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The quest to become the first club to win four successive Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup championships begins this Wednesday as Seattle Sounders FC hosts the Atlanta Silverbacks in a third-round match at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila, Wash. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. PT.
A live webcast will be available on SoundersFC.com with Ross Fletcher calling the action.
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Sounders FC (7-3-3, 24 points) concluded a busy month of MLS play last weekend with its second straight comeback road draw. David Estrada netted his team-leading fifth goal of the season, and Fredy Montero and Alex Caskey each registered their team-high third assists. Montero now has four goals and three assists in his past seven outings.
With the draw, Seattle improved to 2-0-3 on the road this season and holds the league's longest road unbeaten streak at 10 games (7-0-3), two shy of tying the all-time MLS record. Sounders FC will play six of its next eight MLS matches away from home.
Seattle will look to extend another unbeaten streak on Wednesday as the club begins its Open Cup title defense. Last season, Sounders FC became the first MLS side, and first team in 42 years, to win three consecutive titles.The third-round fixture features a matchup with the Atlanta Silverbacks of the North American Soccer League. Atlanta is still searching for its first league win of the season after going 0-5-4 through its first nine matches. The club earned a 1-1 draw against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers on Saturday, and will return to league play with a visit to FC Edmonton next Sunday.
Pending the results in Wednesday's Open Cup matches, Sounders FC could visit the Portland Timbers or host Cal FC in the fourth-round next Tuesday, June 5.
Sounders FC has a three-week break from league play as the next match is on June 16 at Montreal. Seattle will host the Vancouver Whitecaps FC in an MLS Reserve League game on Friday at Starfire Stadium.
Tickets to home MLS matches are available through www.SoundersFC.com, all Ticketmaster Outlets, CenturyLink Field Box Office or by calling 877-MLS-GOAL.
Going for HistorySince their inception in 2009, Sounders FC have sought to make history, both on the pitch and in the stands. The crowds have filled the stands for 58 consecutive sellouts, establishing season records for average attendance in each of the first three years. On the pitch, the Rave Green have proven the most successful expansion side since 1998, qualifying to the playoffs each season and winning three Open Cup titles.
Sounders FC will go for history again this season as the club attempts to become the first team in the tournament's 99-year history to win three successive Open Cup championships. In 2011 Seattle became the first club in 42 years and fourth altogether to win the Open Cup three consecutive years. Historically, MLS teams have dominated the Open Cup since beginning their involvement in 1996, winning 15 of the last 16 championships, and the only exception was second-tier Rochester's triumph 1999.
A Look Back at Championship RunsThe past three years have supplied countless memories for the Sounders FC faithful, and perhaps the greatest times have been had in the Open Cup tournament. Overall, Seattle has won 13 games with a lone draw in 2010 (advancing past Portland in the penalty shootout, 4-3), and has outscored its opponents 28-8.
