TUKWILA , Wash. — A 9,000 mile road trip is not the ideal way to prepare for a championship game. But the Seattle Sounders, who recently completed just such a marathon, feel rested ahead of Tuesday’s US Open Cup final against the Chicago Fire. Brad Evans, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Osvaldo Alonso were each held out of the starting XI for Saturday’s match against the New England Revolution in order to keep them fresh for Tuesday night.
“It’s going to help us,” Schmid said. “We were able to rest the players that we needed to rest and wanted to rest, and so I think those guys will be ready to go.”
James Riley (concussion) and Mauro Rosales (MCL sprain) may be available on Tuesday night – both are listed as questionable – for what is undeniably an important game for the club.
General Manager Adrian Hanauer estimated the number of spectators around 35,000. That figure would surpass last year’s attendance of 31,311 and would likely mark the new USOC attendance record – accurate attendance records are not available for the tournament’s early years – and Hanauer has reiterated his pledge that “no fan will be turned away” from attending the match.
“For us, to play in front of 40,000 fans is special,” said Evans. “If we can get the result, it makes it even that much more special.”
Tuesday’s final matches two of the most storied clubs in the history of the US Open Cup. Like Seattle, Chicago also won the Cup in their expansion season. The Fire have won the tournament four times total, and have reached the semifinal in eight of the past 14 competitions.
Seattle boasts a strong history as well. Including the performances of the USL Sounders, Seattle have been to at least the semifinal in each of the last five years.
“There’s been a lot of pride dating back to the USL days in the Open Cup,” said Roger Levesque, one of three remaining holdovers from the USL Sounders. “ […] With the MLS team coming in, it’s one of those things where regardless of who steps on the field and what competition it is, the goal is to win. I think that attitude has developed over the last few years.”
“Throw on top of that the little bit extra that the Open Cup means,” Levesque added. “It’s our first trophy as the MLS Sounders the first year, and winning again last year, it’s one of those things where we take it seriously. We want to go out and win a third time.”
- Osvaldo Alonso, who played for the Charleston Battery in the 2008 US Open Cup final, is set to compete in his fourth consecutive Final. That Battery team defeated Levesque and the USL Sounders on penalty kicks in the semifinal round.
- Schmid said he had received an e-mail from some former UCLA teammates who were also members of Maccabi Los Angeles, one of two five-time winners alongside Bethlehem Steel. Schmid paraphrased the good-natured message as follows: “Even if you win, you still have two more to catch us.”
- Ahead of the match, Hanauer expressed gratitude for the ticket-selling prowess of the Seattle Seahawks organization for helping build the crowd that “hopefully gets us over the finish line."
Andrew Winner covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com.