Sounders Insider

Open Cup mystery game on tap Tuesday night

The practiced at Starfire Sports Stadium this morning for their U.S. Open Cup play-in game there at 7 p.m. Tuesday against Real Salt Lake.

The game is sold out.

However, what the 4,000 or so fans will watch is anybody's guess. Coach Sigi Schmid has said that he's going to mix regulars with reserves, and he didn't add much to that this morning.

"Obviously, we're looking at some guys took some knocks," he said. "We want to make sure that guys are ready who are playing tomorrow. So it'll be a mix of some guys who played on Saturday and some guys who didn't start. But I can't tell you."

My hunch is he could, but then, of course, he'd have to kill us. However, he did give some indication of his thought process:

"You want to win the game," he said. "You got 24 players on your roster. You got 24 professionals, and they all should be able to play. So I'm confident that they can step out on play. And the thing that you always want from a team is you want a team to be able to, or an individual player, let me say it that way, an individual player to be able to say 'I deserve to play because of what I'm doing.' Not 'I deserve to play because the other guy is not playing well', or 'I deserve to play because he had a bad game.' It's got to be 'I deserve to play because I'm playing well.' And that's where it's at. So guys have a chance to make that statement, 'hey, look at me, I'm playing well. I deserve another go.' And for some it'll be that first opportunity, and for others it will be a repeated opportunity."

"The Open Cup is important. Obviously in the history of the Sounders it's been an important tournament as well, and when you look at the franchise when it was in USL and so forth. It's such a old tournament that I played in it, so it's been around for a while. It's important. Any time you're in a competition you want to win that competition. But it doesn't have its own portion of the schedule, so it fits in midweek games. Just if this was a midweek league game, we'd have to look at shifting our lineup a little bit, seeing who's healthy who's not healthy. And that's what we got to look at early on here."

Meanwhile, RSL seems to be matching Schmid silence for silence.

"There's probably as much mystery with theirs," Schmid said. "I'm sure there are some guys who didn't travel for them, who normally play for them. And they're probably doing the same. They're evaluating to see who is banged up, who isn't banged up, who's fitness wise is good and could go another game. So it really becomes the same."

Because this is Cup play, there are some rules changes.

The teams are restricted to only five foreign players.

Teams are allowed four substitutions instead of three.

And because a result is demanded, a tied game will go into overtime and then to penalty kicks.

The Sounders haven't yet had a penalty kick in their history, but they were practicing them at the end of practice today.

I asked Schmid about his philosophy on them.

"PKs is like rolling the dice when you go to penalty kicks," he said. "So it's not something that you want to go to. But you have an idea. It's more than just the ability to hit a penalty kick. It's who is going to do well in practice. A lot of guys can score at practice, and some guys can't score when it comes time for a game. So it's who's on the field. It's who does well under pressure. Generally, I don't let it effect my substitutions until very late. Maybe if you're into second overtime, you haven't used all of your subs, then maybe you're saying 'let's put this guy in, he might be a little better in penalty kicks than the other guy.' But in general, you got to play the game, and you got to coach to the game."