Technical director Chris Henderson said today that Sounders FC wants to host its third-round match in the U.S. Open Cup, partly as a nod to fans, but also because the club wants to bring this cup home.
"We'd like to host," he said. "I think being able to play in front of your home crowd (is an advantage). It's something we have a chance to do well in, and we want to give ourselves every chance to be Open Cup champions in year one."
Where the game would be held, and who it would be againt, remain uncertain, Henderson reminded. Although it has been taken almost as a given that Seattle will meet the winner of the second-round game between the Portland Timbers and the Sonoma County Sol. But as you can see from the U.S. Open Cup bracket, the MLS teams have not yet been slotted in their third-round positions. That means it is at least possible that Seattle will not be paired against the Portland-Sonoma winner. However, it seems likely. And if Portland wins, it seems very likely ... likely to the degree that someone would need to have his head examined if Seattle were slotted anywhere else.
Meanwhile, simply wanting to host won't matter if the opponent wants to host more. The home team will be determined by bid.
"You never know what the Portland Timbers would bid or another team that really wants to host it," Henderson said. "It's really kind of a cat-and-mouse game with who's going to bid it."
If Seattle wins the bid, Henderson said the home site -- either Starfire or Qwest -- hasn't been decided and is more a matter for the general manager than the technical director. (Adrian Hanauer wasn't at practice today, so I didn't simply walk over and ask him.) However, Henderson sort of implied that Starfire might remain the appropriate site for this stage of the tournament.
"We want to make sure that we keep the atmosphere the same as it has been for each game," he said, presumably meaning sellouts. "As someone who has played in 20 Open Cup games, maybe more, usually the atmosphere you play in Open Cup is not in the bigger stadiums. And then you work your way into the semis and the finals and now all of a sudden you're close and it becomes bigger."
The Timbers and Sol meet Tuesday in California.