While the U.S. Open Cup has become something that not many MLS teams take seriously, the Seattle Sounders have become the epitome of success in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup since their first season in MLS in 2009.
Since 2009, the Sounders have won every U.S. Open Cup final and on Wednesday they gave a shot at becoming the first team in the history of America’s longest running soccer tournament to win four straight titles.
“It’s hard to even imagine with as big as the tournament is and as old that it is that we could even be given the opportunity to do that. We’re very aware,” Seattle defender Zach Scott said. “Even last year aware of making history and being the first team in a very long time to win three, and now the fact that after a hard, probably our hardest qualifying run to get to the finals, to find ourselves in a position to do something that nobody has done.”
Granted, success in the Open Cup still ranks below success in the MLS Cup Playoffs but for them success in the Open Cup is still something very important, “It’s more difficult than people think,” said Seattle Sounders head coach Sigi Schimid. “We are a group that has played the most games out of any teams in the MLS in the past 3 years, and winning the cup is winning a championship and its unappreciated.”
The team challenging the three-time champions is none other than Sporting Kansas City, who is vying for its second Dewar Challenge Trophy after winning the 2004 title as the Kansas City Wizards.
Seattle has been perfect in the tournament since 2009 with 16 straight wins heading into Wednesday’s final.
“It’s going to be hard,” said Sporting’s head coach Peter Vermes. “Even though we are playing at home that’s not a factor that we take into account. At the end of the day good teams win anywhere and we know we are up against one of the best.”
“We will approach this game as a final. It’s an opportunity for this organization to win a championship and that in itself is special,” added Vermes of the way he and his team will approach the game tomorrow at Livestrong Sporting Park.
The Sounders knocked out San Jose in the quarterfinals on the road then beat Chivas USA in the semis back home. Now they face Kansas City, which is tied with Houston for the lead in the Eastern Conference of the MLS standings and is 9-3-2 in home matches this season in all competitions.
“It would be something that would be pretty special for the team. I think what we’ve done so far has been special, but it would be special; it would be different, unique,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said. “To do it away from home makes it a little bit tougher, but certainly makes it probably even more special.”