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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.

Akiem Hicks makes Pro Football Focus Team of the Week after strong game against Dolphins

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USA TODAY

Akiem Hicks makes Pro Football Focus Team of the Week after strong game against Dolphins

The Bears defense was not its usual self in their overtime loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. The pass rush was minimal and tackling looked optional, and Brock Osweiler threw for almost 400 yards.

There was plenty of blame to go around, but a few individual defenders had success while their teammates struggled.

Defensive lineman Akiem Hicks made the Pro Football Focus Team of the Week for Week 6 with a 92.2 overall grade.

He recorded seven tackles that resulted in a defensive “stop,” the most of any defensive lineman according to PFF.

Chicago’s next highest-graded player was cornerback Kyle Fuller (78.2), who intercepted Osweiler twice but also missed two tackles.

Offensively, wide receiver Taylor Gabriel led the way with a 76.9 mark. PFF credited four of his five catches coming against Dolphins cornerback Torry McTyer in coverage.

Meanwhile, outside linebacker Khalil Mack had the lowest-graded game of his career (47.8), while linebacker Danny Trevathan (29.9) and safety Adrian Amos Jr. (47.5) each had their second-worst games.

Some of the Bears’ best players were at their worst in Miami. They’re going to need to get their act together for the New England Patriots on Sunday.

2018-19 NBA Power Rankings: Opening Week edition

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USA TODAY

2018-19 NBA Power Rankings: Opening Week edition

The theme of the 2018-19 NBA season will be: “old faces in new places”. Like a season-long game of the NBA on TNT crew’s “Who he play for?” game, this year will be about fans trying to get used to the idea of LeBron James in purple (I won’t call it ‘Forum Blue’)-and-gold, DeMarcus Cousins being on a championship-contending franchise and Kawhi Leonard being the new face of Toronto.

The Warriors are still the easy favorite to make it four NBA championships in five years, but they will be tested perhaps more than any year before in a loaded Western Conference, where even the lowliest of teams (here’s to you Phoenix and Memphis!) made solid offseason moves geared towards winning games.

Over in the now-LeBron-less East, there is hope amongst at least four-to-five teams that they could actually have a shot to win the conference. The Pacers still have budding superstar Victor Oladipo, the Sixers still have Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, and the Raptors and Bucks made head coaching changes that could lead to deep playoff runs. But with the rest of the Eastern conference being stuck between lottery contention and middle of the pack, expect the half-experienced, half-youthful Celtics to takeover as East juggernaut.

But whether or not your favorite franchise is aiming for a high draft pick or a postseason berth, there is tons to be excited in a 2018-19 NBA season that will surely be an intriguing one. Check out Week 1 of our NBA Power Rankings right here.