MLS Super Tuesday: Sounders Win Third Straight U.S. Open Cup, NY Tops LA

New York topped LA in a big MLS match, but Seattle stole the headlines as they won yet another U.S. Open Cup by knocking off Chicago 2-0 in the final

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Seattle Sounders Vs. Chicago Fire, 2011 U.S. Open Cup Final: Sounders Win Third Straight Open Cup

The first team to win three straight U.S. Open Cups in the professional era is the Seattle Sounders and it took them all of three years to do it. The Sounders have now won all three Open Cups they have played in since moving to MLS after defeating the Chicago Fire, 2-0,  in the 2011 Cup final at CenturyLink Field before more than 35,000 people. It took 78 minutes for the Sounders to finally go in front, but Fredy Montero was there to put them on top then Osvaldo Alonso found a second goal in injury time to seal the trophy for Seattle.

At no point did it look like the Fire would win. Seattle were better from the get-go and the surge in form that saw Chicago win match after match was missing. The Fire gave the ball away regularly and the Sounders had chances. For much of the match, those chances went begging though. That is partly because Sean Johnson was in top form, making several great saves to keep the Sounders off the board. The post also did its part, denying Montero in the first half then Mike Fucito in the second half.

Finally, Montero broke though with just a dozen minutes left in the match. Jeff Parke rose to meet a corner kick and headed it down for what could have been a goal, but Johnson was there to get down and deny him. The Fire players just watched as Montero jumped on the rebound though and blasted it home for the go-ahead goal.

To put a nice ribbon on the championship, Alonso scored a tremendous goal six minutes into injury time to send CenturyLink Field into a frenzy. The midfielder, who had done a brilliant job all match breaking up every Chicago attack, got forward on his own this time and danced his way through the Fire defense. Finally, he split two defenders right in front of goal and sent Johnson sliding out to take out his own defender before finishing into an open net.

The final whistle blew and the Sounders players stormed onto the field. They gathered in a circle, dancing in celebration before getting together on the stage where Kasey Keller lifted yet another Sounders U.S. Open Cup trophy.

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New York Red Bulls Vs. Los Angeles Galaxy, 2011 MLS: Full Time, RBNY Inch Closer To Playoffs

The New York Red Bulls got off to a rough start in their borderline must-win MLS matchup against the Los Angeles Galaxy on Tuesday night, but they were eventually able to bring out the quality in their side. Thanks to a victory over LA by a final score of 2-0, the Red Bulls now sit securely in a playoff spot in MLS and will be in control of their own destiny going forward.

Los Angeles thoroughly outplayed their hosts in the opening 30 minutes, but couldn't make the most of their opportunities. Juninho and Paolo Cardozo both had nice long distance shots saved by Frank Rost, while Chad Barrett missed multiple close-range opportunities. David Beckham was brilliant early on, playing a number of great long balls to his teammates, but his influence on the game lessened as time wore on.

The Red Bulls found their opener on a corner kick in the 33rd minute, and from that point on, it was an entirely different game. Joel Lindpere took the corner that led to the goal, hitting the head of Teemu Tainio. Donovan Ricketts made a good save on the header, but Luke Rodgers was waiting to pounce on the rebound and poked it into the top of the net for a goal. From that point forward, New York would be on the front foot.

New York's second goal came in the 59th minute, and that goal sealed the deal. It came on an incredible bit of quality from Rafael Marquez, who played a spectacular long ball to Thierry Henry, and a finish that was almost as good from the French international. The two Designated Players haven't done a whole lot of combining in their time in New York, but this rare occasion was a treat to watch.

In the end, the absence of LA's stars was obvious and crippling. Beckham and Juninho did enough to create decent chances that Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane probably would have finished, but Barrett and Cardozo didn't have the quality to do so. Still, there's nothing to take away from the Red Bulls, who were the better team for 55-60 minutes of the match and deserved the three points.

For more on the two teams, be sure to check out LA Galaxy blog LAG Confidential and Red Bulls blog Once A Metro. For live coverage of Red Bulls-Galaxy and the U.S. Open Cup final between Seattle Sounders and the Chicago Fire later tonight, keep it on our MLS Super Tuesday StoryStream.

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New York Red Bulls Vs. Los Angeles Galaxy Live, 2011 MLS: Thierry Henry Goal Doubles RBNY Lead

Just under 60 minutes into the game between the New York Red Bulls and Los Angeles Galaxy, and it's starting to show that LA are missing some of their best players. Though, there's not a whole lot they could have done about this one, as Rafael Marquez and Thierry Henry made a rare combination in which both looked like they were well worth the large paychecks they're currently earning. Thanks to Marquez's assist and Henry's finish, the Red Bulls are up 2-0.

