Sounders FC hopes to keep Open Cup streak alive at Starfire
Sounders FC hopes to use the home-field advantage at Starfire Sports Complex in its U.S. Open Cup semifinals match Tuesday against the Houston Dynamo.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Latest from the Sounders FC blog
TUKWILA — It isn't exactly the Taj Mahal of stadiums, not even coming close to the majesty of Qwest Field. But the compact Starfire Sports Complex stadium has one up on its giant neighbor to the north: When Sounders FC has played there, it hasn't lost.
Seattle is undefeated at Starfire in three U.S. Open Cup matches and hopes to keep the streak alive at its second home with a win over the Houston Dynamo in the Open Cup semifinals tonight.
Houston is the best team in Major League Soccer's Western Conference despite the absence of top players Stuart Holden and Brian Ching, who are with the U.S. national team in CONCACAF Gold Cup play. Both are MLS All-Stars. But the Dynamo's three other All-Stars will be available — midfielder Brad Davis, defender Geoff Cameron and goalkeeper Pat Onstad.
The advantage for Sounders FC could be found in the venue, Starfire, and its bouncy, flattened turf that several former United Soccer Leagues Sounders know well.
"There's some guys on our team who have played some matches here and are familiar with it," Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid said. "The crowd is close and the crowd is pro-Seattle, which gives us a good advantage and certainly helps our team. The surface is not the ideal surface for us, either. But it is a surface that we are maybe a little more used to than the opponent is."
Some fans thought this match should have been played at Qwest Field, where more tickets could have been sold. Instead, the team opted to play at Starfire and increase the capacity of around 4,000 to perhaps 4,500 or more.
"You've got to come to our place. And the crowd is here and the crowd's right on top of you and it could get a little intimidating that way," Schmid said.
The atmosphere at the quarterfinal match against Kansas City earlier this month was a zoo. More of the same is expected tonight as Sounders FC hopes to win and get the chance to play for a trophy in its first season.
Forward-midfielder Sebastien Le Toux could figure in the result. He has thrived at Starfire, leading the USL Sounders in Open Cup goals with five last season, then scoring twice in play-in games for the MLS Sounders before converting a penalty against Kansas City this year.
"It's a home-field advantage for Seba. Seba loves playing here," Schmid said. "He's the one who always makes sure Adrian [Hanauer, Sounders general manager] bids to have the game here rather than someplace else."
Teammate Roger Levesque, another former USL Sounder with a good Open Cup past, joked that Le Toux is "Mr. Open Cup."
"It's a competition that he's always thrived in," Levesque said. "The two of us have played a lot of games together the last couple of years, especially on that field. It's tight. Working in combination together we seem to always look for each other. ... Basically you just have to give him the ball around the goal and he scores."
José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
UPDATE - 8:54 PM
Sounders lose to another expansion team
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.