Sounders play for chance to get into fourth consecutive U.S. Open Cup final
No team has won four U.S. Open Cups in a row. To get that chance, the Sounders will have to beat Chivas USA in Wednesday's semifinal.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Chivas USA vs. Sounders, U.S. Open Cup, 7 p.m.
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TUKWILA — A chance for a chance at history.
That's what Sounders FC will be playing for Wednesday in a U.S. Open Cup semifinal against Chivas USA. Seattle, the three-time defending champion, could become the first team to win four in a row since the annual tournament began in 1914.
Kickoff at a sold-out Starfire Stadium is 7 p.m.
"We haven't talked a lot about winning four — that's a game away — but we're talking about getting the opportunity to get that," said coach Sigi Schmid. "Certainly the history ... and to win four is something that hasn't been accomplished before. All that makes it unique, makes it special."
Special is what the Sounders' run has already been in the Open Cup.
Overall, the team is 16-0-1 in the knockout-style event — 13-0 at home, 12-0 against MLS competition — having outscored opponents 39-10.
The path this year has included two convincing wins against lower-league teams (5-1 vs. the Atlanta Silverbacks of the second-tier NASL, 5-0 vs. amateur side Cal FC) and perhaps the most impressive Open Cup result in franchise history, a 1-0 quarterfinal road win against league-leading San Jose on short rest.
Sustained success, in a competition that offers no room for error is what stands out most to Schmid.
"There are a lot of teams in MLS that have never won an Open Cup trophy," the coach said, "and for us to have three already is something that helps set us apart a little bit ... and something we can look on with pride."
Last year, Seattle joined an exclusive club of three-time Open Cup winners with the Fall River Marksmen/New Bedford Whalers (1930-32), Stix, Baer & Fuller/St. Louis Central Breweries (1933-35) and New York Greek American SC (1967-69).
Only one team in the tournament's near-100-year history — Stix, Baer & Fuller/St. Louis Central Breweries — had a chance at a fourth straight title, known in 1936 as the St. Louis Shamrocks.
Sounders veteran Roger Levesque, who has been to six straight Open Cup semifinals dating to 2008 with the USL Sounders, said the team does a good job of shifting attention away from the grand undertaking of rewriting history.
"Regardless of who steps out there on Wednesday, that's the focus and that's our drive — winning that game," said Levesque, the franchise leader with six Open Cup assists. "Whatever comes along with it, any kind of recognition, is great for the organization and great for the sport."
The Open Cup semifinal will mark Seattle's eighth game in 26 days, which along with form and fitness could result in another new-look lineup.
The players might change, but the mentality doesn't.
"Every game is a must-win for us," said defender Zach Scott, who has also been to six straight semifinals. "We don't take anything lightly. We don't play a second team or a 'B' team or whatever you want to call it. We put out the team that's going to be the best team for us and the team that's going to get us a victory."
• Wednesday's game will be broadcast on 97.3 KIRO-FM and streamed online at SoundersFC.com. Mark Rogondino and former Sounders defender Taylor Graham will be on the call.
• Philadelphia hosts Sporting Kansas City in Wednesday's other semifinal. K.C. would host either Seattle or Chivas USA in the final Aug. 7 or 8. Seattle would host the Union at CenturyLink Field in one final scenario; Philadelphia would host Chivas in the other.
• GK Michael Gspurning practiced for the first time against live action since suffering a hip strain in May. The 31-year-old, who has missed the past 12 MLS games, won't play but could be available for Sunday's league game in New York, according to Schmid.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or email@example.com.
On Twitter: @joshuamayers