearly had a third. It wasn't that the Sounders weren't creating chances -- the outshot the Pumas 25-7 -- but they weren't doing much with them in the first half, and Bryan Meredith turned in a particularly impressive performance in the second half, robbing Nate Jaqua at least twice.
"I always like coming out and playing in this atmosphere, it's so cool," said Fucito, who was serenaded by ECS to the tune of Biz Markie's "Just a Friend." "They're a pretty good team. We knew they were going to come out with a lot of energy and I thought it was a pretty good game. Good for other guys to get some time and show well. It was nice to finally score some goals."
Aside from Fucito, though, it was a pretty uneven performance from the Sounders. The defense allowed far too many chances to the Pumas, who came achingly close to taking the lead early and had a couple good chances to equalize late in the match. Their one score came on a well taken goal in the 71st minute from former MLS No. 1 overall draft pick Nikolas Besagno. The Sounders midfield did a good job of maintaing possession throughout, and Osvaldo Alonso was downright dominant in the middle, but the outside mids created struggled in the offensive third.
This was not a game that will go down in Sounders lore, but that's probably a good thing. The Sounders needed to beat the Pumas and survive another day, and that's just what they did. Bring on the Galaxy.