Four straight U.S. Open Cup finals. Think about that for a second. Just once in the previous 98 editions of the tournament has a team managed to do what the Seattle Sounders have managed to do in their first four years of MLS existence. In about a month, the Sounders will have a chance to be mentioned in a class all their own.
The Sounders are already well aware of that fact. The post-game interviews were full of talk about history, about the Sounders' place in it and how that can be a motivating factor for a team that will surely have its hands full when they go to Livestrong Sporting Park.
Before we get too deeply into that, though, let's take a little time to reflect on what the Sounders did to get here. Wednesday's game was not their prettiest, but Open Cup matches rarely are. It was a clinically effective display, something the Sounders have grown accustomed to in this tournament.
The stats show just how dominant the Sounders were in this one, outshooting Chivas 18-4, forcing Dan Kennedy into five saves and somehow completing 77 percent of their passes on a field that seemed to be playing particularly small on this day. Fredy Montero looked like his old self, Eddie Johnson continued to show the kind of form I'm not sure he ever quite possessed and Osvaldo Alonso was every where all at once. There was even some glimpses of the future with Alex Caskey and Cordell Cato providing some nice moments out on the wings.
It was the perfect addition to what is quickly becoming the Sounders' most impressive Open Cup run, yet. Let's quickly recap: They've outscored opponents 15-2, beaten the best team in the league on the road with one day of rest, scored 12 second-half goals and eliminated the Mighty Ducks of soccer. If they are able to beat Sporting Kansas City on the road, it will be the perfect capstone to what has to be considered the greatest run in Open Cup history.
SEA - Eddie Johnson (Osvaldo Alonso) 31'
SEA - Osvaldo Alonso (penalty kick) 48'
CHV - Cesar Romero 74'
SEA - Brad Evans (Fredy Montero) 83'
SEA - Sammy Ochoa 88'
Seattle Sounders FC: Byran Meredith, Zach Scott, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Pat Ianni, Leo Gonzalez, Cordell Cato (Brad Evans 61), Osvaldo Alonso, Andy Rose, Alex Caskey (Alvaro Fernandez 81), Eddie Johnson (Sammy Ochoa 86), Fredy Montero.
Substitutes Not Used: Josh Ford, Marc Burch, Jeff Parke, Mauro Rosales.
TOTAL SHOTS: 18 (Montero 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 9 (Three tied with 2); FOULS: 17 (Alonso 6); OFFSIDE: 5 (Johnson 3); CORNER KICKS: 6 (Caskey 4); SAVES: 3 (Meredith 3).
Chivas USA: Dan Kennedy, James Riley, Danny Califf, Rauwshan McKenzie, Jorge Villafana, Oswaldo Minda, Ben Zemanski (Ryan Smith 85), Blair Gavin (Cesar Romero 64), Alejandro Moreno, Paolo Cardozo, Juan Pablo Angel (Jose Correa 69).
Substitutes Not Used: Tim Melia, Casey Townsend, Peter Vagenas, John Valencia.
TOTAL SHOTS: 4 (Romero 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (Romero 2); FOULS: 15 (Minda 5); OFFSIDE: 2 (Correa, Gavin 1); CORNER KICKS: 1 (Cardozo 1); SAVES: 5 (Kennedy 5).
SEA - Osvaldo Alonso (caution) 42'
CHV - Oswaldo Minda (caution) 44'
CHV - Danny Califf (caution) 78'
Referee: Chris Penso
Referee's Assistants: Frank Anderson, Mike Kampmeinert
4th Official: Baldomero Toledo
Time of Game: 1:51
Weather: Sunny and 76 degrees
All Statistics contained in the boxscore are unoffical.
POSTGAME QUOTES: Sounders FC vs. Chivas USA - July 11, 2012
Sigi Schmid - Sounders FC Head Coach
(Opening...) "It's real now, so we can talk about trying to win four [US Open Cup Championships] in a row. Obviously, it'll be difficult being away from home - playing at Kansas City. It would have been great to play at home because I think we would have more than we had last year. Who knows, maybe we would have sold out the whole place - 60,000-plus. But we're going to Kansas City. The first one we won on the road and we're going to try to win the fourth one on the road."
(On what worked tonight...) "It was a great first goal. Ozzie [Osvaldo Alonso] led the ball - Fredy Montero actually made a good run where he pulled off the front line and that opened up the lane for Eddie Johnson to run through and then a great ball from Ozzie, a great run from Eddie. That worked really well for us. I thought Eddie and Montero were dangerous together as a pair. Fredy was running balls tonight and set up Brad [Evans] on the goal as well, so I'm really pleased with his effort. I thought the two forwards were really dangerous. Ozzie and [Andy] Rose I thought did a really good job of holding down the middle in midfield. After the first 15-20 minutes I thought we settled into the game and we played well."
(On if they were able to take advantage of the high-line throughout the game...) "Yeah, we wanted them to play through the middle of the back a little bit and we felt that we could get behind them. We had enough space, obviously we showed that at times. But we were able to get behind them - [Cordell] Cato was able to get behind them and stretch them on the right side as well and that opened the game up for us."
(On Chivas USA's goal...) "I wasn't happy with their goal. It's one of those things where we sort of dozed off a little bit and didn't play the ball. We still have to manage the game a little bit better. It was good to get a goal right away from a good combination from Fredy Montero and [Brad] Evans. If you figure out minutes played, if I play [Sammy] Ochoa 90 minutes he'll score like 100 goals."
