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Fire

Seattle Tops Chicago, Wins 3rd straight Open Cup

Fredy Montero #17 of the Seattle Sounders FC holds the U.S. Open Cup trophy after defeating the Chicago Fire 2-0 in the 2011 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Final at CenturyLink Field on October 4, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Fredy Montero #17 of the Seattle Sounders FC holds the U.S. Open Cup trophy after defeating the Chicago Fire 2-0 in the 2011 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Final at CenturyLink Field on October 4, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

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Seattle (AP) — Fredy Montero collected a loose ball off a corner kick scramble and slid it past Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson in the 78th minute, and the Seattle Sounders FC won the U.S. Open Cup for the third straight year with a 2-0 win over the Fire on Tuesday night.

Playing before a record crowd of 35,615 — the largest ever for any game in the competition — Montero was in the perfect position to clean up after Johnson made a diving save on Jeff Parke’s header off a corner kick. The goal capped three minutes of massive pressure by the Sounders. Osvaldo Alonso capped the victory with a breakaway goal in the final minute of stoppage time.

Seattle is the first club in more than 40 years to win three straight titles in the oldest competition in American soccer.

New York Greek-American, from 1967-69, was the last club to win three straight in the tournament. It’s a tournament the Sounders found success in before becoming a MLS franchise, then took with seriousness after joining the top level of American soccer.

The victory will likely mean another berth in the CONCACAF Champions League as well for Seattle. The Sounders have advanced to the quarterfinal round in this year’s CCL.

While Seattle dominated the competition in recent seasons, Chicago wasn’t unfamiliar with Open Cup success. The Fire owned four Open Cup titles before Tuesday night, the last coming in 2006. Interim Fire coach Frank Klopas scored the winning goal when Chicago beat Columbus for the title in 1998.

It was Montero’s second Open Cup final goal, scoring one in 2009 in Washington when the Sounders collected the first of their three trophies with a 2-1 win over D.C. United. Montero also scored the only goal in Seattle’s semifinal victory over Dallas in late August.

Montero nearly gave Seattle the lead just before halftime. Given free run through the Chicago defense, he moved to the top of the box and let off a right-footed shot that got past Johnson only to hit square on the post and ricochet away.

It was the best chance of the half for Seattle, but there were plenty others. Johnson made a right-footed kick save of Mike Fucito’s close shot in the eighth minute, then had to punch away Alvaro Fernandez’s half-volley off a back-heel pass from Fucito just moments before Montero clanked the post.

Fucito was also denied by the post early in the second half. Lamar Neagle’s flick header found Fucito’s foot and he was able to chip a shot over Johnson, only to see it hit the far post and bounce away.

Chicago’s best chance in the first half came in the 39th minute when Marco Pappa’s left-footed shot from distance deflected off a Sounders defender and changed direction. Already sliding to his right, Seattle goalkeeper Kasey Keller made a quick move back to his left and clutched the redirected shot.

Tuesday’s victory adds another notch in a monumental few weeks for the Sounders, where they advanced in the CCL, clinched a MLS playoff spot for the third straight season and claimed the Cascadia Cup in their regional rivalry with MLS newcomers Vancouver and Portland.