After tonight's smooth win over the Los Angeles Galaxy an Adrian Hanauer owned team called the Seattle Sounders will be in their 5th straight semifinal. Seattle advances this year after winning its 10th straight in the Open Cup proper, 7 straight at Starfire and did so against a team that sent a near MLS lineup. The first and last 30 minutes were dominated with a return to Sigi's Game. When the Sounders didn't have the ball they attacked it quickly, when they recovered the ball they attacked the goal.
The offense flowed quickly. Multiple passes and unique angles were created through quality play of Fredy Montero, Pat Noonan and Nate Jaqua early. When defenders were in the way the team would look for either short or long aerial passes. It was a style of offense that can distract you from particulars due to its seed.
Defensively the key was not to shut down Landon Donovan, but instead to tether Osvaldo Alonso to Juninho. LA tried to switch play through the Brazilian, but too often he fell victim to the aggressive defense of the Honey Badger. With Alvaro Fernandez as his central partner Ozzie had a quick pass available that could immediately start attacks through any channel.
That transitionary play led Seattle to threaten early and often. At points during the game fans must have felt that many more goals were coming, but Josh Saunders did quite well stopping a few. In the second half Sigi subbed earlier then usual, but did so in ways that continued the aggressive attacking nature of the night. Erik Friberg for Noonan, Roger Levesque for a tiring Jaqua and Mike Fucito for Montero. In each of these, not only the attacking pressure increased, but the defensive posture up-field did as well.
When Lamar Neagle flicked in the third goal, it wasn't just a dagger. But it was a statement that this team is as good as any in the league at this time, and over the past two and a half year. Coach Schmid's team has now earned 164 points in all competitions and is tied for first in MLS with the team they beat tonight.
Tactically it was impressive. The victory was clean. The opportunity for another Cup is only two games away.