SEATTLE – 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 the Seattle Sounders FC repeated as U.S. Open Cup champions with a 2-1 win over the Columbus Crew on Tuesday night.
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.
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 got plenty of help on both goals.
His score in the 38th minute was courtesy of fellow midfielder Nathan Strugis. 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 was mostly the work of Steve Zakuani. Sneaking in from the wing, Zakuani got lost by defender Frankie Hejduk and had a clear header on Fredy Montero's cross. Zakuani's header hit the crossbar as Gruenebaum fell back into the net. Nyassi was unmarked and gave Seattle the lead.
Columbus put one scare into the Sounders in the 85th minute when Robbie Rogers' shot whizzed past Seattle keeper Kasey 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. Last year, Seattle beat D.C. United 2-1 at RFK Stadium to win its first trophy in its inaugural season.
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 and had only a few chances in the first half, but took advantage of the best one. Kevin Burns silenced the 31,311 in attendance — a U.S. Open Cup record — in the 20th minute when he beat Keller on the far post.
Hejduk continually pushed forward on the wing and finally found himself in space behind Seattle defender Tyson Wahl. On a run to the end line, Hejduk passed back to Steven Lenhart just inside the penalty box. With plenty of space to turn, Lenhart touched to Burns and his right-footed shot to the far post easily beat Keller.