Cubs

Fire fall to Sounders in U.S. Open Cup final

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Fire fall to Sounders in U.S. Open Cup final

Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2011
Posted: 11:30 p.m.

WATCH: Klopas talks after 2-0 loss to Seattle

SEATTLE (AP)Kasey Keller burst through the door first, dumping a bottle of champagne over the head of coach Sigi Schmid.

James Riley and Fredy Montero followed seconds later to douse Schmid appropriately one bottle of bubbly for each of the three U.S. Open Cup titles the Seattle Sounders FC now owns.

Montero collected a loose ball off a corner kick scramble and slid it past Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson in the 78th minute, Osvaldo Alonso scored on a breakaway in the final seconds, 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 35,615the largest ever for any game in the competitionMontero was in the perfect position to clean up after Johnson made a diving save on Jeff Parkes header off a corner kick.

Alonso then started the wild celebration when he dribbled around Johnson and scored in the final seconds of stoppage time.

Moments later, the entire Sounders squad was on stage in the middle of the bedlam with confetti floating in the air and fireworks crackling. Up there was injured midfielder Steve Zakuani, who suffered a gruesome broken ankle early in the season, yet was one of the first to be handed the trophy.

Keller held off from flipping into the goal netting as he did last year when Seattle beat Columbus to win its second title, but team co-owner Drew Carey did manage a headfirst slide on the confetti covered turf.

Despite still being a three-year old franchise, the Sounders have learned how to celebrate momentous victories, especially in the Open Cup.

To win three in a row is something very special, very unique, Schmid said. It hasnt been done in a long time. Like we said, every time we enter a competition we want to win it.

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. Its 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 years CCL.

While Seattle dominated the competition in recent seasons, Chicago wasnt 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.

He was stuck watching the celebration on Tuesday night as Chicago fell to 4-2 all-time in Open Cup finals.

We came into game knowing it would be a battle, Johnson said. We fought hard for the first 45 and kept it close. Second half they got a bit of fortune on their side.

Montero goal was his second in a cup final, going along with one he scored in 2009 when Seattle claimed its first title with a 2-1 win over D.C. United in Washington. Montero also scored the only goal in Seattles semifinal victory over Dallas in late August.

This time, he found himself alone in front of an open net after Johnson made an excellent diving save of Parkes header.

We kept trying and trying again until that first goal arrived, Montero said through an interpreter.

It was close to being even more of a rout for the Sounders as both Montero and Mike Fucito had shots bounce off posts and stay out of the net.

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

We didnt have opportunities like them, Chicagos Pavel Pardo said. Thats difficult to win when you dont have the ball and difficult when you dont have the opportunity to score.

Tuesdays 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.

But Keller was quick to point out that Seattle doesnt want the Open Cup to be the only highlight of this season, with the MLS playoffs less than a month away.

Were not done yet. We still have one more very, very important competition left, Keller said.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Joe Maddon on MLB's absurd home run rate: 'The wind’s being broken here. It’s really weird'

Joe Maddon on MLB's absurd home run rate: 'The wind’s being broken here. It’s really weird'

Cubs manager Joe Maddon usually isn’t one for conspiracy theories, but even he’s wondering what’s going on. MLB teams are hitting home runs at an absurd rate, including the Cubs, who are hitting them at a historic rate for the franchise’s standards.

Entering Saturday, here’s where MLB teams stand in average home run rate and total home runs in 2019 compared to recent seasons:

2017: 1.26/game, 6,105 total
2018: 1.15/game, 5,585 total
2019: 1.33/game, 2,009 total

While the MLB season is just over 30 percent finished, teams are on pace to hit a combined 6,483 long balls in 2019. This would absolutely obliterate the 2017 total, which, like the 1.33 home runs per game figure, would be an MLB record.

The Cubs are no exception to this home run wave. Including Saturday (game No. 50 of the season), the team has hit 80 home runs (and counting) in 2019. Only the 2000 Cubs (83) hit more home runs in their first 50 games in franchise history.

“We’re having home runs hit here into some firm breezes, which has not happened before,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said to reporters before Saturday’s game against the Reds. “That’s the thing that stands out to me. It’s been crazy.

“Even [Kyle] Schwarber’s home run, I know that was hit well, but dang, that wind was blowing pretty firmly across at that point.”

Schwarber absolutely crushed his home run yesterday, a 449-foot blast that needed little help getting into the bleachers. However, Maddon has a valid point regarding home runs being hit despite the wind. Entering Saturday, 54 total home runs have been hit at Wrigley Field this season, 29 of which have come with the wind blowing in.

By the eighth inning of Saturday’s game, the Cubs and Reds had hit a combined six home runs, one of which appeared to be a routine fly ball hit by Jason Heyward that wound up in the left field basket thanks to the wind. At the same time, Yasiel Puig hit one 416 feet onto Waveland Ave. that had a 109 mph exit velocity. The wind blowing out at Wrigley Field helps, but it isn’t everything.

MLB players have questioned time and time again if baseballs are “juiced,” including Cubs starting pitcher Jon Lester. And while Maddon didn’t flat out say that he thinks the baseballs are juiced, he notices a difference in how they're flying off the bat.

“I don’t know, I’m normally not into the subplot component of all of this and the conspiracy theorists, but I’m telling you right now, it’s jumping,” he said. “It’s absolutely jumping.

“Nobody is ever going to admit to it. The wind’s being broken here. It’s really weird.”

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97 Days to Kickoff: Elmwood Park

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

97 Days to Kickoff: Elmwood Park

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Aug. 5, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 30.

School: Elmwood Park

Head coach: Dylan Mack

Assistant coaches: Gabe Ostrander, Mario Fiorito, Chad Nardi, Tony Sylvester, Eric Lewis and Dwayne French

How they fared in 2018: 8-3 (4-1 Metro Suburban Red). Elmwood Park made the Class 4A state playoff field and beat Back of the Yards. In the second round, they lost to Evergreen Park.

2019 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 30 vs St. Joseph

Sept. 6 vs Lisle

Sept. 13 @ Ridgewood

Sept. 20 vs St. Edward

Sept. 27 vs Westmont

Oct. 4 @ Christ the King

Oct. 11 vs Guerin Prep

Oct. 18 @ Chicago Christian

Oct. 25 @ Bishop McNamara

Biggest storyline: Last year, the Tigers had their best season on the gridiron since 1985’s 12-1 state semifinal team. What will this team do for an encore? Can they go deeper into the state playoffs?

Names to watch this season: Senior quarterback Mike Stranski and wide receiver Keon Grimes

Biggest holes to fill: The Tigers will need to find some new faces to bolster the defensive line and at the linebacker positions.

EDGY's Early Take: It was a banner year in 2018, as Elmwood Park advanced to the their playoffs in consecutive years for the first time in school history. Coach Dylan Mack’s program has some momentum will have a very good chance to make it three state playoff appearances in a row later this fall.