SEATTLE – The common thinking is that the 35,000 fans expected at CenturyLink Field on Tuesday night for the US Open Cup final will prove a massive advantage for the Seattle Sounders when they host the Chicago Fire.
But the visitors want everyone to know that they are equally motivated by the Sounders faithful.
“Personally, it motivates me more,” defender Cory Gibbs said on Monday from the team’s hotel in Seattle. “I like these type of crowds and I also speak for the team, we’re ready for the challenge. It’s something huge.”
The supporters in attendance – which will also include 100 traveling Section 8 fans cheering on the Fire – have actually factored into Chicago’s strategy and approach, according to MLS Golden Boot contender Dominic Oduro.
“It’s our game plan to go up early and calm it down and hopefully we can stick to the game plan,” he said on Monday. “You always got to tune [the fans] out. It’s really a hard place to play. You have the fans screaming that you can’t hear your own teammates ask for the ball. An early goal would calm them down and silence them a little bit. That’s what we’re going to try and do.”
If the Fire are going to pull it off, it’s going to mean stopping Seattle Designated Player Fredy Montero, who’s on a hot streak in recent matches, scoring five goals and registering three assists in the last six league matches, including two tallies over the weekend.
“He’s a player who pounces on mistakes,” Gibbs said. “You’ve got to stay prepared and not give anything up at any time. We know a lot about him and the team has other threats – it’s not just him. We have to stay focused the full 90 plus minutes.”
As far as the Fire are concerned, they were able to rest five starters in the weekend match against the Houston Dynamo, a 1-1 tie that marked their fourth consecutive positive result in league play. They feel they can continue that run against Seattle.
“We’re psyched to play the game looking at our current form, and if we stick to [the gameplan], we should be able to make something happen,” Oduro said. “We’re ready to go right now. We want it so bad. If we don’t make it to the playoffs, which we still know we can make it, this is something we need to just put in the bag to comfort us right now.”
Both Gibbs and Oduro talked about their desire to win the cup for their manager, Frank Klopas, who scored the game-winner in the 1998 US Open Cup final against the Columbus Crew at Soldier Field.
“Personally, I think it’ll be fantastic for the whole organization, for the team and the coach [to win the cup],” Oduro said. “He’s doing a great job. This would be something good for his resumé and we’d love to win it for him. … The players owe it to the fans to bring it back to Chicago.”