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Drilling down on, US Open Cup: Seattle 1, at San Jose 0

Jun 27, 2012, 3:13 AM EDT

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SAN FRANCISCO

Man of the Match: When a game’s being played at an 87-year-old municipal venue, you don’t always get the luxury of instant replays. So even after Cordell Cato had given Seattle the lead, it was unclear how he’d done it. Did the ball, shot from a very sharp angle to the right of goal, go through the goalkeeper’s legs? Or did the goalkeeper really give some room between himself and the goal line? When the ball hit the side netting, there was too much surprise to recount the minutia. By the time the crowd had collected itself, San Jose was kicking off after the game’s only goal.

Packaged for takeaway:

  • The U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal gave San Jose a rare opportunity to play in San Francisco. Old Kezar Stadium, located in Golden Gate Park, used to be he home of John Brodie’s San Francisco 49ers and (for one year) the Oakland Raiders. Now, it’s better known as a running track and the site of occasional high profile high school football games.
  • The game also gave San Francisco, a traditionally strong television market for major soccer events, a chance to take in some Major League Soccer action. San Jose and Seattle was the only all-MLS match of the day, and although the Earthquakes’ supporters were expected to travel well, there was going to be enough tickets for curious San Franciscans to see two of the Western Conference’s better teams.
  • In the hours before the game, it looked like San Francisco might have had better things to do. There was no fan presence outside the stadium, and the bars around the grounds were relatively empty. As kickoff approached, Earthquakes fans arrived and filled the saloons, but at kickoff, one official placed the crowd at an estimated 3500-4000 people.
  • Thankfully, that number rose dramatically after kick off. Twenty-five minutes into the game, the crowd appeared to have doubled.
  • By that time, San Jose had an ineffective control on the match. They were playing a side of regulars while Seattle, arriving on one day’s rest, played a second-choice team.
  • Cato’s goal gave Seattle a halftime lead, after which San Jose really took control. Continuously pumping balls into the area, the Earthquakes were able to create a number of scares for goalkeeper Andrew Weber, though he was never called upon to make a huge save.
  • Except for the goal, same could be said for David Bingham. Seattle played well at the back, but going forward, all they had waas Cato on the right, meaning a lot of work for Ike Opara and Justin Morrow. Opara still looks shaky – nowhere near his rookie self. Against an attack he could have handled, he was inconsistent.
  • After Frank Yallop brought on Chris Wondolowski and Steven Lenhart, Seattle went into survival mode. They mounted some good counters but had little sustained possession. Most of their efforts were spent clearing crosses.
  • Three points of officiating controversy had San Jose fans shaking their heads as they left the stadium:
    • Tressor Moreno, who overall had a very bad game (giving the ball away ahead of the only goal), was taking down two yards into the area in the second half. Referee Yader Reyes awarded the foul but outside the area, and while this kind of ham-handed solution is becoming more common, this was a particularly egregious abuse.
    • A late volley off an attempted clearance of a corner seemed to hit a Seattle player’s arm, but Reyes demurred. He was immediately surrounded by four San Jose players pleading the team’s case.
    • After a number of ugly confrontations between the teams, including one that saw Alan Gordon red carded, six minutes of extra time was supposed to be played. Watches and clocks within the press box said the whistle blew less than five minutes into added time.
  • The confrontations got uglier after the final whistle, with Sounder Eddie Johnson having to be restrained while the San Jose players responded to Jason Hernandez Jed Zayner (who did not play) lying on his back, kicking his left leg as if in pain. The teams reacted as if there’d been a physical altercation. The officials were escorted from the field by security, and Seattle stayed on the pitch until all of the San Jose players had gone down the tunnel.
  • The ugliness wasn’t restricted to the field. There was an uncommon amount of profanity-laced chants, particularly from the San Jose supporters’ section. Perhaps this was a show of frustration at the score. Perhaps it was in response to a small but vocal group of Sounder fans who (also periodically engaging in crude chants) regularly out-yelled their more numerous adversaries.
    • I’m not oblivious to the fact that supporters sections regularly show poor judgment with their chants, but Tuesday night’s game was not at Buck Shaw Stadium, where perhaps the citizenry of San Jose may know what to expect in showing up. It was at an alterate venue and was likely to attract a number of semi-neutrals – people likely to have young children. And just like any other major sporting event, the stands feature a number of kids so young that it’s best to assume their parents would want to be able to exercise discretion over the language to which they’re exposed.
    • You can argue that people should know that profanity is going to be chanted at a soccer game, but they don’t. Most people we (as a community) want coming to MLS games are naive to what’s going on. That’s what being a growing league’s about.
    • This is a difficult subject for me because I happen to be very pro-profanity; however, you don’t see me using it in these posts. It’s a matter of respecting the likely views of my readers. There’s a time and place, and while I would like those times and places to be more frequent, I know that ProSoccerTalk isn’t the venue. I also know most adults don’t want me yelling profane words near their children, and I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t want me and 999 of my friends chanting them.
    • Major League Soccer fans are more emotionally tied to their league’s success than any other U.S. sports fan, and as such, they’ve become an extension of the product. That product is not represented well when, during one of the league’s rare appearances in a place like San Francisco, fans are undermining the idea MLS is a family product.
    • Right now, the league and its teams look the other way at this kind of behavior. I presume they don’t want to temper the enthusiasm of their most loyal clients; however, this kind of behavior is not acceptable. Teams should be more proactive about working with the leadership of supporters’ groups to educate membership about acceptable behavior.
  • Despite all the night’s negatives, it was a huge win for Seattle. Winless in seven, the Sounders’ reserves came up bit, keeping Seattle in line for a fourth-straight U.S. Open Cup.
  • They move on to face Chivas USA while Philadelphia will play Sporting KC, with all lower division clubs seen out of the competition on Tuesday.
  1. ndnut - Jun 27, 2012 at 9:55 AM

