TUKWILA, Wash. (AP) – Fredy Montero missed on the spectacular goal. He was perfect moments later with the most simple of fundamentals.
Montero finally cashed in on Seattle’s numerous chances with a curling left-footed goal late in the first half, and the Sounders earned their shot at a third straight U.S. Open Cup title with a 1-0 semifinal victory over FC Dallas on Tuesday night.
Moments after sending an electrifying bicycle kick wide of the net, Montero collected a pass just outside the penalty area. He stopped, cut back to his left and curled a left-footed shot around the outstretched arms of Dallas goalkeeper Kevin Hartman and just inside the far post in the 40th minute after Seattle had controlled play for most of the first half.
His goal stood up, even with Dallas’ offensive pressure in the second half and sent Seattle to the finals yet again with a chance at a bit of American soccer history.
“Luckily the second one from distance got in and gave us a spot in the final,” Montero said through an interpreter. “One cannot predict when that will happen.”
Seattle is trying to become just the second team in the 98 years of the Cup to win three straight titles joining New York Greek-American who won three straight from 1967-69.
Last year Seattle became the first repeat winners since the New York Pancyprian Freedoms won consecutive titles in 1982-83. It’s a competition the Sounders showed well in when they were a USL franchise and one the club has taken seriously since arriving in Major League Soccer in 2009. This year was the fifth straight season a Seattle franchise has reached at least the semifinals of the Open Cup.
Now the Sounders get a chance to make it 3-for-3. Seattle will host Chicago in the final on Oct. 4 after the Fire beat the Richmond Kickers 2-1 on Tuesday night. Last year’s final, also played in Seattle, drew a record 31,311 to see the Sounders beat Columbus 2-1.
“Big credit to the organization by helping us out and being able to host so many games. That makes a huge difference for us and the organization has this environment for us to play in,” Seattle goalkeeper Kasey Keller said. “There are a lot of reasons we’re in our third final.”
But this wasn’t just another Cup game where the MLS sides don’t take seriously. Seattle and Dallas are locked in a battle for second place in the Western Conference and the two played just 10 days ago with the Sounders taking a 1-0 win.
It was physical with 30 combined fouls and seven cards including a red card for Dallas’ Daniel Hernandez in the final seconds of stoppage time. Seattle forward Mike Fucito walked off bloodied after apparently being hit below his eye at the end of the game.
Marvin Chavez had a chance in stoppage time to tie it for Dallas after a scramble in Seattle’s penalty area left Keller racing to get back in front of Seattle’s net. But Chavez sent his shot to the open net flying over the crossbar. Chavez also hit the post early in the second half with the ball ricocheting 40 yards back up field.
Keller held his hands on his head after leaving his net open realizing how close Seattle came to giving it away.
“We were, I think, a little bit intimidated by the whole event,” Dallas coach Schellas Hyndman said. “I think a lot of things weren’t going our way and I think we just kind of got wrapped up.”
The victory completed a remarkable two week stretch where Seattle went 5-0-0 across three different competitions. The Sounders won league matches against Dallas and Columbus, beat Comunicaciones and became just the second MLS club to win in Mexico with a 1-0 victory over Monterrey in the CONCACAF Champions League and closed out the hectic stretch with Tuesday night’s victory.
This was Dallas’ first time in the Open Cup since 2008 when they were beaten by the Charleston Battery in the quarterfinals. Dallas previously reached the finals in 2007 and 2005 losing both time and won the Cup in 1997 when they were known at the Dallas Burn.
Dallas’ George John entered the second half, playing just a few miles from where he was a prep star in Shoreline, Wash. Before going on to be a college standout at Washington. He was greeted by cheers of “Blackburn Reject” from the Emerald City Supporters just a few days after a possible transfer to the Premier League club fell through. John had gone as far as traveling to Greece — his grandparents’ homeland — to collect a passport from another European Union country and avoid the necessity of obtaining a British work permit.
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