The Sounders face their first collision of league and cup play over the next several days as they face San Jose on Saturday in a regular season game at Qwest (sold out) and then meet Real Salt Lake Tuesday in a play-in game for the U.S. Open Cup at Starfire (tickets remain).
Asked today how one game might affect the other, Sigi Schmid kept to the time-tested coaches philosophy of taking them one game at a time.
"We're thinking about Saturday, and after Saturday we'll worry about Tuesday," he said. "The Open Cup competition is important to us as well, but right now our focus is on league. I know it's a cliché – one game at a time – but you need to focus on what is at hand. We have some thoughts in the back of our minds, but nothing that affects Saturday and what we're going to do."
The vibe I'm getting from the club seems to be that a familiar starting lineup will take the field Saturday, with Kasey Keller back in goal. And then the lineup will turover a bit to the reserves on Tuesday, perhaps with Chris Eylander in goal. However, general manager Adrian Hanauer said if it plays out that way, it shouldn't be taken as the Sounders' blowing off the Open Cup, in a way that some MLS sides seemed to in past years when they played the USL Sounders.
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"Organizationally, we want to win every game we play -- we want to win every time we step out on the field," Hanauer said. "If we happen to play some guys who aren't necessarily starters, it doesn't mean that we don't want to win the game and we're not trying to win equally hard to win the game. At the same time, we've got multiple competitions that we have to balance and sometimes if you don't play the starters, it doesn't mean that you're trying less to win. It means that you're trying to keep their bodies healthy for future games, maybe even future Open Cup games."