    I listened on the radio since I gave up on the Quakes “live stream.” it sounded to me like Andrew Weber, Patrick Ianni, and Brad Evans all had good cases for MotM.

    • Richard Farley - Jun 27, 2012 at 10:49 AM

      According to people at the scene, Kezar just didn’t have the bandwidth capabilities to support a reliable stream. :(

      • arbeck - Jun 27, 2012 at 11:47 AM

        Tell that to the Sounders Fan who streamed the game on an iPhone.

        All you would have needed to stream the game was a Verizon LTE dongle.

      • Richard Farley - Jun 27, 2012 at 12:38 PM

        Perhaps tell that to the SJE rep? I’m just relaying a version of what I was told. There was definitely evasive action going on behind the scenes to stabilize the stream. Since I wasn’t watching the stream, I can’t comment on the effects … hopefully successful!

  2. teamperkins11 - Jun 27, 2012 at 10:52 AM

    When I read ProSoccer Talk I expect unbiased reporting. This was a post with a heavily slanted Seattle POV.

    First, I would hardly call this a first choice San Jose team. In fact there were numerous complaints that Yallop, who had stated he was playing to win, was not fielding a competitive team. That of course all changed, at least offensively, when Wondoloski and Lenhart entered the game in the 60th minute. However, a starting lineup that includes Opara, Bingham, Moreno, Baca and Gordon is not the San Jose first 11 at this time. The only reason Salinas is considered first 11 right now is because of the injury sustained by Dawkins against RSL.

    Second, Reports say that is was Zayner that Eddie Johnson punched in the face after approaching the SJ bench and taunting.

    Third, the Seattle fans were more than periodically chanting using “colorful language”.

    From my perspective it was a very dirty match. The Referee should have stepped in to gain control of the match at several different junctures, but instead felt it was okay to let things go and as a result the match ended the way that it did. If the Referee had gained control the players would have toed the line. It really is a shame because it would have been a very intense last 20 minutes even without the cheap shots and retaliation tactics.

    • Richard Farley - Jun 27, 2012 at 11:01 AM

      Fair enough, but a.) never said this was a first choice San Jose team (I specifically tried to avoid using that term), b.) those reports were unconfirmed when I posted this, and c.) I did mention that, above, when pointing out they also use crude chants.

      I was actually concerned that people would think this report slanted to San Jose since I claimed they controlled most of a match they lost and also went out of my way to point out where the referee judged against them three times. Those are usually tacts I avoid, but the refereeing was pretty bad on Tuesday, and I felt it needed to be pointed out.

      In short, I strongly disagree with this unbiased reporting claim. Even if you think the reporting is wrong, that’s different than bias. Way different.

      I did anticipate this kind of blow back from some Quakes fans who might take exception to a.) my profanity remarks, and b.) my note that the Seattle supporters “out-yelled” them. Just goes with the territory, I suppose, though I think a lot of Seattle fans would be surprised to hear somebody accuse me of a pro-SSFC bias.

