Something about U.S. Open Cup play has curative powers for Sounders FC.
The once-flagging Sounders, playing one of their more complete games of the midseason, took down Chivas USA 4-1 on a sun-drenched Wednesday evening at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila. The Sounders became the first team since 1937 to advance to a fourth consecutive Cup championship match, and seek to be the first to win four.
The title match is Aug. 8 in Kansas City, where the Sounders will meet Sporting KC, which beat Philadelphia 2-0 Wednesday night in the other semifinal in a game that had 38 fouls and six cards. Sporting KC played Seattle to a 1-1 draw June 20 during the regular season in MLS play, where KC is tied for the Eastern Conference lead.
Had Philadelphia won Wednesday, the Sounders would have hosted the title game at Starfire. The Sounders are 12-0 in Cup play in their home away from CenturyLink Field downtown.
“Its real, so we can talk about winning four in a row, coach Sigi Schmid said. Obviously it will be difficult, being away from home, playing at Kansas City. It would have been great playing at home because I think we would have had more than we had last year.
“I think to set this record of four in a row, who knows, maybe wed have sold out the whole place at 60,000. But were going to Kansas City. It means the first one we (would win) on the road.
The Sounders seemed to be cruising with a 2-0 lead into the 74th minute when Chivas’s Cesar Romero broke free at the top of the area and put a hard ball on sprawling goalie Bryan Meredith, who saved the shot but couldn’t keep his gloves on the ball. Romero was right on the rebound and scored into an empty net.
Tension grew until the 83rd minute when Fredy Montero came bearing down on the top of the box and looked ready to fire against two defenders when he nudged a soft roller to a streaking Brad Evans, who had a clean look and boomed a shot past goalie Dan Kennedy.
The ticket to the title game was secured four minutes later when Sammy Ochoa took the ball away from a Chivas defender and whipped around for a shot past Kennedy, who again was helpless.
The Sounders, coming off a 2-1 home victory Saturday over Colorado that broke a club-record, nine-game winless MLS drought, scored in the 31st minute when Osvaldo Alonso, the Sounders two-time MVP, sneaked a ball past Chivas’s defense to Eddie Johnson, who found himself one-on-one with Kennedy and beat him easily.
The 1-0 halftime lead was doubled three minutes into the second half when Alonso scored on a penalty kick.
An apparent Sounders goal was disallowed in the 62nd minute when an offsides call thwarted a score by Eddie Johnson. The Sounders had an 18-4 advantage in shots, including 9-4 on goal.
The Sounders are 17-0-1 in Cup play, and are undefeated in their last five matches including all competitions.