TUKWILA, Wash. – With a 12-game unbeaten streak and a league-best 10-2-8 record, the Los Angeles Galaxy might be the most feared team in MLS.
When it comes to the U.S. Open Cup, however, Sounders FC is clearly the team to beat.
Two-time defending champion Seattle proved that again Wednesday night in a 3-1 quarterfinal win against the Galaxy. Nate Jaqua and Fredy Montero scored first-half goals and Lamar Neagle added insurance in the second half as the Sounders cruised in front of 4,322 at Starfire Stadium.
Sounders FC, which also beat L.A. in an Open Cup quarterfinal last year, will host FC Dallas in the semifinal round here on Aug. 30.
A Seattle team, including the Sounders of the United Soccer Leagues, has advanced to the final four of the knockout tournament five years in a row.
The Sounders got off to a blazing start, with scoring chances coming fast and often in the first half. Jaqua put Seattle ahead 1-0 in the fourth minute – 1 minute after hitting the post with a header – after collecting a pass behind the L.A. defense from midfielder Pat Noonan and finishing past goalkeeper Josh Saunders. Jaqua has eight career Open Cup goals (seven for Seattle and one with Chicago).
The Sounders FC forward turned provider in the 25th minute, sending a cross to Montero, who cut the ball back to his left foot and fired a shot past Saunders to make it 2-0.
The Galaxy then went on the attack and pulled a goal back in the 40th minute, when forward Adam Cristman knocked in a cross from midfielder Chris Birchall. L.A. nearly tied the score just before the halftime whistle, but Seattle goalkeeper Terry Boss made a big save on Birchall’s open shot from the right side.
The Sounders had a 10-8 advantage in shots at the break.
Neagle sealed the win in the 74th minute, finishing a cross in front of the goal after midfielder Alvaro Fernandez made a great run down the right side.
Galaxy star David Beckham didn’t make the trip, but L.A.’s two other designated players were available: Landon Donovan and Juan Pablo Angel.