TUKWILA, Wash. – History is now well within the Seattle Sounders’ grasp.
With their 4-1 win over Chivas USA in the US Open Cup semifinals on Wednesday, they can now look ahead to trying to become the first team to win four straight titles. Only one other team in the 98-year history of the tournament has ever even gotten this far.
“We’ll be very aware when we step on the field in Kansas City that we have a chance to do something nobody’s done,” Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said about the Aug. 8 final that will be played at Livestrong Sporting Park. “That should be a highly motivating factor for our club and all the players on our team.”
The Sounders put themselves in this position by doing what they do best: win at Starfire Sports Complex, where they are now 17-0-1 in Open Cup play, dating back to their days in the USL.
Chivas USA seemed to struggle early on with the tight dimensions, failing to control much of the ball in the first half and not taking their first shot until the 57th minute.
The Sounders took advantage of that slow start when Eddie Johnson scored in the 31st minute, his sixth goal in his last six games in all competitions. Osvaldo Alonso then converted a penalty kick after halftime that all but sealed the result, despite Chivas pulling one back in the 74th minute through Cesar Romero.
In some ways, this has been the most impressive run of the Sounders’ four trips to the USOC final. They’ve have outscored their opponents by a combined score of 15-2. Included in those games was a 1-0 victory on the road and against the Supporters’ Shield-leading San Jose Earthquakes on short rest. The Sounders now have a 12-match unbeaten streak in Open Cup play, not including a pair of qualifiers they won in 2009.
“When you look at what these guys have done in one-off games, you look at the history of any league around the world and you don’t see any teams winning four straight FA Cups or Copa del Reys or stuff like that,” Schmid said. “You might see teams with four straight league championships, but there are so many things that can go wrong in a one-off game, it’s hard to win four in a row.”
If the Sounders are to do that, they’ll have to get past a Sporting KC team that has been nearly as impressive during their run to the final, is among the best teams in MLS this year and surely highly motivated by the fact that they have not won a major trophy since 2004 and can do so at their sparkling new home.
The Sounders don’t seem to be worried about any of that right now, though. As midfielder Brad Evans succinctly concluded, “Just the chance isn’t good enough for us.”
Jeremiah Oshan covers the Seattle Sounders for MLSsoccer.com and SB Nation.