U.S. Open Cup: Sounders FC try to make history in Kansas City
Sounders FC hopes to win a fourth consecutive U.S. Open Cup when it plays Wednesday night at Sporting Kansas City.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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Sounders FC wants to leave a legacy, something that will be talked about for years.
Seattle plays not just for an unprecedented fourth consecutive U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday in Kansas City against Sporting Kansas City, but for history.
"When you're done, you want to leave a legacy," Sounders FC forward Eddie Johnson said. "Look back and say, 'Oh, I was a part of this team when they did this.' There's a lot of professional athletes in the world that played for many years, made good money in their career, but haven't won anything. You want to be remembered when you're done because people forget about you real quick."
Although Johnson is one of the 10 players on Seattle's roster who are new to the U.S. Open Cup finals, the significance isn't lost on him. He has seen the images of confetti falling on teammate Fredy Montero and former goalkeeper Kasey Keller while the latter holds the silver cup high to adoring fans. And Johnson' has heard the stories about the new MLS franchise shocking the field — every year of its existence.
The Sounders face Sporting Kansas City at Livestrong Sporting Park for the title, their first final on the road in the 99-year-old tournament. . If successful, the Sounders would be the third club in the world to win a fourth consecutive major knockout-style tournament.
With last year's win, the Sounders joined the New York Greek-Americans (1967-69) to win the U.S. Open Cup in three consecutive seasons.
"This is a huge thing for us as a franchise," Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. " ... This is a great opportunity for us to do something very, very special. It's like I said to the players, it's something you can bring your grandkids and say, 'That's me up there. Those are our four Open Cup trophies that we won in a row.' "
It won't be easy. Kansas City is tied with Houston for the lead in the MLS Eastern Conference. K.C. is, 9-3-2 in home matches this season overall and hasn't conceded a goal in Open Cup play since the opening round.
Seattle is also in the midst of a tough stretch. It won a CONCACAF Champion League match Thursday and shut out the MLS's Los Angeles Galaxy 4-0 on Sunday before 60,000 fans at CenturyLink Field.
Kansas City is playing in its first Open Cup final. The team is nursing multiple injuries, including midfielder Roger Espinoza, who returned from Olympic play with Honduras with a shoulder injury.
K.C. coach Peter Vermes, who says he's uncertain who'll start Wednesday, realizes Seattle is a formidable opponent.
"They're not the defending champs. They're three-times the defending champs," Vermes said. "They're in this position because of players and leadership for sure and we realize that."
Still, he isn't conceding anything to Seattle.
"It's going to be a very tough game for us, but there's no doubt it helps to be playing at home and with our fans," the coach said. "We're going to have to be at the top of our game to be able to compete."
|Sounders FC will play for its fourth consecutive U.S. Open Cup championship today. The outcome of the last three championships:|