The move started with a giveaway in midfield, as Juninho lost the ball to Teemu Tainio. The Finnish international touched the ball to Marquez, who played a spectacular ball over the top of the Galaxy midfield and defense for Thierry Henry to run into. AJ Delagarza could have possibly defended a little better, but this goal was certainly not his fault and there's no reason to take anything away from the Red Bulls. Henry scored with a cheeky chipped finish to the far post past Frank Rost, and the Red Bulls now lead comfortably.

For more on the two teams, be sure to check out LA Galaxy blog LAG Confidential and Red Bulls blog Once A Metro. For live coverage of Red Bulls-Galaxy and the U.S. Open Cup final between Seattle Sounders and the Chicago Fire later tonight, keep it on our MLS Super Tuesday StoryStream.

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New York Red Bulls Vs. Los Angeles Galaxy Live, 2011 MLS: Halftime, RBNY Has 1-0 Lead

Luke Rodgers has the New York Red Bulls up by a score of 1-0 on the Los Angeles Galaxy at halftime, but he should have had at least one more goal. Incredibly, when Rodgers netted his one goal in the 33rd minute, it was very much against the run of play and it felt undeserved. From that point until the halftime whistle, New York were on top and felt like they should have been able to add to their lead.

In one instance, in particular, Rodgers missed an absolute sitter. After Joel Lindpere played a great ball into the box for Thierry Henry, the Frenchman laid off a ball for Rodgers when he could have shot just as easily. Rodgers had the entire goal at his mercy, but somehow managed to hit the post.

Going the other way, David Beckham has been unbelievably good at playing long balls and through balls into dangerous positions for his teammates, but they've been unable to capitalize. Chad Barrett, in particular, had a very poor first half, squandering a number of good chances. In his same position, it's fair to say that Robbie Keane or Landon Donovan probably would have been able to score.

In the center of midfield, Beckham and Juninho have absolutely won the battle as Rafael Marquez looks a bit lazy. It's generally irresponsible to accuse professional athletes of being lazy when one doesn't interact with them in everyday life, but Marquez has been unbelievably statuesque in the middle, allowing Beckham and Juninho to dictate the pace of the game and play short passes for most of the first half.

Having said that, LA are still trailing and they might not have the quality on their bench to find a goal from the run of play. It's probably going to take a set piece or a defensive error for Los Angeles to score, even though they're the better team in the center of the pitch. Barrett just isn't on his game, while Miguel Lopez and Paolo Cardozo aren't meant to be finishers.

For more on the two teams, be sure to check out LA Galaxy blog LAG Confidential and Red Bulls blog Once A Metro. For live coverage of Red Bulls-Galaxy and the U.S. Open Cup final between Seattle Sounders and the Chicago Fire later tonight, keep it on our MLS Super Tuesday StoryStream.

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New York Red Bulls Vs. Los Angeles Galaxy Live, 2011 MLS: Luke Rodgers Scores Opener

The New York Red Bulls have a vital opening goal, and it's fair to say that it's come against the run of play. The Los Angeles Galaxy have been the better side for the opening 30 minutes, creating more chances and passing the ball well, but the home team are up 1-0 through Luke Rodgers thanks to one set piece.

Teemu Tainio initially got to Joel Lindpere's corner kick with a nice header in the 33rd minute, with Donovan Ricketts making a good save. However, the Galaxy defenders didn't seem to be aware of Rodgers' presence in the six-yard box and he hit the rebound into the roof of the net virtually uncontested.

RBNY have struggled to complete short passes, aren't closing down in the midfield and have allowed Galaxy striker Chad Barrett to get into dangerous positions. It doesn't seem likely that they can hold a 1-0 lead without some kind of serious change, but it's not like the guys LA has on the pitch are anywhere near the quality of Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane as far as finishing goes.

For more on the two teams, be sure to check out LA Galaxy blog LAG Confidential and Red Bulls blog Once A Metro. For live coverage of Red Bulls-Galaxy and the U.S. Open Cup final between Seattle Sounders and the Chicago Fire later tonight, keep it on our MLS Super Tuesday StoryStream.

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New York Red Bulls Vs. Los Angeles Galaxy Live, 2011 MLS: Lineup Analysis

Since Rafael Marquez has been doing a fair bit of complaining about how his defensive partners have played in the back line, the New York Red Bulls' Designated Player will start his second consecutive game in the center of midfield on Tuesday night, as his team takes on the Los Angeles Galaxy. Marquez was solid, but unspectacular in this role last week, and makes up one of the most technically sound central midfield tandems in MLS with Teemu Tainio.

The complete lineups for New York Red Bulls vs. Los Angeles Galaxy can be found here.

