Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

USA: Sounders win historic third Open Cup triumph (+video)

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on October 5, 2011

Seattle Sounders made history by becoming only the third team in American soccer history to win the Lemar Hunt US Open Cup three times in a row. Following wins in 2009 and 2010, this year’s competition was secured with a 2-0 victory over the Chicago Fire in front of a healthy 35,615 crowd at the Sounders’ CenturyLink Field Stadium. Goals from Freddy Montero and Osvaldo Alonso secured the historic triumph for the Sounders who became the first club in the Major League Soccer (MLS) era to win the cup three years in a row and follow in the footsteps of Stix, Baer and Fuller Football Club (1933-35) and New York Greek American Club (1967-69) as the only teams to have accomplished this feat.

The cup victory also ensures that the Seattle Sounders will gain a berth in the qualifying rounds of the 2012-13 CONCACAF Champions League.

SEATTLE SOUNDERS 2-0 CHICAGO FIRE

USA: Seattle to face Chicago in US Open Cup final

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on August 31, 2011

US Open Cup logoSeattle Sounders have qualified for their third straight US Open Cup final having defeated FC Dallas in Tuesday’s all-MLS clash. They will meet Chicago Fire in October’s showpiece match in America’s knockout competition who beat lower league Richmond Kickers by the odd goal in three.

Seattle Sounders have been victorious in the last two US Open Cup competitions defeating Columbus Crew and DC United in 2010 & 2009 respectively. Tuesday’s semi-final was played in front of a noisy crowd at the Starfire Sports Stadium in Tukwila, as opposed to their usual home at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, and the change of venue didn’t deter the Sounders from reaching their third consecutive final. Freddy Montero’s 40th minute strike proved the difference between the Sounders and FC Dallas who were hoping to reach their first final since 2007 but whose title drought remains having won this competition for the only time in 1997. As for the Sounders they are hoping to become the third team to win the US Open Cup three years running and follow in the footsteps of the elaborately named New York Greek American, who won the cup from 1967-69, and the long forgotten Stix, Baer and Fuller Football Club who were the first team to accomplish this feat from 1933-35.

If Seattle Sounders are to make history then they will have to beat Chicago Fire in the final on October 4th but the Sounders will have the advantage of playing at their home stadium. Chicago Fire had a tough semi-final match against Richmond Kickers, a team from the third-tier USL Professional League, eventually coming out 2-1 winners. The Fire took a two goal lead thanks to goals from Sebastián Grazzini (32nd minute) and Dominic Oduro (61st minute) but the Kickers, who had knocked out MLS clubs Sporting Kansas City and Columbus Crew in the previous two rounds, pulled one back in the 68th minute through Yomby William. Sadly for the Kickers they were unable to get a crucial equalizer and Chicago, who have won more US Open Cups than any other MLS team with four victories, will hope to clinch a fifth title in their first final since 2006.

The winners of the cup will gain a place in the preliminary rounds of the 2012-13 CONCACAF Champions League.

USA: Seattle beats Columbus to defend Open Cup title (+video)

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on October 6, 2010
Seattle Sounders

Seattle Sounders have won the US Open Cup in the last two years

The Seattle Sounders have defended the US Open Cup title they won in 2009 by defeating the Columbus Crew by two goals to one on Tuesday and gain a berth in the CONCACAF Champions League qualifying rounds for the 2011-12 season. As a result of their victory the Sounders became the first team to successfully win back-to-back Open Cup titles since the imaginatively named New York Pancrypian Freedoms won the competition in 1982 and 1983.

The final of the 97th edition of the US Open Cup was played in front of a partisan 31,000 crowd in QWest Stadium, the home of the Sounders, but the hoardes of expectant home fans saw their team fall behind midway through the first half when Kevin Burns put Columbus Crew ahead. Columbus, who defeated DC United after extra-time to qualify for the final, were hopeful of landing their first Open Cup title since 2002 but the home side eventually got into their stride and restored parity with eight minutes of the first half remaining thanks to Gambian international Sanna Nyassi

Nyassi would go on to prove the difference between the two sides as he popped up in the 66th minute to score the winner. The win means that the Sounders, a Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise since the 2009 season, have enjoyed success in each of the two seasons that they have played an active part in the football scene in the United States. The tournament win was well deserved for Seattle following their earlier round defeats of fellow MLS sides Chivas USA and Los Angeles Galaxy. Their reward will be another tilt at qualifying for the CONCACAF Champions League, a competition they are now destined to exit at the group stage in this year’s edition following four defeats in five games. Maybe the experience already gained from domestic knockout football will stand them in good stead on the international stage next season.

