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Sounders are unlucky in draw
If Seattle advances past Tuesday's fourth-round match against Cal FC, it will play its quarterfinal game on the road regardless of its opponent — and coach Sigi Schmid wasn't quite sure that was due to chance.
Seattle Times staff reporter
U.S. Open Cup match: Cal FC @ Sounders FC, 7 p.m., FSC
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TUKWILA — Sigi Schmid has a sense about the U.S. Open Cup draw.
The Sounders FC coach saw that if his team advances past Tuesday's fourth-round match against amateur side Cal FC, it was drawn to play its quarterfinal game on the road regardless of its opponent — and he wasn't quite sure that was due to chance.
Hosting rights for the early rounds of the Open Cup are determined through a blind draw by U.S. Soccer. Seattle, the three-time defending champion, has regularly been on the losing end of the 50-50 odds this year.
"Obviously, the coin is not favorable to us," joked Schmid, whose comments then took a serious turn.
"Being very frank, I think U.S. Soccer is trying to make it difficult for us to win an Open Cup. It's almost like sometimes I get the feeling like they'd rather not see us win it again, for whatever reasons."
In pointed comments Sunday afternoon, Schmid noted that the draw has appeared to favor D.C. United and Sporting Kansas City. He added that Kevin Payne, D.C. United CEO and president, and Peter Vermes, Sporting KC coach, have each served on the U.S. Soccer executive committee.
"Surprisingly," Schmid quipped.
The Sounders have played 12 of their 15 Open Cup games at home since joining MLS, but hosting rights before this year were subject to a closed-envelope bidding process. In January, U.S. Soccer changed the policy to a random-selection process through the quarterfinals, which hasn't been to the Sounders' favor.
They first lost hosting rights to the Atlanta Silverbacks in the third round, but purchased them directly from the second-tier North American Soccer League team. Seattle also lost out to rival Portland in the fourth round, but benefited when the Timbers were upset by Cal FC.
If the Sounders advance to the quarterfinals, they will play either at San Jose (MLS) or Minnesota (NASL) on June 26, provided another deal isn't made.
Does Schmid think the federation is actively working against his team behind closed doors?
"I wouldn't say working against us, but a two-headed coin usually comes up heads," he said with a laugh. "I'm not saying they're using a two-headed coin, but I mean nobody sees the coin flip. Nobody is there."
Schmid said he has experienced some peculiar events in international soccer, where the draws "turned out exactly the way you wanted them to turn out." And it's not uncommon for conspiracy theories to be associated with draws in major tournaments.
The solution? Transparency, which, Schmid said, is only possible "when you don't have anything to hide."
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or email@example.com. On Twitter @joshuamayers.