However, many have questioned his work rate and it's not an unfair criticism. Marquez likes to stand around and look frustrated when his teammates give away the ball, which is simply not acceptable in central defense or in the defensive midfield position he's now going to be operating in. Tainio will likely do a lot more of the running while Joel Lindpere will help with defending, but Marquez is going to need to up his game for the Red Bulls to control the midfield and avoid getting burned on the counter-attack.

Los Angeles is without their two best forward players, Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan, but they're still fielding a very strong lineup. David Beckham and Juninho start in the middle, while Michael Stephens and Paulo Cardozo are no slouches. Striker Chad Barrett scored a goal last week, while Miguel Lopez has looked very promising in spots.

Thierry Henry will do a fair bit of dropping deep into midfield from his forward position, while Dane Richards has blistering pace and Luke Rodgers is a deadly finisher. It will be important for Omar Gonzalez and A.J. Delagarza to stay disciplined and not get drawn out towards him, and it will be equally important for Beckham to work when his team does not have the ball and avoid leaving all of the dirty work to Juninho.

The teams have matching formations and similar talent, but there are plenty of unknowns that make this matchup compelling. Will RBNY's talent show up? Will Marquez adapt to his new position? Does Rodgers have the quality and Henry the work rate to cause trouble for the solid LA defense? The Red Bulls need a win to solidify their playoff position and put themselves back into a position where they control their own destiny. Hopefully for their fans, that's enough motivation for the moody Henry and Marquez to give their best.

For more on the two teams, be sure to check out LA Galaxy blog LAG Confidential and Red Bulls blog Once A Metro. For live coverage of Red Bulls-Galaxy and the U.S. Open Cup final between Seattle Sounders and the Chicago Fire later tonight, keep it on our MLS Super Tuesday StoryStream.

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New York Red Bulls Vs. LA Galaxy, 2011 MLS: Lineups

The New York Red Bulls host the LA Galaxy in a game that matters for exactly one team. Sure, LA could pad their nigh-unassailable lead over the Seattle Sounders for the Supporters Shield and the #1 seed, but there doesn't appear to be much point, since it would take divine intervention to have the Galaxy slip at this point. For the hosts, it's a different story - they've slumped so badly this season that they're now at real risk of losing their playoff spot to the expansion Portland Timbers. Here're the lineups each side will use tonight.

New York Red Bulls (4-4-2): Frank Rost; Roy Miller, Stephen Keel, Tim Ream, Jan Gunnar Solli; Joel Lindpere, Rafael Marquez, Teemu Tainio, Dane Richards; Luke Rodgers, Thierry Henry.

Substitutes: Alex Horwath, Carlos Mendes, Stephane Auvray, Medhi Ballouchy, Dax McCarty, Juan Agudelo

LA Galaxy (4-4-2): Donovan Ricketts; Frankie Hejduk, A.J. DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez, Todd Dunivant; Michael Stephens, Juninho, David Beckham, Paolo Cardozo; Chad Barrett, Miguel Lopez.

Substitutes: Josh Saunders, Desan Robinson, Bryan Jordan, Dan Keat, Jovan Kirovski, Hector Jimenez, Adam Cristman

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Seattle Sounders Vs. Chicago Fire, 2011 U.S. Open Cup Final: Fire Look To Overcome Bad History Against Sounders - Hot Time In Old Town

Since the Seattle Sounders joined Major League Soccer back in 2009, the Chicago Fire have struggled valiantly against the Cascadia side. In six league matchups, the Fire have yet to record a win against the rave green. Some of those losses have been particularly painful, with the Sounders scoring late winners in fairly even games. On Tuesday night, the Fire will look to overturn those results in the Final of the 2011 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, a competition which they have won a record four times.

Chicago Fire blog Hot Time In Old Town is cautiously optimistic that their team can finally get the monkey off their back and beat the Sounders on Tuesday, thanks to their recent form and some great mid-season acquisitions.

Although the Fire have struggled so far during the Sounders short MLS history, there is not a better time than now to end the slump. We are peaking at the right time, making a hard playoff push and looking like a very dangerous side.  For the first time in a long time Chicago features a dangerous striker in Dominic Oduro. Marco Pappa is looking good of late, and our back line has really solidified. Sean Johnson is looking like the stellar goalkeeper we all know he can be. And newcomers Pavel Pardo and Sebastian Grazzini (health status up in the air aside) have seemed to nudge the Fire over the top.

The Fire will be slight underdogs against the two-time defending champion Sounders on the road in front of a huge crowd at CenturyLink Field, but it would have been hard to imagine the team would be in this situation just a couple of months ago.

For more on the U.S. Open Cup final and the Chicago Fire all season long, head on over to Chicago Fire blog Hot Time In Old Town.

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Seattle Sounders Vs. Chicago Fire, 2011 U.S. Open Cup Final: The Good And The Bad Of Winning The Cup

Winning the U.S. Open Cup has some good things and some potential bad things involved with it.

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