Sounders FC faces L.A. in Open Cup quarterfinal
With a win Wednesday night at Starfire, Seattle would host a semifinal game on Aug. 30 in the U.S. Open Cup.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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TUKWILA — Bidding for U.S. Open Cup home games is a closed-envelope process, so Sounders FC general manager Adrian Hanauer knew only what he had offered U.S. Soccer to host in the semifinal round.
It was "a fairly significant sum of money," said Hanauer, whose team plays the Los Angeles Galaxy in a 7 p.m. quarterfinal Wednesday at Starfire Stadium.
When the results came in, Seattle had outbid FC Dallas in one scenario but surprisingly lost to Real Salt Lake in the other. The realization came quickly.
"Clearly teams are taking the tournament more seriously," Hanauer said.
Because of FC Dallas' 2-0 quarterfinal win Tuesday night against Real Salt Lake, the Sounders still stand to host an Open Cup semifinal on Aug. 30 should they beat the MLS-leading Galaxy. But with league-wide attention and commitment to the tournament increasing, Seattle's road to a third-straight Open Cup championship will be harder than ever.
So why do teams care more?
Coach Sigi Schmid thinks qualification into the CONCACAF Champions League for winning the tournament is an important factor.
"Team have stepped up and recognized that, 'Wait a second, we want to be a part of that,' " he said.
More aggressive bidding is the clearest example of that commitment, but Schmid said there might be a better process to determine which team gets to host. A former coach at UCLA, Schmid recalls that financial considerations sometimes outweighed a team's on-field accomplishments when it came to hosting NCAA playoff games.
"U.S. Soccer is going through a little bit of that now," Schmid said. "I know they're always exploring the best way to make the Open Cup as attractive as possible."
White taken off DL
Forward O'Brian White has been taken off the disabled list and is immediately eligible to return to MLS action. The 25-year-old Jamaican had surgery in April to remove a blood clot in his left leg, but could return Saturday in a league game against Colorado or next week in a friendly against Manchester United.
"I feel like I'm ready to play, especially since I'll be coming off the bench and playing limited minutes," White said. "I feel like I'm ready for that."
• Defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado has an MCL sprain in his right knee, an MRI has revealed. The Colombian suffered the injury in the second half of Sunday's game in Portland. He has been ruled out of games Wednesday and Saturday, but could return next week.
• Hanauer said the team is hoping to work with Starfire Sports to increase capacity at Starfire Stadium to around 7,000.
• Schmid said L.A. could be at full strength Wednesday since the team doesn't have a league game this weekend, just an exhibition against Real Madrid. "There's nothing that hinders them from throwing out their best team," said Schmid, "unless they feel the Real Madrid game is more important than the Open Cup game."
• Jordan Graye, a former D.C. United and Houston Dynamo defender, has joined Sounders FC for a tryout.
• There will be a live webstream of Wednesday's game available on SoundersFC.com.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or email@example.com
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