      • teamperkins11 - Jun 27, 2012 at 11:57 AM

        Thanks for the response.

        There is an interesting dilemma for MLS as it grows and gains greater appeal and you did nail that point, which is how are they going to address the issue of trying to create a family friendly environment and still have supporter groups that operate in a traditional manner. For the record I am not a member of either the Sounders or Earthquakes Supporters groups but I know that they both can use vulgar language and I felt that the article came across as Seattle outyelled San Jose, but only San Jose used profanity.

        I agree that the referee was pretty bad. As I mentioned that game could easily have been controlled if he had made the effort to do so. Players typically retaliate when they feel that deeds on the field are going unrecognized and unpunished. In my mind the referees job is to manage the game and that includes keeping a pulse on the emotions of the players. Clearly there was a great deal of frustration by players on both teams and he did a poor job of addressing those frustrations and allowed them to build to the point where a player from one team felt it was appropriate to taunt the opposing bench and resulted in blows being thrown. There should be repercussions for a referee that allows these things to develop. Not necessarily suspension, but at least training on managing game situations.

      • Richard Farley - Jun 27, 2012 at 12:40 PM

        I can see why you’d think I was trying to brush over Seattle profanity. That’s definitely worth a clarification, since I elected to use a euphemism for their profanity-laced chants (which were less frequent than those from Quakes’ fans, but that was due to the circumstances, I suspect).

        And to be clear: Quakes and Sounders fans aren’t alone in using inappropriate language. This example stood out to me because of the venue/crowd.

      • ajas95 - Jun 28, 2012 at 1:49 AM

        Just a small correction. I believe you criticize the ref for the foul committed at 8:33 in this video. http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/23593591

        The jersey tug happened very obviously outside the box… the SJ player managed to keep balance long enough to fall into the box, but there was never any contact inside the box. Ref made the correct decision– foul outside the box + yellow card. If you were referring to a different foul I apologize.

        However, if that’s the foul you’re describing, it’s a good thing you’re not a ref. :)

      • Richard Farley - Jun 28, 2012 at 11:06 AM

        i’ll try to take a look, but assuming everything you’ve said is correct, thanks for the correction. it’s possible we in the box missed the shirt tug, thus the explanation (above). but this is why new media is so great – a commenter could come and correct the story, and we’re all better for it.

  3. jays944 - Jun 27, 2012 at 11:57 AM

    When talking of the officiating you left out Fernandez being hacked down in the box ten minutes in and instead calling a corner kick. I think the official was scared to give a pk to either team. From what I saw Seattle deserved one early and an argument could have at least been made that the first contact on the Tressor Moreno foul was just outside the box, but probably should have been a pk. From my seat I couldn’t see contact on the handball, not saying it didn’t happen, just couldn’t tell from my angle.

  4. hasfuntraveling - Jun 27, 2012 at 11:58 AM

    This was a culmination of the play in the second half. SJE was trying to get penaties and flopping like a fish on a boat deck. In the last run for FCS EJ got hit in the back and pushed 5 yards. It was plain old dirty play by SJE that cused this. EJ DID NOT puch Zayner if you would have seen it live and seeing it on video the the guy grabs his eye on the other side of his head from where EJ touched him.

    At the end of the night ECS were told to leave out of the West end of the stadium so we would not be in danger. The Sounders stayed on the field and waited for the stands to be cleared and escorted in to the locker room by police. It was not a safe situation for the team or us. It was all caused by the SJE players and coaches by the way they played.

    • teamperkins11 - Jun 27, 2012 at 12:43 PM

      ” EJ DID NOT puch Zayner if you would have seen it live and seeing it on video the the guy grabs his eye on the other side of his head from where EJ touched him.”

      Even by your statement Zayner grabbed the opposite eye that Johnson touched. The operative word being touched. EJ put his hands on a player from the opposing team, enough said. In your mind dirty play caused EJ to go to the SJ bench taunt, then “touch” another player post-match and EJ bears no responsibility in this event. I find it hard to believe that you honestly believe that Seattle players were not the instigators or active participants in one situation in last nights game.

      As for leaving the stadium it is normal to have supporter groups leave out of different gates in the event that something would happen. It is a matter of precaution and security is wise to follow this practice.

  5. ndnut - Jun 27, 2012 at 1:04 PM

    Neither team was in the right from whatI could hear. The Gordan headbutt doesn’t sound great and I have a thought that EJ wasn’t totally right to go out of his way over to the ‘Quakes bench for any reason at all. Honestly I am shocked that Andy Rose, being the young hothead that he is, did not do more than he did standing up for his guy(s).

