As mentioned below, the Sounders will take a rare bus trip Friday – heading up to Vancouver, where they will meet the Whitecaps at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Later this month, the Sounders could take an ever rarer trip -- to the Southeastern United States, starting U.S. Open Cup play in Atlanta.
That one isn’t yet certain. It depends on the result of the Tuesday second-round match between the Atlanta Silverbacks and the Georgia Revolution.
The Silverbacks of the second-division North American Soccer League play two levels above the Revolution, who are members of the National Premier Soccer League. (The NPSL is considered on par with the USL’s Premier Development League, which includes Northwest clubs such as the Pierce County-based Sounders FC U-23s.)
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If the Revolution wins, it will meet Seattle in a May 29 third-round match at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila. If the Silverbacks win, the Sounders go to Atlanta.
Seattle has been spared that kind of travel on the way to winning the three straight U.S. Open Cups, in part due to a process that allowed clubs to bid for the right to host matches. Sounders FC has been aggressive enough in its bids to have played its last seven tournament games at home – including all four matches in the 2011 tournament.
However, U.S. Soccer has scrapped the bidding process for the first four rounds of the 2012 tournament.
“The Open Cup said it’s a coin flip that’s taking place behind some closed doors,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. “We assume that’s the way it is. It’s all up to U.S. Soccer and where they want to take the tournament. I know in the bidding process that they’re had in the past years has probably made the tournament a little more financially lucrative for them than it’s been in the past. And obviously they felt that they wanted to change that – which is fine. … If we go to Atlanta, we go to Atlanta; and if we’re at home, we’re at home. We have to take it as it comes.”
Schmid’s preference for a more public process goes beyond concerns about fairness. He believes the tournament also could benefit from added publicity.
“I would like to see the draw be made a big thing … like it is at the FA Cup in England,” he said. “That’s a very big show, and it’s something that people want to watch. Whether it’s something that would be for TV, I’m not sure. But it’s something definitely that you could put on the U.S. Soccer website, and people would be excited.”