Sounders continue to excel on both domestic fronts

by Neil Sherwin

Seattle Sounders Dempsey MartinsThe Seattle Sounders eased into their fifth Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Final in six years with an emphatic 6-0 win over the Chicago Fire on Wednesday.

Sitting nicely at the top of Major League Soccer’s Western Conference and with bumper crowds at every home game, the Sounders have quickly become the benchmark club in the league.

Throw US soccer poster boy Clint Dempsey into the mix and you have almost all of the pieces in place to be a dominant force for the next few years at least.

The Open Cup semi-final defeat was an embarrassing one for the Fire, and the six goals conceded was more than they had shipped in any US Open Cup tournament prior to 2014.

Fans were understandably outraged, venting their anger via various social media channels, and Coach Frank Yallop issued a public apology in the aftermath.

“I want to apologise to our supporters for that performance – those that travelled to the match and those that watched at home in Chicago,” said the former Ipswich Town player.

“It flat out wasn’t good enough for them and we as a team shoulder the blame.”

The Fire has struggled all season and has become the MLS draw specialists, with 13 ties from their 22 league games so far, so it was no surprise that they lost out to the Supporters’ Shield leading Sounders.

Boasting two former Fire players in the form of Jalil Anibaba and Marco Pappa, Seattle showed no mercy despite resting star players Dempsey, Obafemi Martins and Chad Marshall.

Martins did come off the bench after 74 minutes, and just five minutes later he found the net for Seattle’s fourth goal before setting Kenny Cooper’s second of the game on 84.

While not every club gives America’s oldest ongoing national soccer competition their full attention, Sounders Coach Sigi Schmidt stressed its importance to his side.

“It’s fantastic.  It’s something that we took seriously,” he said. “Like I say, if you enter it, try and win it.”

The Sounders will face the Philadelphia Union in the final on September 16th, and victory will see them equal the Fire’s four Open Cup wins.

Earlier this week, the Sounders revealed that exciting youngster DeAndre Yedlin is heading for the Premier League and Tottenham Hotspur after a deal was agreed between the two clubs.

However, the 21-year-old will remain with Seattle until the end of the current MLS season.

“I first want to thank everyone involved in my development. From my family to youth coaches to the Sounders, I am lucky to have such a strong support system,” said Yedlin once the deal was announced.

“I’m excited to have the opportunity to play with Spurs in the English Premier League, and I look forward to helping the Sounders win a championship this season.”

Yedlin was Seattle’s first homegrown player when he was signed back in January 2011 and his rise to prominence, which included game time for the US national team at the World Cup in Brazil, is a great sign for the club’s youth development programme.

“We are extremely proud of what DeAndre has accomplished in his young professional career,” said Sounders FC Owner and General Manager Adrian Hanauer.

“His success is a reflection of his individual ability as well as soccer development in Washington State and the continued commitment to progress the sport in this country.

“DeAndre is and always will be a special member of the Sounders FC family, and we are excited to have him in Seattle for the remainder of the season.”

Keeping hold of Yedlin for the rest of 2014 is big for the Sounders as they look to claim their first MLS Cup since joining the league in 2009.

This weekend they take on Real Salt Lake with just two points currently separating the sides at the top of the Western Conference.

Defeat wouldn’t be a disaster though as Seattle has two games in hand on both RSL and third place FC Dallas as we head towards the business end of the season.

Sounders stats

This article first appeared on the excellent bsports, who provide great statistical analysis. You can also find them on Twitter.

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