Seattle Sounders FC claimed their fourth US Open Cup crown with a 3-1 away success against the Philadelphia Union.
Maurice Edu netted the first goal of the Union’s five-game run, and he looked to have completed the triumph with a first-half header, until Chad Barrett and extra-time strikes from Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins reversed the score-line.
With the Sounders in pole position to claim a couple of Major League Soccer titles this autumn, they are on course for a prestigious domestic treble, while the wait for the hosts’ maiden honour goes on.
The opening stages at PPL Park were typically tense for a game of this magnitude, though Dempsey should have netted in the tenth minute. Andy Rose’s run from deep set up a cross that was touched on by Lamar Neagle to the United States captain, but he blazed skywards.
A first Philadelphia effort came from the head of Andrew Wenger, meanwhile, as he flew onto the end of Sheanon Williams deep centre, missing the target at the back post.
Stefan Frei then plucked Sebastian le Toux’s arrow from the corner, before a similar Brad Evans drive was deflected narrowly over the cross-bar. From the following set-piece, Chad Marshall nodded wide.
With both sides starting to threaten, a smart Dempsey spin preceded a tame prod, while only a stunning stop prevented Le Toux from sliding Wenger’s delicious low delivery into the net.
Conor Casey appeared to be involved in every play, and when he again fed Wenger, the 23-year-old flashed beyond the far post with the aid of a deflection. A corner-kick soon found the former, but his flick was inaccurate.
This pressure was to finally pay off with 38 minutes on the clock. Christian Maidana curled into the six-yard box, where captain Edu diverted the ball past a flailing Frei for a fifth notch of this ever-improving campaign.
Despite an immediate reaction, there was no Rave Green reply prior to the interval, but Sigi Schmid’s men continued to build momentum after the restart. Lucky ricochets twice saved the Pennsylvanians, before a third scramble allowed Barrett to register. Vincent Nogueira failed to sufficiently deal with Rose’s knock-down, and the visiting forward was on hand to convert.
More Seattle attacks followed, with Osvaldo Alonso’s header lacking aim, along with Barrett’s smash on the turn. Some sublime goalkeeping from Zac MacMath kept Evans at bay, and the Sounders would have been instantly punished if not for the acceleration of DeAndre Yedlin to snuff out a dangerous breakaway.
Rose remained a threat in the air, meanwhile, and created an opportunity that was spurned by substitute Martins in front of goal.
However, Pedro Ribeiro should have fired the Union back ahead when Ray Gaddis’ shot fell into his path, but Frei dashed back to scoop a timid side-foot from the line. Next, Nogueira rattled the woodwork, as Philly came ever closer to settling the tie within the 90 minutes.
But as the match progressed to extra-time, MacMath brilliantly palmed away from Martins, with the Rave Green again displaying their cast of attacking talents.
The custodian was helpless soon after, though, as the Nigerian slipped Dempsey in to coolly finish inside the near post and give the visitors the lead for the first time, sparking jubilant scenes in the small pocket of away supporters.
Marco Pappa almost quickly lashed another in, striking the cross-bar with MacMath well beaten. There’d be more chances for the Union to equalise in the second period, but Carlos Valdes diverted Danny Cruz’s scuff straight at Frei from a good position.
That blunder was to prove crucial, as Martins collected the ball on halfway, burnt past Gaddis, dinked over the goalkeeper and sealed the championship.
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