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Originally published May 15, 2013 at 7:47 PM | Page modified May 17, 2013 at 12:09 AM

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Sounders will start quest to reclaim U.S. Open Cup on May 29

The Sounders will enter the 2013 U.S. Open Cup in the third round on May 29 with either a road game at the Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL) or at home against VSI Tampa Bay (USL PRO).

Seattle Times staff reporter

Saturday

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7:30 p.m., Ch. 5

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For the first time in three years, Sounders FC isn't the defending U.S. Open Cup champion.

The path to regain that title starts in two weeks, when American MLS teams enter the annual knockout-style tournament in the third round. Seattle will either visit the Tampa Bay Rowdies of the second-tier North American Soccer League or host VSI Tampa Bay of the third-tier USL PRO, according to scenarios released Wednesday by U.S. Soccer. Either game will be May 29.

The Tampa Bay teams face off in the second round Tuesday.

The Sounders won the Open Cup in 2009, 2010 and 2011, but lost the 2012 final to Sporting Kansas City in controversial fashion after a penalty-kick shootout.

A road game against the Rowdies would be at 4:30 p.m. at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, Fla. The pairing is particularly intriguing as it could match up Seattle defender Zach Scott against his younger brother, Dan. The two met in the 2011 Open Cup, when Dan played for the Kitsap Pumas.

A home game against VSI Tampa Bay would by at 7 p.m. at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila. It would clearly be the preferred matchup for Seattle, which would avoid a cross-country trip, especially following a May 26 MLS game at the Los Angeles Galaxy.

The Sounders FC U-23s, a local PDL team affiliated with Sounders FC, would face the Chicago Fire on May 28 if they reach the third round.

The U-23s, which feature products of the Sounders youth academy, beat Doxa Italia, an amateur team from Manhattan Beach, Calif., by a 5-1 score in the first round and travel to face the Charlotte Eagles of the USL PRO in the second round Tuesday.

Injury updates

Obafemi Martins' knee is feeling "much, much better," according to coach Sigi Schmid, and the main concern now for Martins is getting in game shape and being able to practice regularly for the first time since signing in March.

Defender Patrick Ianni was out sick Wednesday and midfielder Steve Zakuani (groin) is still feeling pain despite playing 55 minutes in Sunday's reserve game. Midfielder Mauro Rosales could be in doubt for Saturday's game against FC Dallas with a sprained shoulder.

NOTES

• Reign FC, seeking its first win of the NWSL season, hosts the Washington Spirit (0-2-3) at 7 p.m. Thursday at Starfire Stadium. Seattle, still without the services of some of its top players, is 0-4-1.

• Sounders FC rookie Will Bates returned to the team after a one-game loan with Phoenix FC of the USL PRO. The reserve forward played 90 minutes in Saturday's 4-3 loss to the Dayton Dutch Lions. Schmid explained: "Whenever we can, we're going to try and send guys out to get a game here and there if we don't feel they're going to get a game with us."

• Goalkeeper Josh Ford had surgery to repair a fractured kneecap recently and is expected to be out four to six months. Schmid said the procedure was partially related to a number of knee issues Ford has had since being drafted in 2011. "He's a pretty tough character," Schmid said, "and I know if somebody rehabilitates faster than (expected), it will be him."

Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or jmayers@seattletimes.com

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