TUKWILA – For weeks now, the rumors have been in the background, hovering over every Sounders practice, every news conference, every match.
Since the World Cup, DeAndre Yedlin has been linked first with Italy’s Roma, then Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premier League, the latter report gathering momentum daily.
Wednesday morning brought confirmation: Seattle has agreed to sell Yedlin to Tottenham on a deal that will keep the 21-year-old with the Sounders through at least the rest of season.
“It was kind of a weight off my shoulders,” Yedlin said. “I know where I’m going to be next. I can just relax and focus on Seattle.”
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Wednesday evening followed with a rout, as the unencumbered Sounders rolled the Chicago Fire 6-0 in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals at Starfire Sports Complex to clinch their fifth finals appearance in six years, in which they’ll face the Union in Philadelphia on Sept. 16.
The Sounders didn’t waste any time Wednesday.
Andy Rose’s flick broke open the Chicago defense and landed at Kenny Cooper’s feet. Cooper sprinted to the end line then cut a pass back for Chad Barrett, who tapped the ball over the line.
Rose followed with two goals, one in the 33rd, another in the 58th, both on feeds from Marco Pappa.
“More than the goals, it was just the general play that I was most pleased with,” Rose said. “Looking forward, being able to find the runners, being able to keep possession from the back. Those are things that I need to be able to bring to the table.”
There was little to nitpick anywhere on the field, least of all in the effort shown.
Chicago has been the most successful MLS club in this competition, having won it a record four times. Seattle is not far behind, with three. Both showed off their Open Cup pedigree in a heated, competitive first half.
“I talked to Pappa and (Jalil) Anibaba before the game and told them, ‘This is the reason you came here, to battle for trophies,’ ” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. “Show it tonight.”
Seattle left no doubt. Martins personified the theme of the night in the 79th minute, sprinting past and over the Fire defense to make it 4-0.
Three minutes later, Yedlin pushed forward up the right side of the field.
The crowd noise had spiked at every touch all night, newly aware of a looming expiration date.
This time, Yedlin’s whipped cross pass found a head, and Cooper ran the score to 5-0. In the 84th minute, Cooper struck again to make it 6-0.
Even with the persistent rumors, the transfer of a Seattle kid and Sounders academy product is jarring. Owner and general manager Adrian Hanauer admitted in a conference call that he didn’t fully believe it until pens went to paper.
“It was not, like, sad emotional, just excited,” Yedlin said afterward. “It’s exciting to get back on the field. …. Whenever it’s my last game, that will be the sad emotional game.”
No matter when it comes, the end of this season or midway through the next, the Sounders and their supporters are now free to enjoy it while it lasts.
Matt Pentz: email@example.com