Life goes on.
That was the rather simple message that was emanating from an understandably disappointed Seattle Sounders locker room following their penalty kick shootout loss to Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday in the final of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup final.
The loss ended a three-year run of Open Cup domination and kept the Sounders from becoming the first team in the 99-year-old tournament’s history to win four straight titles.
HIGHLIGHTS: SKC 2, SEA 1
The run to this year’s final may have been the Sounders’ most impressive. Despite this result, they ended the tournament outscoring their opponents 16-3. Their most impressive win was over the Supporters’ Shield-leading San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 at San Francisco’s Kezar Stadium in the quarterfinals on less than 48 hours rest.
“Our backs were against the wall this whole tournament,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said. “It was as difficult a road as it could be. I’m very proud of what our team did, getting to this point and battling and not giving up and taking the game into overtime and battling through all the obstacles that we had to face.”
The Sounders did, however, continue another impressive streak, as they avoided losing in regulation for a modern-Open Cup record 22 games. Dating back to their days in the USL, the Sounders last trailed at the end of 90 minutes in 2005. They’ve now advanced to six straight Open Cup semifinals and became just the third team in tournament history to make as many as four consecutive finals.
“Obviously, it’s a great run,” said Sounders defender Zach Scott, who is the last remaining player from the USL team and has been with the organization since 2002. “It didn’t end like we hoped it would, but I think we’re still proud of the quality that we put into this game. We gave ourselves a good chance to win. The circumstances just didn’t work in our favor. Our focus has to be quickly on the league and the game this Saturday against San Jose" (10:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
Getting ready for that encounter will not be easy. Not only was the Open Cup final emotionally draining, but it surely took a physical toll as well. The game ran 129 minutes, including stoppage time, and was played in the kind of heat and humidity to which the Sounders are rarely subjected.
In a season in which the Sounders have played more games across all competitions than any other team in the league and suffered some deflating losses along the way, this is nothing new.
“It’s not the end of the world for us,” Sounders forward Eddie Johnson said. “We know we’re a good team. We’ll turn things around. It’s the first team I’ve been on where I’ve never seen this team put their head down after a loss.”
Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com and SB Nation.