Copa America Centenario has dominated the Puget Sound soccer scene this month, but on Wednesday it will make way for an even older tournament: the U.S. Open Cup.
The club championship of U.S. Soccer began in 1914, two years before Copa America. Two teams — Bethlehem Steel and Maccabi Los Angeles — have won five Open Cups. And on Wednesday, Seattle Sounders FC will begin its attempt to join them. The four-time champion Sounders will meet the Kitsap Pumas at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Starfire Sports Stadium.
The Sounders play in Major League Soccer, and the Bremerton-based Pumas are three rungs down in the Premier Development League.
“This is also the beauty of the Open Cup, where you have matches like this,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. “It isn’t always just the top teams against each other. It’s part of the enchantment of the tournament. But for us, it’s a game that we have to be careful about. We can’t be overconfident.”
The Sounders and other U.S.-based MLS teams enter the tournament in this fourth round. Kitsap entered in the second and advanced by beating the Pierce County-based Sounders U-23 and the USL Sacramento Republic.
“It’s a little bit of a David-versus-Goliath type of story,” Schmid said. “They’re a local club. They’re going to put everything out on the table, they’re going to play with tremendous energy — we know that. That’s what they did in Sacramento, and they came away with a result.”
The Sounders have been off since their June 1 league win at D.C. United, and they return to league play Sunday at the New York Red Bulls.
Schmid will not be with his team Wednesday, as he will serve the one-game suspension assessed after the 2015 Open Cup loss to the Portland Timbers that included multiple red cards. Schmid was suspended for leaving the bench early and for comments made afterward.
“Last year was very unique and still an experience that sits pretty deep,” he said. “I know our team’s unhappy about it, and we’re not happy about some of the things that we did in that game. But now it’s important for us to get focused on Open Cup again because we have been successful in the past, and it’s also a preparation for our MLS games, so I think it’s important on both fronts.”
SEATTLE SOUNDERS VS. KITSAP PUMAS
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Starfire Sports Stadium, Tukwila.
Online stream: SoundersFC.com.
Head to head: Seattle won the only previous meeting, 2-1, in the third round of the 2011 Open Cup.
Notes: The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is the club championship of amateur and professional teams in the United States. The tournament dates to 1914, making it the oldest soccer cup in the country and one of the oldest in the world. … This is a single-elimination tournament. If the game is tied at the end of regulation, there will be 30 minutes of added time. If the tie remains, the winner will be determined by penalty kicks. … Sounders first assistant Brian Schmetzer will coach this match while Sigi Schmid serves a one-game suspension from last season. Brad Evans also is out due to a red card that carries over from last season. Clint Dempsey is suspended, but also away with the U.S. national team. … The Pumas are the last PDL team surviving in this tournament. In league play, their goals leader is Mike Ramos, their assists leader is Jesus Sanchez.
Quote: “We’ll use them the same way we would for an Open Cup game in this round, depending on the opponent and everything.” — Schmid on whether the MLS break will affect his team’s Open Cup lineup.
Next: The winner goes on to the fifth round against an opponent to be determined by draw Thursday. The loser is eliminated. Kitsap returns to PDL play Friday vs. Sounders U-23 in Sumner. Seattle returns to its Major League Soccer regular season Sunday at the New York Red Bulls.