For 49 minutes, the dream that was Cal FC’s US Open Cup run looked like it just might make it through one more game, and the amateur team looked like it just might pull off one more improbable upset.
Then the Seattle Sounders woke up and reminded everybody why they are the three-time defending US Open Cup champions.
A 50th-minute penalty kick from Osvaldo Alonso opened the floodgates, as the Sounders rattled off five goals in 20 minutes to blow away Cal FC, 5-0, in the fourth-round US Open Cup match in Tukwila, Washington on Tuesday night.
Alonso scored the first and last goal of the second half outburst, including a long-range blast to make it 5-0. Colombian striker, Fredy Montero, added two goals of his own during the heavy onslaught.
The second half outburst came after a first half that saw Cal FC do an outstanding job of frustrating the Sounders and limiting Seattle’s chances. The Sounders held an 11-2 shot advantage in the first half, but only two of those shots were on goal.
“Obviously we weren’t happy with some of the things we did but I thought they played well,” said Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid. “We weren’t worried about a lot in front of goal but they did a good job of keeping possession and spreading the ball around.
“They’re quick, they’re technical, they’re a good team,” Schmid said of Cal FC. “From that standpoint they did a good job of holding us at bay.”
The game appeared to be unfolding much like Cal FC’s stunning 1-0 victory against the Portland Timbers a week earlier. Unlike the Timbers, Seattle was able to convert a penalty kick to help break through. Alonso slotted the penalty kick past Cal FC goalkeeper Derby Carillo, giving the Sounders a sense of relief that showed in the way they ripped apart Cal FC’s defense.
Montero made it 2-0 when he converted a quality pass from Cordell Cato in the 58th minute, and Andy Rose made it 3-0 when an Alex Caskey header re-directed off his head and into the net. Montero made it 4-0 with a floating shot from the left wing and Alonso finished the goal blitz with a 30-yard blast that sailed over Carillo.
The victory moves Seattle into the US Open Cup quarterfinals
For Cal FC, the defeat ended an improbable run that saw an amateur team created in February rattle off three straight wins against higher-level competition. The story captured the imagination of American soccer fans, and helped put the spotlight on a group of unsung players that impressed scouts and fans alike.
“The whole thing’s been a great ride,” said Cal FC head coach Eric Wynalda. “I think for these kids, that’s all they every wanted. A chance to play with the big boys.”