Sounders in 6th straight semifinal
Seattle Sounders FC won’t only be chasing a chance at U.S. Open Cup history tonight – the club also will be making history.
With the 7 p.m. first kick against Chivas USA at sold-out Starfire Sports Stadium, Seattle will become the first franchise to play in six consecutive Open Cup semifinals. That record includes two appearances when the Sounders were members of the United Soccer Leagues, before the club’s graduation to MLS.
Two Sounders players will have been part of all six: midfielder Roger Levesque and defender Zach Scott.
“I’ve been fortunate to be in some good positions as far as the Open Cup goes, and having some success,” Levesque said. “I’m looking forward to having another opportunity to keep pushing.”
If the Sounders win, they will play the winner of tonight’s Philadelphia-Kansas City match on Aug. 8. That game would give Seattle a chance to become the first club to win four straight Open Cups in the 99-year history of the tournament.
“It’s just a mentality thing,” Scott said. “The thing we’ve stressed all year – and you (reporters) have heard it over and over again – is how we approach every game.
“I think we approach the Open Cup the same way we approach league games, the same way we approach CONCACAF: Every game is a must-win for us. We don’t take anything lightly. We don’t put a second team or a B team or whatever you want to call it out there. We put the team that’s going to be the best team for us, and the team that’s going to get us a victory.”
Sounders coach Sigi Schmid hinted he may have a tougher time of it than Chivas coach Robin Fraser. Schmid has to balance talent and fatigue in assembling his lineup for what will be the Sounders’ fifth game since June 26. Chivas has played twice over that same period.
“Our game total compared to their game total is a big difference, so we have to take that into account,” Schmid said. “We have to take into account who’s sharp right now, who’s healthy. But certainly the object … is to get to the final. We can’t get to the final unless we beat Chivas.”
A win tonight would give the Sounders their shot at an unprecedented fourth consecutive Open Cup trophy.
“We haven’t talked a lot yet about winning four: That’s a game away,” Schmid said. “But we’re talking about getting to the opportunity to get that. But certainly the history: Last year we were able to get three, the first time (since the New York Greek-Americans’ run from 1967-69) for anybody to do that. And to win four is something that hasn’t been accomplished before. All that makes it unique, makes it special. … As a player you get motivated by winning things, by winning prizes, and obviously this is another prize.”
Goalkeeper Michael Gspurning (hip) has been ruled out for tonight. However, Schmid said there is a chance Gspurning could return Sunday, when the Sounders resume MLS play at New York. Gspurning hasn’t played since May 2, but he took part in full training Tuesday. … Sounders FC is looking for a local school, municipality or nonprofit organization to take the temporary grass field being installed at CenturyLink Field for the July 18 friendly against Chelsea FC. Details are available at blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer
CHIVAS USA (5-7-5 MLS) AT SOUNDERS FC (8-5-6 MLS)
7 p.m., Starfire Sports Stadium, Tukwila.
RADIO: 97.3-FM. ONLINE: Streamed at SoundersFC.com
HEAD TO HEAD: Seattle beat Chivas in the 2010 semifinal, 3-1. In MLS, the clubs played to a 1-1 draw on May 26 in Carson, Calif. Seattle visits there again on Aug. 25, while the Goats visit CenturyLink Field on Sept. 8.
NOTES: This is a semifinal match of the 99th U.S. Open Cup, the oldest annual team tournament in the United States. It is open to all amateur and professional clubs affiliated with U.S. Soccer. … The Sounders have won the past three Open Cup titles. No club has won four in a row. … Seattle has never lost in 17 Open Cup matches since joining MLS, outscoring opponents by a combined 39-9. … Seattle advanced with wins over Atlanta, Cal FC and San Jose. The Goats defeated Ventura County, Carolina and Charlotte. … Chivas forward Jose Correa, 19, was named Open Cup player of the quarterfinal round. Also playing for Chivas is former Sounders defender James Riley. … In the other semifinal today, Sporting Kansas City visits Philadelphia at 4:30 p.m. … If the Sounders advance, the final will be held Aug. 8, with Seattle either visiting K.C. or Philadelphia visiting CenturyLink. … Today’s game is sold out.
QUOTABLE: “They don’t give up much. They haven’t scored much, either. The game gets bogged down in midfield at times because of their play. But also they’re a very good passing team and a very good technical team. It’s going to be a tight game as a result of just how they play defensively.” – Sounders coach Sigi Schmid on Chivas.
NEXT: Sounders return to MLS play at 1 p.m. Sunday at New York.
email@example.com 253-597-8808 blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer