Cal FC caught the fancy of fans across the country -- across the globe -- with its unfathomable run through the U.S. Open Cup, and the Thousand Oaks-based amateur club did its best to give the mighty Seattle Sounders a battle Tuesday night.
It managed to do so for a little more than a half, but a penalty kick opened the gates, and the Major League Soccer powerhouse poured in five goals over roughly 20 minutes to cruise to a 5-0 fourth-round triumph in Tukwila, Wash.
Osvaldo Alonso and Fredy Montero scored two goals apiece and the Sounders, winners of the last three trophies in the 99-year-old tournament, outshot Cal FC, 28-4, to romp into a quarterfinal showdown June 26 against the San Jose Earthquakes in San Francisco.
“I think we bit off more than we could chew, and, obviously, Seattle is a fantastic team,” Cal FC manager Eric Wynalda said afterward on Fox Soccer Channel's coverage of the match. “We were talking about it at halftime: Would we be able to stay with them? We got a little unfortunate with the penalty kick -- that certainly didn't help -- but [the Sounders are a] classy team, and I expect Seattle to be a contender to win this whole thing again.”
It was scoreless until the 50th minute, when a Montero blast struck Beto Navarro's arm, and Alonso barely beat Cal goalkeeper Derby Castillo to the left post.
The Sounders already were in charge by that point, but Cal FC -- a veteran group of undervalued players, most of them pros, that Wynalda put together in February -- gave an admirable performance, holding off repeated Seattle attacks and moving the ball around nicely without penetrating Seattle's defense. Castillo, midfielder Pablo Cruz and defender Jesus Gonzalez were solid all night.
“We weren't happy with some of the things we did [in the first half], but [Cal FC] played well,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid told FSC, which employs Wynalda as an on-air analyst and served as jersey sponsor for his team Tuesday night. “We weren't worried about a lot in front of our goal, but they did a good job of keeping possession, spreading the ball around. They're quick, they're technical, they're a good team.”
Cal FC managed just one shot on goal -- a 17th-minute Danny Barrera drive off of a corner kick sent straight at Seattle goalkeeper Bryan Meredith -- and never looked particularly dangerous.
The Sounders might have scored three or four or more before Alonso's spot kick, and Montero made it 2-0 in the 58th, finishing a Cordell Cato feed after Riverside's Sammy Ochoa won a midfield header. Rookie Andy Rose, from UCLA, scored the third eight minutes later -- after Carrillo parried an Ochoa header off the crossbar -- and Montero and Alonso followed with spectacular strikes over two-minute intervals.
Moreno's goal was initially flagged for offside -- a reasonable call -- but referee Daniel Radford overruled the decision after conferring with his linesman. Alonso's chip and volley from 32 yards was an jaw-dropping finale.
“The penalty got us off the schneid, more or less, and then we found some goals after that,” Schmid said. “A couple great goals, too: Montero's near-post run [on the second goal] and Ozzie's bomb from outside. Those were just great goals.”
Cal FC, which upset the Portland Timbers in last week's third round, achieved more than was thought possible in the tournament, knocking out three professional teams and, according to Wynalda, drawing offers for about a half-dozen of his players, with perhaps a few more to come.
“The whole thing's been a great ride,” said Wynalda, a Hall of Fame forward who played in three World Cups and starred in Germany and MLS. “I think for these kids, that's all they ever wanted is a chance to play with the big boys. This is a lesson. This is one of those things where you get in a game like this with a team that can beat you, you take it with you. You learn from it and you move on.”
The run also showcased Wynalda's abilities running a team. He's always been outspoken, and much of what he's said over the years -- and how he's said it -- hasn't always sit well with the establishment. It's overshadowed his gifts for coaching, and his public candidacies for jobs with Chivas USA and the Chicago Fire led nowhere. The past four weeks has revealed him in greater depth.
“Eric's shown he can do a great job,” said Schmid, whom Wynalda credits for igniting his playing career. “One of the big parts of coaching is recognizing talent and being able to bring in players you think can play, and you've got to give them belief.
“As a coach, he's done that, and as a manager, he's found some players who have technical abilities, have skills. He's given them confidence, given them a chance to play. And those are two veery good things that you need to have in order to be a successful coach.”
U.S. OPEN CUP
Starfire Sports Complex (Tukwila, Wash.)
Seattle Sounders 5, Cal FC 0
S -- Osvaldo Alonso pen. 50
S -- Fredy Montero (Cordell Cato) 58
S -- Andy Rose 66
S -- Fredy Montero 68
S -- Osvaldo Alonso (Alex Caskey) 70
Seattle Sounders: Bryan Meredith; Zach Scott, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Marc Burch; Cordell Cato, Osvaldo Alonso (Servando Carrasco, 75), Andy Rose, Alex Caskey; Sammy Ochoa (Roger Levesque, 73), Fredy Montero (David Estrada, 81). Unused subs: Alvaro Fernandez, Mike Seamon, Andrew Weber.
Cal FC: Derby Carrillo; Hector Espinoza (Paulo Ferreira-Mendes, 74), Beto Navarro, Jesus Gonzalez, Mike Randolph; Diego Barrera, Pablo Cruz (Alex Caceres, 66), Richard Menjivar, Eder Arreola (Pedro Ferreira-Mendes, 60); Artur Aghasyan, Danny Barrera. Unused subs: Laurent Grill, Cesar Rivera, Carlos Torres, Kai Werring.
Yellow cards: Alonso 19, Ochoa 45, Menjivar 74.
Referee: Daniel Radford. Att.: 3,894.