Rather than fly to Atlanta, Sounders FC bought hosting rights to the match against the Silverbacks of the North American Soccer League.
MATCH: Atlanta Silverbacks (North American Soccer League) at Seattle Sounders FC (Major League Soccer). TYPE: Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. WHEN: Wednesday, 7 p.m., Starfire Sports Stadium, Tukwila. MEETING: 1st. TV: Soundersfc.com. RADIO: 97.3 KIRO FM; SPANISH: La Gran D 99.3 FM.
The Sounders begin defense of their Open Cup Wednesday with a 7 p.m. match against the Atlanta Silverbacks of the North American Soccer League (second tier of pro soccer in America) at Starfire. The Sounders are seeking an unprecedented fourth consecutive Cup.
This third-round match was originally scheduled to be played in Atlanta, but the Sounders purchased “hosting rights,” according to club owner/GM Adrian Hanauer, in order to prevent “wear and tear” on the team.
“It definitely helps out a lot,” said defender Jeff Parke. “We could be in Atlanta right now. That’s another 5 1/2-hour flight, more hotels, more time away. It’s good the team did that for us and we want to reward them with a good performance.”
Wednesday’s match will not be televised, but Ross Fletcher will provide a live webcast on soundersfc.com.
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). Almost 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.
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 CenturyLink Field. With that trifecta, the Sounders became the first club in 42 years to win three consecutive Cups.
Seattle has hosted 10 of its 14 Open Cup matches, including the past seven.
Quarterfinals are June 26, the semifinals July 10, and the final Aug. 7 or 8. Pending the results in Wednesday’s Open Cup matches, Sounders FC could visit the Portland Timbers or host Cal FC in the fourth round June 5.
Atlanta (0=5-4) is still searching for its first NASL win this season. The club earned a 1-1 draw against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers last Saturday, and will return to league play with a visit to FC Edmonton Sunday.
Raphael Cox is one of the main Atlanta players to watch. A Tacoma native, Cox played at Highline Community College (2005) and the University of Washington (2006-08) before turning pro. He played for the Colorado Rapids U23 team in 2007, for the Tacoma Tide in 2007-08, for Real Salt Lake (MLS) in 2009 and for the Tacoma Tide again in 2010 before joining the Silverbacks in 2011.
The Silverbacks also feature former USL Sounder and Federal Way native Ciaran OBrien. The 2006 Washington State Gatorade Player of the Year has a team-high three assists, good for second in his league.
Seattle has used the U.S. Open Cup as a path to the CONCACAF Champions League tournament the past three seasons, securing one of the four U.S. seeds in the international event. Sounders FC advanced to the quarterfinals in 2011, and has already qualified for the 2012-13 tournament by winning the last year’s Open Cup.
SERIES: The MLS Sounders and Silverbacks have never met. However, in 2007, the Silverbacks and USL First Division Sounders met at Starfire with the league championship on the line. Seattle won 4-0.
LAST MATCH (Sounders, May 26): David Estrada scored his fifth goal of the season as Sounders FC and Chivas USA played to a 1-1 draw at the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA. Fredy Montero and Alex Caskey assisted on the equalizer after Seattle had surrendered a Chivas goal three minutes earlier. Sounders FC (7-3-3, 24 points) extended its road unbeaten streak to 10 games (7-0-3), two shy of tying the MLS record.
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.
SOUNDERS STATS/ NOTES
|Starts||Montero 12, Estrada 12, Alonso 11, Parke 10|
|Goals||Estrada 5, Montero 4, Johnson 3, Rosales 1, Evans 1, Scott 1|
|Assists||Montero 3, Caskey 3, Fernandez 2, Rosales 2|
|Shots||Montero 65, Estrada 23, Johnson 21, Alonso 10, Evans 10|
|Shots On Goal||Montero 23, Estrada 10, Johnson 4, Evans 4, Alonso 3|
|Fouls Caused||Montero 25, Alonso 18, Johnson 15, Scott 12, Parke 10|
|Fouls Suffered||Montero 34, Alonso 20, Fernandez 13, 2 with 12|
|Offsides||Johnson 12, Montero 6, Estrada 6, Fernandez 1|
|Corner Kicks||Rosales 23, Fernandez 16, Montero 10, Caskey 9|
|Cautions||Montero 3, Johnson 3, Alonso 3, Scott 2|
COACHES: Sigi Schmid became first head coach of Seattle Sounders FC Dec. 16, 2008, and is in his fourth year. Born in Tübingen, Germany, Schmid relocated with his family to the U.S. in 1956, and to Torrance, CA., in 1962. He was a four-year starter at UCLA (1972-75) and graduated with a B.S. degree in economics in 1976.
Schmid later earned a M.A. in business administration from Southern California. A certified public accountant, Schmid coached the Los Angeles Galaxy from 1999 through 2004, winning four major competitions: 2002 MLS Cup, 2002 MLS Supporters Shield, 2001 U.S. Open Cup and the 2001 CONCACAF Champions Cup. He coached the Columbus Crew from 2006-08, winning the MLS Cup in his final season.
In 2009, under Schmid’s direction, the Sounders became the first expansion team to reach the MLS playoffs since the 1998 Chicago Fire. The Sounders also won the U.S. Open Cup in Schmid’s first season. They added their second and third U.S. Open Cup titles in 2010 and 2011.
Alex Pineda Chacon: Chacon was the 2001 MLS MVP with the Miami Fusion where he scored 19 goals in 25 matches on a team that also featured Sounders FC technical director Chris Henderson. Chacon played three seasons in MLS, including one with Sigi Schmid’s LA Galaxy in 2003. He is in his second season at the helm of the Silverbacks after four years as an assistant coach.
COMING UP: After hosting Atlanta Silverbacks Wednesday in a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup contest, the Sounders take a break until June 16, when they play at Montreal. The Sounders will not return to Seattle until June 20.
Seattle Sounders FC 2012 Schedule / Results
(7-3-3, 24 points, MLS; 1-1 CCL; 0-0 U.S. Open Cup)
|4/7||^at DC United||4:30||KING||D||0-0||2-1-1|
|5/9||^at FC Dallas||5:30||KONG||W||2-0||7-1-1|
|6/30||^vs. New England||4:30||KING||—||—||—|
|7/15||^at New York||1:00||ESPN||—||—||—|
|8/5||^vs. LA Galaxy||6:00||ESPN2||—||—||—|
|8/11||^at San Jose||7:30||KING||—||—||—|
|9/2||^at FC Dallas||4:00||KING||—||—||—|
|10/21||^vs. FC Dallas||6:00||ESPN||—||—||—|
|10/28||^at LA Galaxy||6:00||ESPN||—||—||—|
*=CONCACAF; ^=Major League Soccer; #=International friendly; &=U.S. Open Cup