TUKWILA, Wash. — Seattle to Los Angeles to Florida and back. It’s a trip that will span about 7,000 miles and take place over the course of a little more than a week.
While the Seattle Sounders may not be thrilled about having to do it, they have now moved to the acceptance phase about the the road they face to what they hope will be a fifth straight US Open Cup final. The first step comes next Wednesday when they visit the NASL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies following a league match against the LA Galaxy on Sunday and ahead of a road match against Chivas USA the following Saturday.
“My attitude is always the same: If you’re going to enter something, enter it to win,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said on Wednesday. “That doesn’t mean we’re not going to play some different people, but we also feel that they’re capable of playing. But we’re not going to send out a 100 percent reserve team, either, because we think it’s a balance that allows us to achieve that success.”
Schmid suggested that at least a few players could feature in all three matches and some would definitely be asked to play on short rest.
At least that part is nothing new to a team that has grown used to juggling multiple competitions.
“Guys are going to have to step up, there’s no doubt about that,” midfielder Servando Carrasco said. “We’re a very deep squad and whenever you have three games in eight days, it’s a test. It’s a challenge to all of us. But we know we have the depth to handle those three matches.”
While multiple games over a short period are nothing new, this particular trip presents Seattle with some new challenges. They were unable to book a flight from Los Angeles to Tampa on short notice, so will instead take multiple flights into Orlando. A bus will then take them the final 80 miles to St. Petersburg, where the Rowdies’ home stadium is actually located.
“An eight-day road trip isn’t very ideal, my wife and kids aren’t happy,” said Sounders defender Zach Scott, who will be playing in his 10th Open Cup. “In the end, we know what we’re getting into when we enter this tournament. There’s always that possibility of a long travel week.
"We’ve won on the road before, we’ve won a championship on the road. At this point, we expect nothing less. We’re going to take it like professionals and hopefully get a result.”