4 straight U.S. Open Cups still in Sounders’ grasp

Jul 10, 2012, 8:49 AM | Updated: 10:13 am
Former Sounders defender James Riley, pictured during a recent match against Real Salt Lake, assisted Chivas' only goal when the Goats and Sounders tied 1-1 in May. (AP)

The same question comes up every time the Seattle Sounders FC resumes play in the nation’s oldest soccer tournament: what’s more important, winning four consecutive U.S. Open Cups or capturing the Major League Soccer trophy?

Ask Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid and he obviously wants both.

“A U.S. Open Cup is a championship. It’s something our guys look forward to, and we’re certainly not going to turn it away,” Schmid said following Monday’s training session.

The U.S. Open Cup is the oldest team sports tournament contested in the United States. It was started in 1914 and modeled after the FA Cup.

Only five teams – the New York Greek Americans, the Fall River Marksmen/New Bedford Whalers, St. Louis Stix, Baer and Fuller/St. Louis Central Breweries and the Seattle Sounders – have ever won three straight.

Standing in the way are the Goats of Chivas USA. The Open Cup semifinal match is 7 p.m. Wednesday at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila.

Chivas has struggled in MLS play this season with just 20 points, seventh place in the Western Conference. The goats, however, did manage to tie visiting Sounders FC on May 26. They got an assist from former Seattle defender James Riley.

“This becomes a chance to play in a meaningful game and win a championship for them too,” Schmid said. “It’s the same as playing a rival. You have to discount what’s going on in the league, and whether they’re struggling to score goals, because this is a one-off game.”

A couple of 19-year-olds could be in the lime light for this game. Colombian Jose Correa scored both goals in Chivas’ 2-1 quarterfinal victory over the Charlotte Eagles.

For Seattle, Cordell Cato from Trinidad and Tobago flashed his speed and footwork in wins over Atlanta Silverbacks and Cal FC. The smaller Starfire Stadium is well suited to Cato’s darting runs from the wing.

A victory would put the Sounders in position to host the U.S. Open Cup final at CenturyLink Field for a third consecutive year. The date would be Aug. 8. That will only happen if Philadelphia beats Sporting Kansas City in the other semifinal.

Following Wednesday’s Open Cup game, Seattle heads east for a Sunday afternoon MLS match against the New York Red Bulls. Both games can be heard on 97.3 KIRO FM.

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4 straight U.S. Open Cups still in Sounders’ grasp