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US Open Cup Preview

Posted on 07 August 2012 by Kyle Alm

Seattle Sounders face off against Sporting Kansas City in the Lamar Hunt US Open cup Final tomorrow, in Livestrong Park. Sounders have won the Cup the last three years running, the biggest criticism of their success is that is that they have played a majority of their US Open Cup matches in Qwest/CenturyLink or Starfire Sports Complex in front of their home crowd. Sounders did win the US Open Cup hosted by DC United in 2009 and have hosted the Final in 2010 & 2011.

Detractors can say that winning is easier at home, but it’s not easy to win a Cup Final no matter where it is played. Despite the criticism it is fair to say that the Sounders run of success has raised the profile of this competition. Other teams certainly have taken notice of what the competition has meant to the Supporters of the Sounders and now see the US Open Cup as worthy of trying to win and host.

Sounders have hosted so many matches because they can afford to pay more for them under the sealed bid process of awarding home matches. Sounders draw approximately 4,500 (give or take) at Starfire for USOC which certainly allows them to invest more than teams that wouldn’t draw so well. Adrian Hanauer was surprised that Kansas City was awarded the Final, Sigi Schmid also criticized the process as being opaque. The story goes that Sporting KC & Seattle Sounders FC submitted identical bids and a coin flip determined the winner. A coin flip no one saw. Schmid went so far as to comment about the ties to US Soccer, who runs the US Open Cup, from the DC United & Sporting KC clubs.

Sounders are fresh off of their 4-0 drubbing of LA Galaxy, and have a new signing with Christian Tiffert CM who logged his first minutes in that match. Sounders have Michael Gspurning, MLS leader in GAA, who has been out with an injury since May 2nd in LA against Galaxy. Sporting have their share of injury issues, center back Aurelin Collin is injured, but would miss the match anyway due to yellow card accumulation, Bobby Convey and Jacob Peterson are also doubtful.

Sporting KC certainly have been a team on the rise in MLS, a new soccer specific stadium at Livestrong Park, tied for first in the Eatern Confernce with DC United at 40 points. Sounders are equal, with a game in hand and three points behind. It’s difficult to handicap this match, it seems to be exactly even, Sounders have the better record recently and have a new DP with Tiffert, but Sporting have Kei Kamara in the middle, who has had several big matches against Sounders, and the home fans. I would like to give the edge to Seattle, because they know that this is a playoff type atmosphere against a top MLS side and they have the opportunity to make it four Cups in a row, but Sporting have a chance to win their first US Open Cup since 2004 when they were the Wizards and played in a baseball stadium.

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