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Originally published Monday, July 13, 2009 at 6:59 PM

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Sounders FC to bid on U.S. Open Cup title match

The team this week plans to submit a financial bid for the championship game, in which it would play if it defeats Houston on July 21 in the Cup semifinals.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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This week, Sounders FC will bid for the right to host the U.S. Open Cup championship game, of which it could be a part if the team wins its semifinal match against the Houston Dynamo on July 21.

The semifinal match will be played at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila. The team plans to add 500 to 1,000 seats to the venue, which could push Starfire Stadium's capacity to 5,000 or more.

Sounders FC hopes its bid will be accepted over possible ones from the other teams in the semifinals: Houston and D.C. United of Major League Soccer, and Rochester of the United Soccer Leagues. The winning bid comes down to which club offers the most money to the U.S. Soccer Federation.

Qwest Field is being considered as the venue for the championship match. Starfire has been the site for every other Open Cup home game for Sounders FC, despite objections from fans who didn't get tickets for those games and had hoped the quarterfinal game against Kansas City last Tuesday would be moved to Qwest.

"We considered our options for the quarterfinals," Sounders FC general manager Adrian Hanauer said. "We were still selling standing-room tickets the day of the game. It didn't feel like it was a 30,000 [seat] demand.

"It's just a better vibe at a packed stadium then a half-full stadium," he added. "That energy has helped us get through games."

While some might consider Sounders FC's bid a little too optimistic given that the team still has get past the Dynamo — which Seattle defeated 2-1 Saturday in MLS play — the bid has to be submitted in advance. Hanauer said D.C. United will likely also make a strong bid to host the championship.

D.C. has won two U.S. Open Cups, including the 2008 title. It hosted three games at RFK Stadium in its Open Cup run last year.

Even though an Open Cup championship is still two wins away for Seattle, the franchise is already looking at the bigger picture. It's a strong possibility that the Open Cup champ will automatically qualify for the 2010-2011 CONCACAF Champions League tournament for top club teams in North America, Central America and the Caribbean.

Hanauer said there are a number of benefits to Sounders FC for playing in such a tournament.

"Certainly it's the exposure, and the prize money," Hanauer said. "In Champions League, there's a much higher likelihood that those games would be at Qwest."

José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or jromero@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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