Sounders FC in U.S. Open Cup finals
One win from writing history. Defending U.S. Open Cup champion Sounders FC is a game from becoming the first team in the MLS era to win...
Seattle Times staff reporter
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TUKWILA — One win from writing history.
Defending U.S. Open Cup champion Sounders FC is a game from becoming the first team in the MLS era to win back-to-back titles after a victory Wednesday night at the Starfire Sports Stadium. Seattle forward Nate Jaqua scored twice and Steve Zakuani collected two assists in a 3-1 semifinal win against Chivas USA in front of a sellout crowd of 4,547.
Seattle, which is 6-0 at Open Cup games here in the last two years, will play Columbus for the championship at 8 p.m. on Oct. 5 at Qwest Field. The Crew beat D.C. United 2-1 in extra time in the other semifinal.
"We're very excited," said Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid. "We want to sell out Qwest and we want to be able to hoist the trophy in front of all of those people."
Added general manager Adrian Hanauer: "It is rare that you get to play for a championship at home and we're certainly going to give it every ounce of effort to get the result."
Sounders FC took a seemingly decisive 2-0 lead in the 58th minute Wednesday when Zakuani made a dazzling move to break free on the left wing and played a beautiful cross to Fredy Montero for a tap-in goal.
Chivas USA pulled a goal back in the 68th minute, when forward Justin Braun flicked a header onto substitute Jesus Padilla, who buried an open shot past Seattle goalkeeper Kasey Keller. The visitors struggled to create many chances in the end while chasing for an equalizer and Jaqua clinched the win by heading in a Roger Levesque cross in the 92nd minute.
"It was nice to finish the game off," said Jaqua, whose five goals are tied for a tournament high.
Sounders FC jumped to an early lead in the 10th minute when Zakuani took a nice feed for Montero to the endline before passing to Jaqua in front of the net for the go-ahead goal from point-blank range.
"All the credit for the goals, Jaqua's and mine, go to him (Zakuani)," Montero said through a translator.
Zakuani deflected some of the credit to the 6-foot-3 target man, Jaqua, who missed most of the season with a lower-abdomen injury.
"He's one of those guys; he's always going to be in the box," Zakuani said. "He makes the honest runs. You saw today he got two goals just by being in the box, and he's got five goals in the Open Cup, so it's no surprise. It's good to see him back."
The early goal was Seattle's first score against Chivas USA in two years. Sounders FC came into the game 0-2-2 against the Los Angeles-based side.
Chivas USA came in with a full-strength lineup seeking the franchise's first trophy. Coach Martin Vasquez and Braun told reporters leading into the game that Wednesday's semifinal was the biggest match in team history.
But now it's Seattle with an eye on the record books.
• Seattle plays at New England in an MLS match Saturday.
Sounders FC 3, Chivas USA 1
|Chivas USA||0 1 — 1|
|Seattle Sounders FC||1 2 — 3|
Chivas USA — Zach Thornton, Michael Umana, Mariano Trujillo, Ante Jazic, Dario Delgado, Marcelo Saragosa, Paulo Nagamura, Rodolfo Espinoza, Jonathan Bornstein, Justin Braun, Giancarlo Maldonado. Subs: Kevin Guppy, Carlos Borja, Yamith Cuesta, Michael Lahoud, Jesus Padilla, Ben Zemanski, Sal Zizzo.
Seattle — Kasey Keller (GK), James Riley, Tyrone Marshall, Taylor Graham, Leo Gonzalez, Alvaro Fernandez, Osvaldo Alonso, Nathan Sturgis, Steve Zakuani, Fredy Montero, Nate Jaqua. Subs: Terry Boss, David Estrada, Michael Fucito, Roger Levesque, Jeff Parke, Zach Scott, Mike Seamon.