WATCH US OPEN CUP HIGHLIGHTS AND INTERVIEWS HERE:

MLS: 2010 Season Preview – part 1

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on March 23, 2010
Real Salt Lake

Real Salt Lake won the 2009 MLS Cup final against LA Galaxy via a penalty shoot-out

The build-up to the 2010 Major League Soccer (MLS) season has been dominated about talk over the potential for player strikes but, thankfully, the powers-that-be and the Players’ Union got together to find some common ground and the big kick-off will take place as planned on Thursday, March 25th. The league’s newest club Philadelphia Union, whose inclusion this season increases the size of the MLS to sixteen teams, will play in the opening match against last season’s expansion team Seattle Sounders. Now in its 15th season the MLS has slowly but steadily grown into a quality sporting product which is able to nurture its own talent whilst embracing top foreign stars and the top clubs have been busy building their roster ahead of the new season. Can anybody take the MLS Cup away from last year’s champions Real Salt Lake? In a two-part preview to the new season “Stoppage Time – International Football blog” looks at the two conferences which make up the league, starting here with the Western Conference:

Real Salt Lake were very much the surprise champion in the 2009 MLS Cup. Having scraped through to the eighth and final spot in the play-offs by virtue of having a better goal difference than Colorado Rapids and D.C. United in the overall regular season table, Real fought their way past the 2008 MLS champions Columbus Crew, Chicago Fire and LA Galaxy in the play-offs to become overall MLS Cup champions for the first time in their short history. Last year’s beaten finalists Galaxy will have to overcome the setback of star player David Beckham’s Achilles rupture injury, obtained whilst on-loan at AC Milan, but will welcome back a rejuvenated Landon Donovan from his loan spell at English Premier League side Everton. The two-time MLS Cup champions will hope to build on their solid, if ultimately unsuccessful campaign last season, and go all the way this time.

Elsewhere in the west the MLS’s newest franchise Seattle Sounders were the resounding success of 2009 having achieved in their maiden season the record average attendance in MLS history (30,943). The club, who have stuck to the old name from the halcyon days of the North American Soccer League (NASL), finished a respectable third in the conference last season but were ultimately knocked out of the MLS Cup by Houston Dynamo in the Western Conference semi-finals but made up for this disappointment by winning the 2009 U.S. Open Cup (an American knock-out competition similar in style to traditional European cup competitions) defeating D.C. United 2-1 in the final. With experienced players such as Freddie Ljungberg and Kasey Keller the Sounders will hope, at the very least, to match last season’s efforts and qualify for the play-offs. Houston Dynamo, who won consecutive MLS Cups in the first two years of their existence (2006, 2007), will rely on top-scorer Brian Ching if they are to keep up their perfect 100% record of qualifying for the play-offs.

Another two-time MLS champion San Jose Earthquakes, who were triumphant in 2001 and 2003, have struggled in the last couple of years having finished 7th in the Western Conference in 2007 and 2008. Another club who have struggled in recent years is the Colorado Rapids who haven’t qualified for the MLS Cup play-offs since 2006 and who have yet to win the trophy in the 15 years since the MLS began. A founder member of the MLS, Colorado came close to the title in 1997 but lost out to D.C. United, and haven’t come as close to winning the trophy since. Another original MLS club FC Dallas, formerly known as the Dallas Burn, have a number of South and Central American players in their squad in order to compete for a first ever title as have Chivas USA, who share the same Home Depot stadium as LA Galaxy, and who have had relative success in the MLS since their inclusion into the league in 2004 having qualified for the play-offs in four out of five seasons but have yet to progress beyond the Conference semi-final stage.