Seattle's home field advantage key in USOC semi victory
TUKWILA, Wash. — In a US Open Cup semifinal that rested on the edge of a razor, Seattle goalkeeper Kasey Keller credited home-field advantage with Tuesday’s 1-0 victory over FC Dallas.
The Sounders FC organization won the right to host this match by successfully outbidding FC Dallas through the USOC bidding process.
With both squads having traveled extensively for the Champions League, Keller believed that the additional mileage for FC Dallas may have made a difference.
“I have to admit, the reason why we won this game was because our organization was willing to outbid them for this home game,” Keller said. “That little bit of extra travel [for FC Dallas], that little tiny percent extra was what got us through tonight.”
For Keller, the winning bid submitted by the Sounders FC organization shows the weight the club puts on this competition. Now vying for their third consecutive Open Cup, the Sounders have ridden home-field advantage for much of it.
In the past three seasons, Seattle have posted a 11-0-1 record in USOC play, including play-in matches. At home, the Sounders have ripped off a perfect 9-0-0 record, outscoring visitors 20-6. With the exception of last season’s USOC Final victory over Columbus, all of those home matches have been played at Starfire, the soccer complex near Sea-Tac Airport, which also hosts Seattle’s training facility.
General Manager Adrian Hanauer said he will look at the numbers of webcast viewers to gauge demand before possibly moving future games to CenturyLink Field. Certainly, the second-hand ticket market was abuzz for Tuesday’s match, which was witnessed by 4,593 fans at cozy Starfire Sports Stadium.
With a strong second half, FC Dallas looked likely to tie the game on a few different occasions. Seattle, with equal parts grit and fortune, were able to escape the threat.
“There are things we need to be better at, especially when we’re tired,” Keller said. “We mis-trapped a couple balls that we never should have mis-trapped that put us under pressure. Things like that. If you want to truly finish a game off in the right way, you have to do it the right way. The higher the level, you are going to get punished for that.”
Two Sounders players needed medical attention after the match, which was played in a physical manner by both teams. Brad Evans hand needed attention for some possible dislocated fingers, while Mike Fucito needed stitches for a cut under his eye.
Schmid credited his team for keeping calm despite the fevered atmosphere, which saw FCD captain Daniel Hernandez red-carded after the match for abusive language.
“Generally, when teams were physical against us in the past, in our first two years, we had trouble with that,” Schmid said. “We’re doing a much better job of dealing with teams when they play a more aggressive style and still being able to maintain our composure and do what we need to do.”
Andrew Winner covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewWinnerMLS