Winners of the U.S. Open Cup three years in a row, the Sounders seek to be the first winner of four consecutive in the event’s 99-year history.
The Sounders, who play the Columbus Crew Wednesday at CenturyLink Field (7 p.m.), begin their defense of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup next week against an opponent determined Tuesday when the Atlanta Silverbacks and Georgia Revolution, both of the National Premier Soccer League, meet at RYSA Soccerplex in Conyers, GA.
If Georgia wins, Seattle will host the Revolution at Starfire Sports Stadium in Tukwila next Tuesday. If Atlanta advances, Seattle will visit the Silverbacks at Atlanta Silverbacks Park at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday PT.
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 are participating in the tournament for the first time.
The Division I field includes 16 MLS teams, double the representation from the past five years. This year’s tournament includes a random selection process for determining home teams from the first round through the quarterfinals among clubs that have applied to host.
The process, conducted by coin flip, gives participating teams with venues meeting tournament standards an equal chance at hosting their possible opponent for these rounds.
The Sounders will attempt to become the first club to win four consecutive Cup championships. Last year, the Sounders became the first club in 42 years and fourth overall to win the Open Cup three consecutive years.
Sounders FC defeated D.C. United in the 2009 final, the Columbus Crew in the 2010 final, and the Chicago Fire in the 2011 final in front of a Cup-record crowd of 35,615 at qCenturyLink Field.
uarterfinals will take place June 26, the semifinals July 10, and the final Aug. 7 or 8.
SOUNDERS U.S. OPEN CUP HISTORY
2009: The title run included Roger Levesque’s first-minute goal at Portland followed by late goals from Nate Jaqua and Stephen King to advance past Houston in extra time, and win in the final at D.C. United 2-1.
2010: Jaqua netted five goals in four games to earn Player of the Tournament honors, and Sanna Nyassi finished off the championship run with a brace in the final against the Columbus Crew, giving Seattle a 2-1 victory.
2011: Fredy Montero, who stole the show, netting three game-winners in the final three matches, and Osvaldo Alonso delivered a wonderfully crafted goal in stoppage time in the final against Chicago.
Overall, Seattle has won 13 games with one draw, outscoring opponents 28-8.
A Seattle team has advanced to the Open Cup semifinals in each of the past five years. In addition to the Sounders’ victories from 2009-11, the USL-1 Sounders reached that stage in 2007 (against FC Dallas) and 2008 (Charleston).
Prior to the 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.