For the first time since 2008, there will be a U.S. Open Cup final tonight, and Seattle Sounders FC won’t part of it.
Instead, D.C. United will meet Real Salt Lake for the cup, in a match at 6 PT tonight (GolTV) at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.
“We were just talking about that,” midfielder Lamar Neagle said today after the Sounders went through a training session instead of the cup final. Yeah, it’s kind of a bitter feeling know that we should be in the final. We usually do well in those kinds of tournaments.”
There’s no doubt about that. The Sounders won the U.S. Open Cup in 2009, 2010 and 2011, and they advanced to the final in 2012 before losing at Kansas City in a game that went down to penalty kicks.
However, the Open Cup draw sent the Sounders across the country to Tampa Bay to open the 2013 tournament, and the Rowdies eliminated Seattle, 1-0.
At the time the Sounders expressed hope that their early elimination from the Open Cup, and their failure to qualify for the 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League would lighten their summer and fall schedules in a way that might pay off about this time of the Major League Soccer season.
However, today coach Sigi Schmid downplayed any such advantages.
“I think we were so used to playing Champions League and all that – we were so used to the rhythm of play, we had enough depth that we could take players in and out – that I think it was something that we were comfortable with,” he said. “Like I always say, players would rather play games than practice. So this means more practice time.”
Finally, Schmid's thoughts on tonight's match:
"It’s a good opportunity obviously for D.C. because they’ve had a very dismal season by their standards. I’m sure they’re not happy about it," he said. "It’s a great opportunity for Salt Lake because they’ve been able to play all their Open Cup games at home and have a chance to wrap it up at home as well and put a trophy into their case. It should be an exciting game."