Sounders FC

Sounders advance in U.S. Open Cup

The team crests and colors were the same, but this was no rematch.

Seattle Sounders FC defeated the Colorado Rapids, 1-0, on Tuesday at Starfire Sports Stadium to advance to the round of 16 in the U.S. Open Cup.

However, both lineups were almost fully revised from what the teams used Saturday in their MLS regular-season draw in Colorado.

The Rapids went with one repeat starter: midfielder Mehdi Ballouchy. The Sounders went with four: Kasey Keller, Nathan Sturgis, Sebastien Le Toux and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado. Coach Sigi Schmid said he wouldn’t have used that many except for a series of injuries that gave him no alternative.

Seattle’s midfield was populated by one player out of his usual position (Sturgis), two little-used players (Sanna Nyassi and Stephen King) and one never-used player (Kevin Forrest).

However, it was Forrest – an Edmonds native and former University of Washington standout making his Sounders debut – who got the lone goal in the 62nd minute, heading in a ball that had been flicked on by Roger Levesque after a long throw-in by Nyassi.

“It just a long throw,” Forrest said. “Roger ran to the post, and it was just anticipation. I thought the best-case scenario, he flicks it and I have a chance; worst case it doesn’t, but you don’t lose anything by making the run. Coach always talks about anticipation in the box and it just paid off. I ran in, the other guy was flat-footed and I just slammed the header in.”

It was a rare moment of coherence in at game that sometimes seemed like a reserve game and at other times like a pick-up game between players who had never previously met.

And Schmid missed the goal entirely.

“I was busy trying to organize something and I was looking away from the play at the moment,” Schmid said. “I heard it was a long throw-in from Sanna and Roger flicked it on and Kevin headed it off the ground. It was a good goal.”

For most of the first hour, the Sounders didn’t seem to have much faith in their chances of connecting enough passes together to work the ball up the field with any precision. So they resorted to long ball after long ball, hoping something good would happen.

Every now and then, it almost did.

The Sounders had a pair of near-miss flurries in the first half. And Nyassi seemed a constant threat, routinely speeding into open space down the right side.

“Today was a matter of guys getting minutes who hadn’t gotten minutes,” Schmid said. “With the injury to Taylor Graham (on Monday), it forced us to move Sturgis to the midfield because we had to move (Patrick) Ianni back – although I thought Patrick Ianni played very well today as a central defender; I thought he was very good.

“We were able to give more minutes to Tyson Wahl as an outside back, so that was a positive for us as well. Stephen King got minutes, so that was a positive. It was good to get Sanna minutes as well.”

X-rays revealed Graham suffered a fracture of the third metatarsal of his right foot. He has been placed on the injured reserve list and must miss at least six weeks.

Meanwhile, Colorado sent only four shots at Keller.

The Rapids’ lineup featured two players with local connections: keeper Preston Burpo, formerly of the USL Sounders; and midfielder Ciaran O’Brien of Federal Way and Decatur High School, formerly a Tacoma Tide and USL Sounder.

The Sounders will resume U.S. Open Cup play June 30 against an opponent to be determined at a site to be determined.

They return to league play Saturday night when defending MLS champion Columbus visits Qwest Field.

Schmid said that midfielder Freddie Ljungberg is expected to be available to face the Crew after missing the past three games due to migraines. He seemed less certain about midfielder Brad Evans, who suffered an injury to his left knee.

Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com

blogs.thenewstribune.com/soccer

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