2009 U.S. Open Cup4/28/09RSL W 4-1 SEA: Le Toux (24, 55), Nyassi (26), King (53); RSL: Johnson (32)5/26/09COL W 1-0 SEA: Forrest (61)7/01/09at POR W 2-1 SEA: Levesque (1), King 27; POR: Keita (43)7/07/09KC W 1-0 SEA: Le Toux (89)7/21/09HOU W 2-1 SEA: Jaqua (89), King (94); HOU: Akinbiyi (32)9/02/09at DC W 2-1 SEA: Montero (67), Levesque (86); DC: Simms (89)
2010 U.S. Open Cup6/30/10at POR D 1-1 (4-3) SEA: Jaqua (13); POR: Dike (38)7/07/10LA W 2-0 SEA: Jaqua (50, 62)9/01/10CHV W 3-1 SEA: Jaqua (10, 92+), Montero (58); CHV: Padilla (68)10/5/10CLB W 2-1 SEA: Nyassi (38, 66); CLB: Burns (24)
2011 U.S. Open Cup6/28/11KIT W 2-1 SEA: Fucito (39, 62); KIT: Besagno (71)7/13/11LA W 3-1 SEA: Jaqua (3), Montero (25), Neagle (74); LA: Cristman (40)8/30/11DAL W 1-0 SEA: Montero (40)10/4/11CHI W 2-0 SEA: Montero (78), Alonso (96+)
Open Cup History in SeattleA Seattle team has advanced to the Open Cup semifinals each of the last five years. Sounders FC won the title in 2009, 2010 and 2011. The USL-1 Sounders reached that stage in both 2007 (against FC Dallas) and 2008 (Charleston). Prior to the Sounders FC victory over D.C. United in 2009, the only Seattle club to qualify for an Open Cup final was the amateur Mitre Eagles in 1987. The Eagles fell to Club Espana of Washington, D.C., on penalties following a 0-0 draw. While the NASL Sounders did not participate in the Open Cup, the A-League Sounders competed on an annual basis, beginning in 1995. They lost to El Paso in the semifinals that season, and also advanced to the final four in 1996.
Cup NotesIf any U.S. Open Cup game is tied at the end of regulation, a 30-minute extra time period (consisting of two 15-minute halves) shall be played in its entirety. If the score is still tied at the end of the 30-minute extra time period, the game shall be decided by a penalty kick tiebreaker. Teams are limited to five foreign players on the 18-player match roster and only one assist is counted in the official records.
The 99th edition of the U.S. Open Cup includes a 64-team field, which represents the largest pool in the modern era (1995-present). All Division I, II and III professional clubs participated in the tournament proper for the first time ever. The Division I field includes all 16 U.S.-based MLS teams, which is double the representation from the past five years.
The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, the U.S. Soccer Federation's National Championship, is an annual competition open to all amateur and professional soccer teams affiliated with U.S. Soccer. It is the oldest annual team tournament in U.S. sports history and among the oldest soccer tournaments of its type in the world.
The quarterfinals are set for June 26, the semifinals for July 10, and the final for August 7 or 8.
About AtlantaThe Silverbacks are members of the North American Soccer League - the second-tier of American soccer. The Atlanta side defeated the Georgia Revolution (NPSL), 1-0, last Tuesday in Conyers, Ga.
Tacoma-native and University of Washington graduate Raphael Cox scored the winner in the second-round match. The midfielder played for the Tacoma Tide in 2007-08 and played six games in 2009 for the MLS Cup Champion Real Salt Lake team. Cox's younger brother, Jamael, plays for the Sounders U23 team. Midfielder Ciaran O'Brien is a Federal Way native who played collegiately for San Diego and UCSB before signing a Generation adidas contract in MLS in 2008. He was drafted by the Colorado Rapids and loaned to the USL Sounders in 2008. He signed with the Silverbacks in 2011.
Others with MLS experience include midfielder Nico Colaluca (Colorado Rapids, 2007-2009; New England Revolution, 2009-2010), defender Jose Burciaga, Jr. (Kansas City Wizards, 2001-2007; Colorado Rapids, 2008) and midfielder Tony McManus (Chicago Fire, 2004; FC Dallas, 2005). Burciaga was an MLS Best XI defender in 2006 and was the MLS Humanitarian of the Year in 2008. Forward Reinaldo Navia has 10 goals in 40 appearances for Chile from 1999-2007. He leads the league with five goals this season. Midfielder/defender Danilo Turcios has 85 caps and seven goals for Honduras from 1999-2010. He is in his first season in the NASL, too.
Head Coach Alex Pineda Chacon was the 2001 MLS MVP with the Miami Fusion where he scored 19 goals in 25 matches on a team that also featured Sounders FC technical director Chris Henderson. He would only play three seasons in MLS, though, including one with Sigi Schmid's LA Galaxy in 2003. He is in his second season at the helm of the Silverbacks after four years as an assistant coach.