US Open Cup: MLS Recovers…Sort of

Looks like we have an all-Major League Soccer (MLS) final for the Lamar Hunt Kelloggs’ Rice Krispies U.S. Open Cup (LHKRKUSOC) on our hands – though it didn’t look that way till very late with both MLS teams relying on overtime to get through the semifinals.  Moreover, judging by FC Dallas’ win, one could argue the top-flight teams relied a little on a seemingly superior talent for conning the ref for their chief competitive edge.  I’m not talking egregious examples, mind you, but that’s kind of the point; it’s a subtle art and FC Dallas, at least, certainly had it down.

Could that really be the final piece to building a better professional?

I didn’t see the New England Revolution’s (slim) win over the USL-1 Carolina RailHawks and can therefore only pass on what I read: ‘twas a tight game, not unlike Dallas’ (slim) win over the Seattle Sounders…speaking of which…

The notes I took on last night’s game didn’t merit posting – I can’t say whether that’s down to the game or where my head was last night.  On the other hand, I can say the fact that few would mistake this game for a classic came to me around the end of regulation.  Was it close?  Certainly, though that applies to any game settled in overtime.  Hard-fought?  On one side, yes; that would be the Seattle side.  Whether Dallas suffered from fatigue or complacency I never quite pinned down, but they adopted a static, ball-watching approach that amounted to passing the ball to a succession of their players to watch them run at Seattle’s defense (e.g. “Here’s the ball, Juan.  You run at ‘em and we’ll keep an eye on things back here.”  “Here’s the ball, Arturo.  You run at ‘em…” etc.).

Both sides had their chances, though I’d give Seattle the edge in quality and menace over the game’s first 60 minutes.  Leighton O’Brien certainly kept Dallas’ defense busy as did (I think this is his name) Sebastian Le Toux and Taylor Graham (I watched extended stretches without sound, so I’m a bit weak on the names).  Dallas did have their forays toward Seattle’s goal, but it definitely took them a while to either warm to the task or get used to Qwest Field’s turf.  By the end of the game, though, Dallas’ attack gained momentum and urgency, even if the organizational side of things made only rare and feeble appearances.  All the same, the slightest whiff of the inevitable attended Dallas’ first goal.

Two more goals came – one a penalty-kick that simply had to be called, the other pulled back by Seattle too late to make a difference – but the first one decided it.  Hell, one could say Seattle hitting the crossbar once and failing to capitalize on multiple corners decided the game.  Dallas, to their credit, scrambled bodies across the defense when it counted, Sala came up big enough, and the MLS club even offered a half-competent attempt at killing off the game in the overtime period – though it’s here where the ref’s love of theater entered the game.  Dallas players not only made the most of any contact, but conjured a few game-delaying performances where no contact was made.  The online feed came from a Seattle broadcast and the Sounders’ homer announcers howled and laughed through all this.  And it was cynical, to be sure, but it also worked.  So, yeah, welcome to the Big Time, rubes.

Taken together, MLS upheld the top-flight’s reputation, if only just, but at least one of the finalists hardly covered themselves in glory in doing it.  As for Seattle, they argued more forcefully than any club in the country that the gap between the best of the USL and MLS isn’t as big as we might think it is.

And that was with a designated player (Denilson) on the field.

(Dang it.  I did want to mention one possibility here; it occurred to me as I watched that the introduction of Denilson might be at least a partial culprit for the timing and movement issues in the Dallas.  Then again, they looked just plain lazy/tired with fair frequency.  At least Denilson and Toja combined well here and there.)

3 Responses

  1. We are proud of how our Sounders fought until the bitter end.

  2. I’m just hacked off y’all didn’t win it….I could have hopped up I-5 and caught the final…

  3. […] some folks enjoyed last night’s FC Dallas v. Seattle Sounders semifinal quite a bit more than I did; at least one guy positively reveled in it. What can I say? I’m bald and it’s making me […]

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