And the Seattle Sounders please their long-suffering fans with their first trophy in twelve months of hurt. The Sounders are the first repeat Open Cup champions since 1983, when the Pancyprian Freedoms became the most successful franchise in the history of New York City.* (The island of Cyprus has yet to be inspired enough by this accomplishment to reunify, however.)
The real impressive achievement was in the stands. Over 31,000 color-blind, fashion-impaired loyalists made American soccer history, obliterating the previous Cup attendance record. Hopefully this makes up for not hosting it the year before.
It's about time the Open Cup attendance record was broken - it was kind of ridiculous, in this New Golden Age of American Soccer, to still have an attendance record standing from 1929. It's nice that the Sounders and their fans broke it so decisively, because that particular mark shows an ongoing failure of US Soccer to make this tournament more relevant.
The Sounders seem to be intent on doing US Soccer's work for them, though, in promoting this tournament. Cheerfully abetted by Simon Borg, there's no hint on the MLS site that the league wants to de-emphasize the tournament:
I wasn't aware that MLS teams had the choice of staying away, and probably Bruce Arena wasn't, either. One hopes that the Crew, despite their insane fixture congestion this year, would have competed anyway, what with the "LH" they have on their shirts. (Although the Sounders also had CONCACAF obligations, and it didn't keep them from taking the Open Cup seriously.)
Would Sigi and the Sounders have been as strident about the glory and pageantry of the US Open Cup had the Crew beat them? Only a cold-hearted cynic would even consider the possibility.
Robert Warzycha, of course, was typically gracious in victory:
Oh. Was Bob aware that the game was televised, and we could see for ourselves? As if the opening goal wasn't the embodiment of "against the run of play." I suppose the Sounders were lucky that Gruenebaum was hilariously out of position on the first Seattle goal, and equally lucky that Frankie Hejduk is a shell of his former self, and pretty lucky that Barros Schelotto chose to waste his time at forward.
But the Crew haven't beaten anybody in MLS in over a month - and even then, it was DC United, so it shouldn't count. If the Sounders were lucky, then there are a lot of other lucky teams out there. The MLS website article has it wrong - the Crew aren't just hitting the skids, they're beating the crap out of them.
It's a shame, then, that Steve Sirk's fantastic Open Cup diary had to end so poorly. Having made an Open Cup Final pilgrimage to Chicago (loss) and an MLS Cup Final pilgrimage to Seattle (loss), I can definitely empathize.
*Fun fact - the Cosmos never won a championship in New York City. Also, they were too chickensh*t to enter the Open Cup anyway.