(On how they will approach Kansas City...) "We'll take a step back and think about it and obviously look at it. Certainly it's an electric atmosphere because the crowd is so close and to a certain extent it might be more intimidating than it is at CenturyLink [Field] just because the crowd is that much on top of you. But you look at what these guys have done in one-off games, you look at the history of any league around the world and you don't see any teams winning four straight FA Cups. Teams might win four league championships in a row, but because there are so many things that could go wrong in a one off game it's tough to win four in a row."
(On how much time they spend talking about history...) "We'll be very aware when we step on the field and [realize] we have a chance to do something nobody's done and that should be a highly motivating factor for our club and for all the players on the team."
Osvaldo Alonso - Sounders FC Midfielder
(On the win...) "It's a win. We win tonight and we advance to the finals. I'm very happy for myself and the team. We're looking forward to the finals."
(On Chivas USA...) "Chivas is a great team. They came here and played a hard game. They played with passion. We did a good job. We pushed the ball, we scored goals and we were fortunate to get the win."
Brad Evans - Sounders FC Midfielder
(On his goal...) "Fredy drew some guys, like he always does, acted like he was going to shoot--it kind of draws the keeper out of position--plays me in, I took a touch and just slammed it home."
(On playing for a record-fourth straight Open Cup...) "Just the chance isn't good enough for us, so we have to go into and want this."
Eddie Johnson - Sounders FC Forward
(On playing for a record-fourth straight Open Cup...) "We don't want to be the reason why this team doesn't win four in a row, so when we're out there anytime you get an opportunity you have to make it count...The expectations and the chance we have in this Cup, we need to concentrate on this game. We're on a good streak right now--we're uneaten in five games, so we're just trying to use that momentum we got right now. Just trying to go forward being consistent as we start the second part of the season."
(On his play of recent...) "It's a team sport. I get pushed by these guys week in and week out. The team has been patient with me, the organization has been patient with me, and the players. It's frustrating when you don't have a preseason with the team and it's hard to get going from the beginning. My coaching staff believed in me, my teammates believed in me, and with that confidence everyone has in me it's easy to when you're out there on the field to just work hard...and put yourself in good positioning as a forward and just trying to get on the end of things. You know with forwards, the goals come in waves. Right now I'm trying to ride this wave, trying to keep my head down, and just trying to focus really. Just taking it one game at a time...The most important thing is being consistent and taking it one day at a time. You know it's a long season, you know you're going to have opportunities to score goals."
Robin Fraser - Chivas USA Head Coach
(On the gameplan for tonight's match...) "We wanted to win the game. Obviously with the smaller field, we knew we were going to have our battles, but I thought the first half went how we expected. It was a battle for territory the whole game. I thought that we played well in the first half, but it got away from us in the second. We made a mistake and gave up a goal late in the first half, which is hard to recover from, and then we gave up a killer goal in the first minute of the second half. I certainly thought the first half went as expected with the exception of the goal."
(What were the holes in team's play tonight...) "The biggest thing was giving up the second goal and putting ourselves in a hole. Then we were fighting an uphill battle the whole game. If you do that then you are going to open yourselves up and that's it. Once you start chasing the game, you create space for them and give them opportunities."
(On playing on a smaller field...) "You are preparing for what is going to be a physical game. It was a battle for territory and neither team wanted to make a mistake in their side of the field. Certainly as the game opens up you can start playing, but for us we knew it was going to be a physical game early."
James Riley - Chivas USA Defender
(On the feeling if returning to Seattle for the first time...) "It's obviously great. A little bitter sweet because it was not the result we were hoping for. We wanted to keep it a little more competitive than we did, but they are a fantastic team and we knew it was going to be a big challenge to beat them at Starfire. They proved their quality so kudos to them. All we can do is our lick are wounds and train for Portland next Wednesday."
(On playing on the smaller field at Starfire...) "It is ok. I mean I have played there before and I'm sure most of us have played on small fields at some point. You just have to know how to play it. I honestly like playing on smaller fields more. It is a fast uptempo game from minute one to minute ninety. I think they might have been a little more used to it tonight, but I don't think the small field had that much of an effect on our play tonight."
(What were the holes in team's play tonight...) "I think the first half was very even. We we very unfortunate to give up that goal to Eddie [Johnson]. Eddie on a breakaway is exactly what we were trying to prevent, but our lines were a little off and he finishes so well that he was able to put it in. To go down one nil at the half is very unfortunate, because we really wanted to go in tied. Then when they got a goal one minute into the second half, it was obviously a dagger. It was difficult to come back against a quality team like that, especially at Starfire. We had an uphill battle. We got it to two to one, and obviously at two to one we thought we had a chance to equalize because it is the hardest lead to defend in soccer. We thought we could have had it, but they won the critical moments on offense and defense tonight."
(On receiving a standing ovation at the end...) "It is great. Like I said, landing here yesterday to blue skies and green vegetation is great. When we trained at Starfire yesterday I told the guys that it was going to be fun today with the fans and how passionate they would be. I told them it would be a challenge, but a great game. We wanted to play the champions at Starfire, you can't write a better script than that, but we just couldn't get the result we wanted. The fans here are top notch, and the three years I spent here were some of the best, both on and off the field."