- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 3, 2009

After all the bickering between the teams leading up to the game - who should host the event, who could draw the most fans - visiting Seattle Sounders FC got the final say on the field of play.

The expansion Sounders finished off D.C. United 2-1 to claim the U.S. Open Cup title from the defending champion before 17,329 fans Wednesday night at RFK Stadium.

Fredy Montero and Roger Levesque scored Seattle’s goals. Clyde Simms got a late goal for United, but a meltdown by goalie Josh Wicks left the home team a man down for the last 30 minutes.

Wicks played the hero and the villain. He kept United in the game with a number of key saves but was thrown out for attacking Montero moments after the forward scored Seattle’s first goal. In United’s previous game, Wicks nearly came to blows with teammate Marc Burch.

“A player doesn’t come before the team,” coach Tom Soehn said. “[Wicks] has to be smarter than that. Anytime you are short-handed, you are setting yourself up not to be successful.”

Added Wicks: “I made a mistake. It cost our team a player and the game eventually.”

United’s pregame media blitz made an impact, and the crowd was twice the size that saw United win the final last year.

United started with forwards Jaime Moreno and Luciano Emilio leading a 3-5-2 formation. Chris Pontius got the start over Santino Quaranta on the right flank. Seattle was missing its two key central defenders, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (suspension) and Tyrone Marshall (injury).

Pontius had an early chance to give United the lead in the fifth minute, but his shot went across the front of the Seattle goal. Five minutes later, Seattle had an even better opportunity to score, but Wicks instinctively positioned himself well to stop Montero’s close-range effort.

It was end-to-end soccer, and Wicks again came up big to stop Freddie Ljungberg on a breakaway. Just before the break, Wicks pulled off another big save, reacting quickly to stop Montero’s header.

United made a change after the interval, replacing Fred with Quaranta.

The deadlock finally was broken on a Seattle breakaway in the 67th minute. Winger Steve Zakuani headed the ball into the path of Ljungberg, who was stopped on a great save by Wicks. But the United keeper could not hold on to the ball, and Montero hit home the rebound. Wicks then walked toward Montero, who was lying on the ground, and stomped on the striker with both feet. Wicks was red-carded and had to be forced off the field by officials.

Milos Kocic replaced Wicks, forcing United to pull off Christian Gomez and play the rest of the contest a man down.

“I’m upset that he got a red card. From a couple of accounts, I heard that it was warranted,” captain Ben Olsen said. “If that’s the case, great. Kudos to the referee for doing their job. We have to stay focused and be composed after that, but that wasn’t the story of the game. We were under the gun a lot.”

Seattle made it 2-0 in the 86th minute when Levesque converted a Sebastian Le Toux cross. United answered three minutes later when Simms converted a rebound off Rodney Wallace from Quaranta’s free kick.

“We didn’t take care of the ball enough,” Soehn said. “We kept turning it over in spots, causing major counterattacks. To his credit, Josh kept us in there, and then Josh make a mistake that cost us in the end.”

Notes - Before the game, United announced the signing of goalkeeper Bill Hamid, the first player to sign with the first team from the club’s youth academy system. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Annandale native will not count against United’s 24-man roster this season.

“His size is imposing,” United president Kevin Payne said. “His leadership is unusual.”

Hamid, 18, will not be available for MLS this season but can play in CONCACAF games and exhibition matches. …

A colorful and vocal group of more than 100 flag-waving Seattle fans were stationed in the upper deck and witnessed their team’s first visit to RFK.

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