By Money Mike
16 MLS teams kicked off their U.S. Open Cup campaign in the third round this week. However, half of the pack got knocked out. The other half, including the Seattle Sounders, advanced to the fourth round. The Seattle Sounders advanced after a 5-1 beatdown over the Atlanta Silverbacks last night in front 3,703 fans at Starfire. The Sounders will face Cal FC next Tuesday at Starfire after they upset the Portland Timbers at their home ground with a 1-0 win in extra time. Had the Timbers won that match as everyone would've expected, Seattle would've traveled down to Portland and faced the Timbers in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup. That also would've been the third time in the last four years that Portland hosted an Open Cup match against Seattle.
The Sounders tested the Atlanta Silverbacks backline straight from the opening kickoff. Cordell Cato won that battle for the ball with Jose Burciaga, Jr. and poked the ball for Sammy Ochoa. Ochoa turned and had a go from about 25 yards out, but no problem for goalkeeper Joe Nasco to make the save.
In the 19th minute, the Sounders had a great opportunity to go ahead. Cordell Cato took on former UW Husky Raphael Cox who had a torrid time in this match. Cato squared the ball across low for Eddie Johnson from about 12 yards away, but Johnson skied it over top of the bar. I'm not sure how much of a chance Johnson had in putting that one away because he had to reach out for that ball with his left foot. It almost looked like he stumbled a little bit while trying to put that away, but a big chance there for Eddie Johnson who has struggled these last couple of weeks.
In the 21st minute, Danilo Turcois backheeled the ball to Raphael Cox for a first timed shot that sailed over the bar. Turcois, who represented Honduras at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, looked like he was used as a playmaker in this match for the Atlanta Silverbacks.
In the 36th minute, this could easily have been a straight red card had the referee or the linesman spotted this one. Joe Nasco collided with teammate Jose Burciaga, Jr. which gave Ozzie Alonso a try from the half way line. Nasco did get back and punch it wide, but it looked like he was outside the penalty area. If a goalkeeper handles the ball outside the box, that's an automatic red card. I think he was lucky that the referee didn't call anything.
In the 43rd minute, Alex Caskey tried his luck from 19 yards out and forced another save from Joe Nasco. The Sounders have tested Nasco from all cylindars the entire match and made things tough for him.
Shortly after, the Sounders struck first. Eddie Johnson headed the ball across to Jeff Parke who then chested the ball down at the top of the area and the man standing there was Andy Rose and the rookie from UCLA hits it first time into the left corner to give the Seattle Sounders a well deserved 1-0 lead over the NASL side. Joe Nasco didn't have a chance at this one. We've seen Osvaldo Alonso strike those from outside the area as well as Alex Caskey but I wouldn't forget about Andy Rose. It's great to see that we're getting a lot of production from the midfield.
In the 47th minute, the Sounders doubled their advantage. Cordell Cato, who had an excellent performance, sent Ozzie Alonso in behind with only the keeper to beat and Alonso slotted it inside the far corner for his first of the season.
Six minutes later, Atlanta pulled one back. Shane Moroney came forward from his right back spot and fed Reinaldo Navia at the top of the area. Navia struck the ball first time low into the right corner to cut the Sounders lead to one. That was until Alex Caskey came right back and scored his first Sounders goal and more importantly, to restore Seattle's two goal lead.
In the 63rd minute, the Sounders started running away with this match. After a turnover in the midfield by the Silverbacks, the Sounders stormed back the other way and Ozzie Alonso fed Sammy Ochoa who was able to keep him self onside and smash the ball inside the left post to make it 4-1 Sounders. Ochoa was not done there. In the 66th minute, David Estrada looked to get in on the act as his shot from the top of the penalty area was blocked by Martyn Lancaster, but Sammy Ochoa was right there to follow up and curl his shot into the far corner to put the icing on the cake in this third round U.S. Open Cup match.
It was good to see Ozzie Alonso get some minutes in this one since he was banned for two matches in MLS play. I'm expecting him to get the start again next Tuesday in Seattle's fourth round matchup against Cal FC, who of course stunned the Portland Timbers at Jeld-Wen Field. Alonso is considered to be one of the best if not the best holding midfielder in Major League Soccer and he did very well holding the fort last night and also picking up a goal. He's a great all around athlete and rarely have I seen him have a bad game.
Sammy Ochoa had a two goal night which was the first of his career. Despite his performance, the MLS and U.S. Open Cup are two different levels and I'm not sure Ochoa at the level to start MLS matches just yet. Ochoa does have the potential to score a lot of goals and he did show that against the Atlanta Silverbacks, but remember he spent about 5-6 years with Estudiantes Tecos in Mexico where he got almost little to no playing time so his form still needs a little work. Eddie Johnson has been dealing with the same situation during his time in Europe, but Johnson has more experience than Ochoa has and his work rate is much higher than Ochoa's. I do think Ochoa will be around for a while and I do think he's going to be a starter in the future. Again, he has the potential to score a lot of goals.
Another good turnout at the Starfire Sports Complex by the Sounders FC Supporters despite the debate this past week about this match being moved from Atlanta to Seattle. Here's the point though, sure Atlanta would've sold this match out had they not agreed to move the match to Seattle but the fact is Atlanta is a crappy Sports City and they would not even come close to helping out in terms of increasing the growth of American Soccer. Which is why they won't be getting an MLS team. It won't happen anytime soon at least.
It was good to see the Sounders bounce back from their 4 match winless draught in MLS and get a win here to close out this long month. It's also nice to see that they're going to be at home for the fourth round against Cal FC. An amateur side who beat the Portland Timbers on their home ground. Now that's just sad. I mean really, when was the last time an amateur club beat a Major League Soccer team? I mean really the Sounders got themselves an easy opponent for the fourth round. Trust me, Seattle will be too tough to handle for Cal FC.
Seattle Sounders FC - Andy Rose (Jeff Parke) 44'
Seattle Sounders FC - Osvaldo Alonso (Cordell Cato) 47'
Atlanta Silverbacks - Reinaldo Navia (Shane Moroney) 53'
Seattle Sounders FC - Alex Caskey (unassisted) 54'
Seattle Sounders FC - Sammy Ochoa (Osvaldo Alonso) 63'
Seattle Sounders FC - Sammy Ochoa (unassisted) 66'
Atlanta Silverbacks - Reinaldo Navia (caution; late foul) 59'
Seattle Sounders FC - Marc Burch (caution; retaliatory foul) 59'
Atlanta Silverbacks - Jordan Davis (caution; tactical foul) 88'
Atlanta Silverbacks - Joe Nasco; Shane Moroney, Martyn Lancaster, Jose Burciaga, Jr., Raphael Cox; Tony McManus (Jordan Davis 83'), Ciaran O'Brien, Danilo Turcois, Borfor Carr (David Santamaria 70'); Matt Horth (Nico Colaluca 64'), Reinaldo Navia
Seattle Sounders FC - Bryan Meredith; Zach Scott, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Marc Burch; Cordell Cato, Osvaldo Alonso (Servando Carrasco 70'), Andy Rose, Alex Caskey; Eddie Johnson (David Estrada 46'), Sammy Ochoa (Roger Levesque 69')