Sounders' quick recovery key to winning U.S. Open Cup game at San Jose
Red cards, little rest stand between Sounders and beating tough San Jose Earthquake on Tuesday on the road.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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Quick turnarounds are hardly new to Sounders FC.
Success in the U.S. Open Cup and participation in the CONCACAF Champions League comes at the cost of schedule congestion with regular midweek games.
But one day's rest is about as demanding as it gets, and that's the main obstacle Seattle faces in a 7:30 p.m. Open Cup quarterfinal Tuesday on the road against the San Jose Earthquakes.
The more specific issue — with the Sounders aiming for the first Open Cup four-peat in the tournament's 99-year history — is player availability.
Coach Sigi Schmid fielded a strong lineup Sunday against rival Portland, and he'll want to do the same in a must-win game against San Jose, arguably the best team in MLS. That's not as easy as it sounds, and the answers weren't immediately available after a loss to the Timbers, which capped the Sounders' worst seven-game stretch in franchise history.
"We'll have to see what we can put out there for that game," said Schmid, who had hoped the quarterfinal would be rescheduled for Wednesday.
The difficult assignment of determining player availability falls heavily on fitness coach Dave Tenney, who will try to stimulate the quickest recovery possible.
The good news for the Sounders is that there are some positives, according to Tenney, including an early kickoff time Sunday that provided more rest, a comfortable bus ride home afterward instead of a flight, and being able to sleep in their own beds that night.
"From those standpoints, it is optimized as much as we can," Tenney said.
So how will he determine who's able to play again a little over 48 hours from the end of Sunday's game? To start with, Tenney said the Sounders who played 60 minutes or less against Portland — defender Patrick Ianni, midfielders Brad Evans and Andy Rose — should be OK to play again Tuesday.
Asked about playing those who went a full 90 on Sunday, Tenney said "the risk increases dramatically."
Another group that might be able to handle the demands of the turnaround includes Sounders who have experience in the United Soccer Leagues or college, where playing two games in three days isn't uncommon. Zach Scott and Alex Caskey fall into that category, but veteran Roger Levesque can relate.
He remembers a USL game in Minnesota on a Saturday night followed by a road game in Montreal.
"That Sunday afternoon game didn't go so well, but we still went out there and still battled and still fought," Levesque said. "And that's what this team will do regardless ... whoever is out there."
• Tuesday's game will be played at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco. There will be a radio broadcast on KIRO 97.3 FM with audio also available on SoundersFC.com. Ross Fletcher and former Sounder Taylor Graham will be on the call. A live webcast will be streamed on SJEarthquakes.com.
• According to an ESPN executive, the overnight rating for Sunday's rivalry game in Portland was a 0.6, the best for a regular-season MLS game on the network since 2001.
• Sounders FC's 7-5-4 league record is no longer all alone for a franchise-best start. Seattle also got 25 points in 16 games in 2009 (6-3-7).
• The Sounders have received three red cards in the past three games and three others this season through retroactive punishment by the MLS Disciplinary Committee. Seattle had just two last year.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @joshuamayers.