Sanna Nyassi lifts Seattle by Columbus

Updated: October 6, 2010, 2:49 PM ET
Associated Press

SEATTLE -- Fireworks popped from the top of the scoreboard. Confetti fluttered all over the field. And 40-year-old Kasey Keller acted like a dared teenager, flipping over the crossbar and onto the back of the net.

A year after celebrating their first U.S. Open Cup title nearly 3,000 miles away from home, the Seattle Sounders FC thoroughly enjoyed a second straight title before their home fans.

"This is tremendous for our fans to be able to experience this," Keller said.

Sanna Nyassi broke a 1-all tie in the 66th minute cleaning up Steve Zakuani's header with a left-footed shot into an open net -- his second goal of the night -- and Seattle repeated as U.S. Open Cup champions with a 2-1 win over the Columbus Crew on Tuesday night.

Last year, Seattle celebrated before a few hundred fans at RFK Stadium in Washington after a 2-1 victory over D.C. United.

Tuesday night, nearly all of the U.S. Open Cup record 31,311 stuck around as Keller raised the trophy for the second straight year, then paraded around the field with his family and teammates in tow.

"I've stayed dry up until now, so that's good news," Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said, moments before his players burst into the interview room and drenched their coach with champagne.

"I know there are teams out there that say they don't take the Open Cup seriously," Schmid said. "If you're not going to take something seriously, then don't enter it. Just stay away. For us we're in the competition, we're in it to do our best and win it and we've been able to do that."

And Nyassi proved an unlikely star.

It took Nyassi nearly two full seasons to score his first goal in America, getting his first mark last Saturday in a Major League Soccer match against Toronto.

Now he's got three goals in two games.

Nyassi brought Seattle even late in the first half with a right-footed shot that beat Columbus keeper Andy Gruenebaum, who was far off his line. His second goal midway through the second half made Seattle the first back-to-back winners of the Open Cup since the New York Pancyprian-Freedoms won consecutive titles in 1982 and '83.

"I'm glad Sanna didn't make me wait two years for his next goal," Schmid said.

Nyassi, a 21-year-old Gambian midfielder, was one of Seattle's first signings after becoming an expansion Major League Soccer franchise. He became the first player since the creation of the MLS to score more than one goal in an Open Cup final.

And Nyassi's effort against Columbus is sure to make Wednesday's long trip to Africa for a match with his national team feel a little shorter.

"The chances came tonight and I made sure to finish both of them. ... It's a great feeling," Nyassi said. "My confidence keeps growing."

Nyassi's goal in the 38th minute brought Seattle even and was thanks to the effort of midfielder Nathan Sturgis. Tyson Wahl's cross from Nyassi was punched away by Gruenebaum. But Sturgis fought for possession and was able to roll a pass to Nyassi, who caught Gruenebaum 10 yards off his goal line.

Nyassi's second goal came after Zakuani sneaked behind Columbus defender Frankie Hejduk and had a clear header on Fredy Montero's cross. Zakuani's deflection hit the crossbar as Gruenebaum fell back into the net, but Nyassi was unmarked and gave Seattle the lead.

"That second goal came from nowhere," Columbus coach Robert Warzycha said.

Columbus put one scare into the Sounders in the 85th minute when Robbie Rogers' shot whizzed past Keller but hit the upper corner of the goal and ricocheted away. That was the Crew's last chance as Seattle got to lift the Open Cup trophy, which sat on a small table next to the field all night, for the second straight year.

The Sounders are 11-1-3 against domestic competition over the past three months.

Columbus was trying to win its second U.S. Open Cup title. The Crew silenced the huge home crowd in the 20th minute on Kevin Burns' goal off a pass from Steven Lenhart. Burns was clear in the box and easily beat Keller to the far post.

But that was Columbus' only shot on goal and the Crew were forced to stay on the field afterward receiving their second-place medals while Seattle's celebration was ongoing.

"They're playing at home, they have a lot of support here obviously. They're a good team," Burns said. "That's just the way it goes."


Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press