Rebound Hristov goal, Restrepo penalty save bounce Sounders from Open Cup
By Michael Ligot
ST. PETERSBURG, FLA — As a Division II side, the Seattle Sounders knocked out a few MLS sides in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. As an MLS side, they found out how the other half lives.
Georgi Hristov’s goal and Diego Restrepo’s late penalty save led the defending NASL champion Tampa Bay Rowdies to a 1-0 defeat of the Seattle Sounders FC. The third-round Open Cup exit marked the first time the five-year-old MLS Sounders went one-and-done in the tournament, never mind the first time they will not participate in the final.
With a quarter-hour left, Tampa Bay’s Luke Mulholland fired a shot that Marcus Hahnemann leaped to deflect. An unmarked Hristov on the opposite side was able to collect the rebound and tap the ball in. Hahnemann, deputizing for regular starter Michael Gspurning, could do nothing to stop it.
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Ten minutes later, the Rowdies handed Seattle a golden chance to tie the game.
Referee Cedric Adams ejected defender Jordan Gafa for a penalty area handball and pointed to the spot.
Obafemi Martins, who came on for rookie defender Dylan Remick after Hristov’s goal, struck a low shot to Restrepo’s right post, but the Venezuelan goalkeeper dove and punched it away.
The crowd at Al Lang Stadium erupted, and unleashed more noise when Seattle’s immediate follow-ups and two corners went begging.
The Rowdies saw off the remainder, including five stopped minutes, to earn the upset and join three other lower-division teams (as of press time) that knocked off MLS teams, all at home. Minutes earlier, the NASL Carolina Railhawks beat an understrength Los Angeles Galaxy 2-0. Yesterday, two third-tier USL Pro teams did the deed, the Charleston Battery 1-0 over the San Jose Earthquakes and Orlando City SC 3-1 over the Colorado Rapids.
Tampa Bay, who entered the NASL in 2010 as FC Tampa Bay, is now 2-1 all-time in the Open Cup, having defeated the NPSL Jacksonville United 3-0 and lost to Colorado 3-1 last season when they rebranded with the original NASL team’s name. FCTB never participated n the Cup. The MLS Tampa Bay Mutiny, an original 1996 franchise that folded after the 2001 season, reached the Round of 16 in their first four years.
In their A-League/USL incarnation, the Sounders had some impressive MLS scalps themselves. They beat Landon Donovan’s Earthquakes 1-0 in the 2003 Round of 16, and in 2007 drilled Chivas USA 3-1 and Colorado 5-0 before falling to FC Dallas 2-1 in extra time.
Seattle completed its D-II Cup participation the next year by knocking off the Goats again and the Kansas City Wizards in penalties before falling to Osvaldo Alonso’s USL Charleston Battery in the semifinals.
The Rowdies play their fourth-round match Wednesday, June 12, against the winner of the MLS Portland Timbers-USL Pro Wilmington Hammerheads, who were playing at press time.
They next play FC Edmonton in league play Sunday. Seattle, which goes into the summer months with neither post-third-round Cup nor CONCACAF Champions League fixtures for the first time in MLS, returns to the league Saturday visiting Chivas USA.
1) Tampa Bay, Hristov (Mulholland) 75′
Tampa Bay: Restrepo; Gafa, D. Scott, Yamada, Arango; Mulholland, Hill, Savage, Cox; Hristov, Del Do (Ambersley 64′).
Seattle: Hahnemann; Remick (Martins 80′), Hurtado, Z. Scott, Burch; Martínez, Carrasco, Rose, Caskey (Ochoa 68′); Estrada, Neagle.
Officials: refereee Adams.
- Constructed in 1947, Al Lang Stadium served as a spring-training home for myriad Major League Baseball teams until 2009. The baseball configuration remains, both for the field and the seats.
- With Mauro Rosales not in Florida and Brad Evans on national team duty, Mario Martínez handled most of Seattle’s corner and direct kicks.
- Besides the Scott brothers Zach (Sounders) and Daniel (Rowdies) playing against each other, there was another Northwest tie between the teams. Rowdies midfielder Raphael Cox hails from Tacoma.
- Rowdies coach Ricky Hill also has giant-killing pedigree; he was part of the 1988 Luton Town team that upset Arsenal in the League Cup final.