San Jose Earthquakes 0 : 1 Sounders
Cordell Cato’s 18th minute goal proved the match winner as Sounders FC advanced on their sixth successive Open Cup semi final.
Both managers brought in a slew of squad players but it was the visitors who came out ahead. Both sides had penalty claims, Seattle for a first half challenge on Fernandez, San Jose for what appeared to be a handball blocking a stoppage time shot.
Controversy followed the final whistle when Eddie Johnson was accused of shoving a Quakes reserve although with the quality of the feed being so poor, it was hard to judge on any of the above. Alan Gordon had been sent off minutes before for barging into Marc Burch.
Sounders will host Chivas USA in the semi final on July 10 and Sporting Kansas play their weekend conquerors Philadelphia Union in the other a day later.
Brad Evans started at right back. Zach Scott moved to centre half and assumed the captaincy and Leo Gonzalez made his first start since May. Servando Carrasco started in place of Osvaldo Alonso in central midfield.
Contrary to all Frank Yallop’s indications about fielding his strongest side, San Jose dropped Jon Busch, Steven Lenhart and Chris Wondolowski.
Khari Stephenson made his first start since Rafa Marquez’s assault put the Jamaican out of the game.
Servando Carrasco set the early tone and put a late tackle on Alan Gordon signaling that Osvaldo Alonso’s absence did not mean a softer side.
Shea Salinas missed the first chance for the home side after Gonzales slipped but the former Whitecap failed to trouble Weber.
Sounders scored the decisive through the Trinidadian Cordell Cato in the 18th minute from a narrow angle after work by Gonzales and Rose.
Weber in the Seattle goal had to be alert with a clawed save, preserving Sounders parity after a superb diving save ended a pinball sequence. From the corner, Ike Opara thought he had equalised but the official Reyes disallowed it for a handball.
No changes were made at half time. Bingham was much at fault for the goal but saved San Jose seconds into the second half to deny Cato his second. Alan Gordon was booked for a cynical tackle on Scott again within the opening minutes of the half. Not to be outdone, Scott followed him into the book minutes later for another foul.
Yallop brought out his two marquee attackers, Wondolowski and Lenhart in the 50th minute to up the stakes.
Weber made another great save to deny a 56th minute Gordon header. His opposite number Bingham had to be smart to catch a Levesque effort with 23 minutes left.
Despite most of the pressure, San Jose were fairly easily contained by the Scott-led defence displaying a togetherness so absent from the last two away matches.
“Tonight we did what we had to do. Our character is good. Our guys are still together.
Our guys still believe in themselves,” said Sigi Schmid on the pitch after the whistle.
Sounders Pat Ianni added:
“We needed a win after the stretch we’ve been on. Those guys are tough, They come hard. It can be a kick start. We’ll have a little bit bigger field to play on (in New England). Perhaps we’ll have the ball on the ground a little bit more.”
Seattle Sounders FC – Andrew Weber, Brad Evans, Zach Scott, Pat Ianni, Leo Gonzalez, Cordell Cato (Marc Burch 83), Servando Carrasco, Andy Rose, Alvaro Fernandez (Jhon Kennedy Hurtado 89), Roger Levesque, Sammy Ochoa (Eddie Johnson 76).
Substitutes Not Used: Bryan Meredith, Alex Caskey, Mike Seamon, Fredy Montero.
TOTAL SHOTS: 8; SHOTS ON GOAL: 4; FOULS: 9; OFFSIDE: 1; CORNER KICKS: 3; SAVES: 4.
San Jose Earthquakes – David Bingham, Steven Beitashour, Victor Bernardez, Ike Opara, Justin Morrow, Rafael Baca (Marvin Chavez 80), Sam Cronin, Tressor Moreno (Steven Lenhart 54), Shea Salinas, Khari Stephenson (Chris Wondolowski 53), Alan Gordon.
Substitutes Not Used: Jon Busch, Jean-Marc Alexandre, Jason Hernandez, Jed Zayner.
TOTAL SHOTS: 7; SHOTS ON GOAL: 4; FOULS: 12; OFFSIDE: 3; CORNER KICKS: 11; SAVES: 4.