Coming off their fourth consecutive MLS victory, the Western Conference and Supporters’ Shield-leading Seattle Sounders would like to keep the good times rolling.
Bagging a US Open Cup championship on the road in Tuesday night’s final against the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park (7:30 pm ET, GolTV), for a fourth title in six years, would allow them to do precisely that.
“We’re just happy to be in the Open Cup final again,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid told reporters at a press conference Monday in Philadelphia. “It’s a tournament that as a club we take very seriously. If you look at our past history, I think it reflects that.”
The Sounders are familiar with Open Cup finals in recent years, as they have participated in five of the last six, only missing out in 2013 after an embarrassing 1-0 defeat to the NASL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies that sent the Sounders packing in just the third round.
In addition to trying to maintain the recent run of solid play, Seattle have redemption on their mind, likely from both last year's exit, as well as the 2012 final, which they lost to Sporting Kansas City in a penalty shootout.
“We were disappointed last year by getting knocked out early,” Schmid said. “But we’re very excited. We’re happy to be playing against a team that’s playing really well right now. It’s going to be a tough game, it’s going to be a competitive game, a fun one to watch.”
On a team with plenty of potent goal-scoring options, the most production for Seattle throughout this year’s Open Cup has come from an otherwise under-the-radar source.
Veteran forward Kenny Cooper, who has played in a reserve role for much of the season, exploded for a tournament-leading six goals in four USOC matches this season and now has 13 for his career. He’ll look to add to that total Tuesday night.
Cooper cited his personal connection with the tournament as one factor that has helped elevate his game. Cooper’s father, Kenny Cooper, Sr., is a former professional soccer player who played under USOC trophy namesake Lamar Hunt in the 1970s with the NASL’s Dallas Tornado.
“For me personally to be part of a competition that has Lamar Hunt’s name on the trophy is very special,” Cooper said. “Lamar brought my father here to the States back in the '70s, and he played his entire career for Lamar. … It would be very special for me to lift that trophy, and hopefully I’ll get that chance.”