CHESTER, Pa. – Sounders strikers Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins find each other, from passing drills on the training field to counterattacks storming into an opposing team’s penalty box.
“They just find each other,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. “They know where each other is on the field all the time.
“When Clint has the ball, he knows where Oba is. And when Oba has the ball, he knows where Clint is.”
Martins had the ball at the top of the Union box in the 101st minute of a U.S. Open Cup final long since turned classic. Dempsey sprinted into the vacated space to his right.
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Martins found Dempsey, and Dempsey found the back of the net.
The Sounders, who had needed a pair of fortuitous late bounces just to reach extra time, suddenly were in control of it.
And after Martins added an insurance tally in the 113th minute, Seattle won its fourth Open Cup title in six seasons courtesy of a 3-1 victory at PPL Park.
“In Mexico, they say that the champions have that kind of luck,” Sounders midfielder Gonzalo Pineda said afterward. “We had that champion’s luck.
“That’s part of being a champion: No matter what happens, you get the trophy.”
The Union, playing for the first trophy in club history, took the game to Seattle for the opening 45 minutes.
Philadelphia pressured the Sounders’ goal for long stretches of the first half and had the lead seven minutes before the end of it, as Maurice Edu headed in a well-placed free kick from Cristian Maidana in the 38th minute.
“We were pushed to our limit,” Seattle midfielder Brad Evans said. “We were pushed by a good team.”
The Sounders pulled even three minutes into the second half on Chad Barrett’s header, kicking off a stretch in which the only negative was that so few people could watch it.
GolTV, which owned the rights to Tuesday’s match, isn’t available on all cable providers and hard to find on the ones that do carry it. Much was made about the availability of a live stream – one that required an $8.95 monthly remember to access – only for it to perform so poorly that the provider promised a full refund before the game was even 20 minutes in.
So fans were forced to miss Dempsey flinging his body to the PPL Park turf, his right foot straining in vain for a deep cross.
A few minutes later, they missed Martins curling a shot inches wide of the right post.
Then that champion’s luck Pineda referenced kicked in.
Philadelphia Union sub Pedro Ribeiro dribbled a soft shot right at Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei with the goal open right before stoppage time. A few mintues into it, Vincent Nogueira crashed through the Sounders’ defense and smashed a shot that rebounded off the inside of the left-hand post.
The crowd, far livelier than the 15,256 announced attendance might indicate, rose as one alongside the corner-kick count.
“I’m a competitor,” Union interim coach Jim Curtin said. “I’ve never been a guy proud of a loss. … I at least understand what coaches say now when they say they’re proud.
“To a man, they left it out there.”
Once extra time started, both sides began to tire.
Martins, who started on the bench with a slight injury and came on as a substitute in the 60th minute, used his comparatively fresh legs to force a diving, one-hand save from Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath.
Then Martins found Dempsey, and Dempsey found the back of the net.
Sounders FC in U.S. Open Cup
|2009||Champions||Won 2-1 at D.C. United|
|2010||Champions||Beat Columbus 2-1 at home|
|2011||Champions||Beat Chicago 2-0 at home|
|2012||Runners-up||Lost 1-1 (3-2 on PKs) at Kansas City|
|2013||Eliminated in third round||Lost 1-0 at Tampa Bay|
|2014||Champions||Won 3-1 at Philadelphia in extra time|
Matt Pentz: email@example.com