  6. swansuite - Jun 27, 2012 at 4:06 PM

    Steve, I love you man, but you know better than to bring up game times. The only person in the entire stadium who has the faintest idea of what the “time” is, is the official. No one else. For all you know, the press started their watches three minutes AFTER the end of regulation time. Just sayin’.

    • Richard Farley - Jun 27, 2012 at 4:09 PM

      a.) I’m not Steve, b.) that’s why you ask more than one guy to corroborate what you yourself observe. Three independent people quoted the same time elapsed, unprompted.

      It’s actually pretty easy. When regulation time hits 90:00, you look down at your watch. There’s no stopping or starting involved. When the final whistle goes, you take a second look. Just sayin’.

  7. ndnut - Jun 27, 2012 at 4:25 PM

    However, the first flash of the board showed 4 minutes and then 6 was flashed. That tells me there was miscommunication somewhere and everybody was confused.

    • Richard Farley - Jun 27, 2012 at 4:34 PM

      Perfectly reasonable explanation! This is now the leader in the clubhouse.

      This game’s getting interesting. Can’t help but thing Portugal’s gonna get one.

  8. Glenn - Jun 28, 2012 at 12:37 AM

    I find it interesting that Mr. Farley believes that the league and the front offices of the teams “look the other way” regarding profanity.

    I assure you from first hand experience that both the league and the teams’ front offices exert a fair amount of pressure regarding profanity, particularly during nationally televised matches. Threats of sanctions, ejections, promises to remove supporter privileges, travel bans, and other penalties/punishments/threats aren’t uncommon in the slightest.

    The Fort in New England had several members ejected with some getting arrested after allegedly being told hours before the match that any profanity would be dealt with harshly last season.

    Several Houston supporter groups were issued with travel bans and removal of supporter privileges due to behavior during the MLS Cup Final last season, including profanity.

    The Timbers Army has removed the very common YSA chant from their repertoire at the request of their front office…although it’s taken several seasons for it to percolate down to the non-affiliated fans. Many supporter groups don’t bother with it on goal kicks, as it’s very, very unoriginal, overused, and has largely been adopted by non-affiliated fans.

    The Emerald City Supporters have largely removed the fourth verse of one of their songs (which contains an obscenity) on the repeated request of the Sounders front office, who had threatened sanctions.

    It would be pointless to deny that there is obscenity in football chants and songs. There is, and some of those chants have been around for decades. But it would be incorrect to say that the league and teams aren’t making concerted efforts to minimize or remove it. Whether they are succeeding, or exerting as much force as they should, you might debate.

    I would argue that supporter groups provide a great deal of the passion and atmosphere that teams and the league (as well as their sponsors…) are quick to capitalize upon. I would imagine that there are arguments regularly about how much to pressure the groups to change. I don’t think it’s as simple as “kids should be able to go to soccer matches.” I’d venture to say that it isn’t kids buying all that merch, and it’s not kids buying season tickets.

    It’s also worth pointing out that a quick look at the published song sheets of many supporter groups show that the vast majority of songs contain no obscenities. Having attended over 75 matches over the past three seasons, I’m pretty sure that most of the songs and chants done don’t contain obscenities. Again, the number isn’t zero, of course, and some matches, especiIally close, chippy, important matches like Tuesday’s, you can be sure that you’ll hear more than your fair share of coarse ones. But to make a broad statement like the one above is fairly shallow, in my opinion.

    • Richard Farley - Jun 28, 2012 at 12:44 AM

      Thanks for your response. I do appreciate being called Mr. Farley.

      I stand by everything I wrote, though, including the look the other way line. I don’t think token acts of enforcement can be seen as sufficient given the still widespread use of profanity and the power the clubs have to enforce policy. There have been more times than I can count this season when I’m standing next to unfazed club employees when profanity is used. Not all those employees would have the power to enforce a policy, but they surely would react in some way (even a gasp) if enforcement was a priority. If something was happening at a place I worked for that I knew to be against a company mandate, you can be sure I’d at least stop and take notice.

      If anything, I’ve been very encouraged re: feedback since I posted this piece. Whereas I expected a lot of negative feedback from people wishing to justify or glorify the practice, I’ve been reassured to see many people find the practice comfortable. I’m not sure how people feel about the merch versus profanity angle. Hopefully people don’t think profanity is justified at a certain dollar figure or that a family-friendly product is inconsistent with passionate supporter groups.

