The Sounders went through a light practice today at Starfire Sports Stadium. And from whatever you can tell from this distance, they seem to be seeing the light at the end of the U.S. Open Cup tunnel ... and seem to be thinking it might be the first trophy for their case.
The Sounders are now three wins into the cup -- counting the qualifying games -- and also exactly three wins from the title. Game four comes at 7 p.m. Tuesday, when Kansas City visits Starfire.
From what we heard, it seems likely that the Sounders will start fewer reserves than they have in previous Cup games -- partly because they're increasingly serious about winning it, but also partly because a lot of the starters haven't played since June 28 and Sigi Schmid seems to think keeping them fresh has become more important than keeping them rested.
That's one reason Kasey Keller is expected to be in goal tomorrow. And Steve Zakuani also seems certain to return to action after sitting out with an ankle injury.
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A couple of quotes from this morning:
Schmid on the timing:
"Obviously it's a little different than most Open Cup games from the standpoint that we don't have a league game before it going in. But sometimes it's like that gets over-rated too, because once you're in the rhythm of playing, you're sort of in the rhythm of playing. And like I said the other time we played on a Wednesday guys would much rather play a game than train. From that standpoint hopefully it'll come to be a plus for us in the second half because we didn't play. It changes our lineup a little bit because we didn't play. We want to get guys back in the rhythm. So we hope it's a plus for us, but sometimes I think it gets more attention than it deserves."
Zakuani on the team's attitude:
"We've done well. I think we're taking it seriously. We went to Portland and played a very good team against a very tough crowd and won the game. So we don't want to waste tomorrow night. We want to come here and win the right to play again. We definitely take it seriously. If we keep winning – and we have been winning recently – it just keeps the momentum going. So it's just about winning games."