By John Boyle Herald Writer
TUKWILA — An underdog story fit for Hollywood was derailed by a harsh dose of reality Tuesday night.
Cal FC, the amateur team that knocked off three professional teams to make the round of 16 in the U.S. Open Cup, traveled north hoping to extend its unlikely run through the tournament against the Seattle Sounders, the three-time reigning Open Cup champs. Instead, the Sounders were more than happy to play the role of villain in Cal FC’s feel-good story.
Seattle dominated the team from Thousand Oaks, Calif., in a 5-0 victory played before a crowd of 3,894 at Starfire Stadium and a national TV audience on the Fox Soccer Channel.
“We told our guys before the game: ‘The TV’s aren’t here for you. They’re here for them. So we need to show them that we have a team, too, and that we can play soccer as well.’” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said.
And while it took Seattle a half to get going, it did end up emphatically showing that it was the better team, and by a large margin at that.
“Seattle’s a fantastic soccer team and they’ve got fantastic players. We saw their quality tonight,” said Cal FC coach Eric Wynalda, a former U.S. National Team standout who put together this team as a showcase for young players hoping to launch or revive professional careers.
And while Wynalda and his players were upset to see their Cinderella story come to an end, they could also appreciate what they had accomplished.
“All in all, if you look at the goals that we set for ourselves, we did exceed a lot of people’s expectations,” Wynalda said.
He also had a sense of humor about the loss, opening his postgame comments by saying, “I thought at four we were still in there. The fifth one got us.”
Sounders FC plays a quarterfinal match on June 26 against San Jose at San Francisco’s Kezar Stadium, Seattle’s first game against an MLS opponent in this year’s Open Cup. San Jose beat Seattle 1-0 in league play earlier this season.
As was a case in last week’s 5-1 Open Cup win over the Atlanta Silverbacks, Seattle couldn’t score early despite dominating possession, but then found its scoring touch in a big way in the second half.
Osvaldo Alonso converted a penalty kick in the 50th minute to open the scoring. The penalty was awarded after a Fredy Montero shot was knocked down by the arm of Cal FC midfielder Jesus Gonzalez. Montero didn’t have to wait long for a goal of his own, scoring in the 58th minute off of a Cordell Cato cross.
“The first half was difficult because they were very strong in their defense,” Alonso said through a translator. “But in the second half we entered the field feeling happy and positive about the fact that if we score the first goal the next goal and the next goal and the next goal were going to come.”
The goals indeed keep coming, and not long after Montero’s goal, the game became a blowout in very rapid fashion. Andy Rose scored his second Open Cup goal in as many games when he redirected an Alex Caskey header to make it 3-0 in the 66th minute. Two minutes later, Montero scored when a curling free kick from long range crossed up Cal FC goalkeeper Derby Carrillo, and two minutes after that, Alonso made it 5-0 with a beautiful strike from 35 yards out.
“Alonso’s goal, even I stood up and applauded it,” Wynalda said. “It was probably one of the best goals I’ve seen in a while.”
While Seattle’s second-half dominance was a repeat of last week’s win, the night played out much differently for Cal FC than it did a week ago. Playing in Portland, Cal FC was under attack all night against the Timbers, but managed to keep the game scoreless through 90 minutes. Cal FC then stunned Timbers fans — and soccer fans around the country — by scoring in extra time on its way to a 1-0 win.
But instead of a tense final few minutes, this game featured Sounders fans chanting “This ain’t Portland” with Seattle comfortably ahead.
“Seattle, they just have more quality than Portland,” Wynalda said.
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org.