      I think it’s good you provided some examples, but having attended games this year at many of the venues you list, I can assure you supporters are not only undeterred, they’re emboldened.

      • Glenn - Jun 28, 2012 at 1:09 AM

        I agree that supporters are undeterred…but is that the FOs not trying? Or the supporters being willing to take whatever punishment comes with it?

        Having said that, more to your point…why should it be a priority? Freedom of speech is still the rule of law, and while they COULD ban people or entire groups for using obscenity, the actual practice of doing so often meets with serious PR, atmosphere, and financial repercussions. Again, I’d point out the battle the Revs have had with the Fort, including match walkouts, protests, and support from various groups around the world. You mention the power to enforce…but what power do teams really have against 15,000 people yelling YSA on an opposing goal kick? Kick them all out? Ban them? If you’re not willing to enforce that, how do you single out some of your most loyal customers and supporters? The ones who buy season tickets year after year, buy $10 beers, and buy the new kit each season?

        Perhaps it’s the belief that because it is sport, it must be a G-rated experience. Perhaps soccer is not ever going to be a G-rated experience. It certainly isnt in many European countries. Perhaps it’s destined to be PG-13. While some people complain about obscenities in movies, most accept that movies of a given rating will have them. Is it just a case of mismanaged expectations?

      • Richard Farley - Jun 28, 2012 at 1:16 AM

        Your last paragraph makes some great points. I personally abhor the idea that U.S. soccer culture would look to the worst qualities of other cultures as justification for unfortunate behavior.

  9. Glenn - Jun 28, 2012 at 1:32 AM

    Interesting that you imply that US Soccer culture has a choice.

    I stand next to English, Italians, Germans, Turks, Mexicans, and fans and supporters of many nationalities of origin at every match, as I suspect you do as well. It’s really only logical that US Soccer culture takes its cues from the inherent culture mixing that occurs uniquely in the US…or at least to the extent that it does.

    US Soccer culture has largely avoided most of the turmoil around soccer that’s occurred in other countries. We’ve yet to tie politics or religion to clubs. There’s minimal to no violence…and never to the extent you see elsewhere. Perhaps compared to the other negative qualities, we’ve managed to take on perhaps the least harmful.

    Overall, I’d say that we’ve absorbed a lot of the lessons of world football, and taken a lot of the best things and left the worst. On this grey area, I’d say it probably could be better…but perhaps where such passion exists, so does that type of language.

    • Richard Farley - Jun 28, 2012 at 1:36 AM

      I think, if you look across the U.S. sporting landscape and see the passion with which other sports are followed, it’s clear we have a choice. In addition, not all soccer cultures are like the one we’re describing in this conversation. Not all soccer cultures embrace negatives, let alone negatives as inherent with passionate support.

      • Glenn - Jun 28, 2012 at 1:47 AM

        We haven’t absorbed our sports culture from other countries in any other sport, with the possible exception of the NHL…and even that was 100 years ago.

        Baseball, basketball, American football…who plays those sports to the extent we do? We invented those sports, and so we are exporters of those sports cultures, and a net importer of soccer sports culture. And no…not all soccer cultures are like European or South American cultures…but I admit I’d be hard pressed to name one that didn’t have supporters singing obscenities at times. Do you have one in mind? I’ve only been to matches in a handful of countries, so obviously my experience is somewhat limited.

        I just can’t put singing obscenities on the same plane as violence or racist/misogynist chants, for example.

      • Richard Farley - Jun 28, 2012 at 11:05 AM

        I definitely wouldn’t put obscenity up there, either. And it reiterate, I’m actually a big fan of swearing. It’s just inappropriate to assume a place like Kezar on Tuesday night is an acceptable venue for this behavior.

        – most countries that have organized sports are now playing basketball in a meaningful way. i don’t now of one that’s wholesale imported U.S. basketball culture.
        – i’m not sure it matters if we imported soccer culture. people have a choice not to be profane.
        – most soccer experiences in this country do not involve profane chants. i’m actually having a hard time thinking of a venue besides MLS stadiums and some NASL crowds where this is even debatable acceptable.
        – look to some emerging soccer cultures for places that have yet to buy into the crude, profane, often illegal, rude, and hooliganistic aspects of the culture. most of these are in asia, but there are a number of places in europe (and africa, so i’ve heard) where you can go to a game and expect people not to be crude anachronisms.

        i’ve enjoyed the discussion, glenn.

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