The Sounders take a break from MLS play Wednesday when they play their first U.S. Open Cup match against the North American Soccer League’s Tampa Bay Rowdies.
MATCH: Seattle Sounders FC (4-4-3, 15 points, T6, MLS West; 0-0 U.S. Open Cup) at Tampa Bay Rowdies, (3-2-2, NASL). TYPE: Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. WHEN: Wednesday, 4:30 p.m., Lang Stadium, St. Petersburg, FL. MEETING: 1st. TV: None. BROADCAST COVERAGE: Sounders FC.com Audio.
Denied a chance to win a fourth consecutive Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in August when they lost on penalty kicks to Sporting Kansas City, the Sounders begin their quest to reclaim the Cup Wednesday when they contest the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the North American Soccer League in St. Petersburg, FL. Seattle is 17-1-1 in Open Cup play since joining Major League Soccer in 2009.
Seattle, coming off a 4-0 drubbing administered by the LA Galaxy Sunday night, won the 2009 Cup at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., with a 2-1 victory over D.C. United, the 2010 Cup at home with a 2-1 win over the Columbus Crew, and the 2011 Cup at CenturyLink Field by defeating the Chicago Fire 2-0.
Last year, Sporting Kansas City out-bid the Sounders to host the the title match, and the home field edge certainly didn’t hurt the hosts.
Looking to become the second club in the 100-year history of the tournament to reach five consecutive U.S. Open Cup finals (first since Bethlehem Steel from 1915-19), the Sounders will play the Rowdies (a third-round match) on the heels of probably the worst performance in franchise history. They set a dubious record by allowing four first-half goals, and they got off a franchise-low two shots.
“The guys know they’re a better team than that,” head coach Sigi Schmid said in the morose aftermath. “But they got their rear ends handed to them.”
The Sounders have yet to lose a U.S. Open Cup match in regulation in four years in the tournament, but the Rowdies easily could give them problems. Tampa Bay won the 2012 NASL title and didn’t wilt in matches against MLS teams during the 2013 preseason.
“This game is a test to see how far we have come along as a team since we first played MLS teams in preseason,” said Tampa defender Andres Arango. “We did not get the results we expected, but I feel we have improved immensely and have a great opportunity ahead of us. Being able to host the Sounders in our stadium and in front of our fans is a headline waiting to be written.”
Tampa Bay forward Amani Walker, who joined the Rowdies this season, played with Minnesota last year and was part of a team that shocked Real Salt Lake in the third round of the Cup.
“Cup games are important because if you lose, you go home, but if you win, you go on,” said Walker. “It adds a different dynamic to the game. The opportunity to play against a MLS team gives us the chance to show how good our league is. It gives us the chance to upset a powerful team like Seattle and I believe we are up for it.”
Tampa midfielder Keith Savage spent the 2009-2010 season playing for the Portland Timbers and knows the Sounders well.
“I’m excited to get the chance to play against one of the biggest rivals I used to have playing for Portland,” he said. “We lost to Seattle in penalty kicks in Open Cup when I was there. When playing a MLS team, the pressure is really on them to come away with a win. We have nothing to lose and can just go out and try to play the style we want to play. It’s a great opportunity for the players, the organization, and all of our fans to be a part of this U.S. Open Cup experience.”
“It will be a great experience to play against the Sounders because you know you’ll be up against quality players,” added Tampa midfielder Luke Mulholland. “In turn, you’ve really got to be consistent in your play and concentrate the entire game.”
The Sounders will be without forward Eddie Johnson and defender Brad Evans, who are fulfilling national team commitments. Steve Zakuani and Osvaldo Alonso missed the Galaxy match with groin injuries. Their availability will be a game-time decision.
The winner of the Sounders-Rowdies match will advance to the fourth round to face the Wilmington Hammerheads-Portland Timbers victor. Should the Sounders advance, they will host either the Hammerheads or Timbers at Starfire Stadium June 12 at 7 p.m.
MODERN-ERA U.S. OPEN CUP THREE-PEATS
SERIES: The Sounders have never faced the Rowdies as a member of MLS, but played them frequently during the days of the old North American Soccer League (1974-84).
SOUNDERS U.S. OPEN CUP RESULTS
|28-Apr-09||Real Salt Lake||W||4-1||3,890||1-0-0|
|02-Sept.-09||at D.C. United||W||2-1||17,329||6-0-0|
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 a win in the final at D.C. United, 2-1.
|30-Jun-10||at Portland||D||1-1 PK||15,422||6-0-1|
Nate 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.
Fredy Montero stole the show, netting three game-winners in the final three matches, and Osvaldo Alonso delivered a well-crafted goal in stoppage time in the final against Chicago.
|26-June-12||at San Jose||W||1-0||7,219||16-0-1|
Sammy Ochoa’s two goals eliminated the Atlanta Silverbacks in a third-round match. Freddy Montero and Osvaldo Alonso each scored twice in the Sounders’ win over Cal FC. Match marked the first time two Seattle players scored multiple goals in the same game. Cordell Cato scored Seattle’s lone goal against the Earthquakes in San Francisco in the 19th minute. Four Sounders tallied in the 4-1 win over Chivas in the semifinals. In the final, Sporting won on penalty kicks, handing Seattle its first-ever loss in U.S. Open Cup competition.
SOUNDERS U.S. OPEN CUP HISTORY
Seattle is officially 17-0-2 in Open Cup play, including 3-0-2 on the road, outscoring opponents 44-12.
A Seattle team has advanced to the Cup semifinals in each of the past six 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 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
COMING UP: The Sounders return to Los Angeles to face Chivas USA Saturday. The club will host Vancouver in a Cascadia Cup match June 8.
Seattle Sounders FC 2013 Schedule / Results
(4-4-3, 15 points, MLS; 1-1-0 CCL; 0-0-0 U.S. Open Cup)
|3/6||*at Tigres||7:00||Fox Soccer||L||1-0||0-0-0|
|3/23||^at San Jose||7:30||KING 5||L||1-0||0-2-1|
|5/26||^at LA Galaxy||8:00||ESPN2||L||4-0||4-4-3|
|7/13||^at San Jose||7:30||KING/KONG||—||—||—|
|9/21||^at LA Galaxy||7:30||NBCSN||—||—||—|
|10/19||^at FC Dallas||1:00||NBCSN||—||—||—|
*=CONCACAF; ^=Major League Soccer; #=U.S. Open Cup