Sounders, eager to put L.A. debacle in past, begin quest for U.S. Open Cup
Sounders FC's path to a fourth U.S. Open Cup trophy starts on the road Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Rowdies, the reigning champions of the second-tier North American Soccer League.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Sounders @ Tampa Bay Rowdies, 4:30 p.m.
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For Sounders FC, there can't be a much better pick-me-up than the U.S. Open Cup.
So while Sunday's four-goal beating against the Los Angeles Galaxy still stings, Seattle gets welcome distraction and a quick turnaround with a tournament it has won three times and advanced to the finals of the past four years.
The path to another Open Cup trophy starts on the road Wednesday with a third-round game against the Tampa Bay Rowdies, the 2012 champion of the second-tier North American Soccer League. Kickoff is at 4:30 p.m.
"I don't think anybody was happy with the last performance," coach Sigi Schmid said of Sunday's 4-0 embarrassment. "If you want to make it a one-off, you have to step up on the field and play well (Wednesday)."
There will be some changes to the Sounders lineup on short rest and long travel.
Veterans Mauro Rosales, Djimi Traore and Leo Gonzalez didn't make the trip for rest purposes, but the group was joined in Florida by reserves Sammy Ochoa, Andy Rose, Eriq Zavaleta and Dylan Remick.
Also unavailable for Seattle will be recent U.S. national team call-ups Eddie Johnson and Brad Evans.
Even beyond the absences, Schmid conceded his lineup might not be at full strength — which isn't uncommon for MLS teams at this stage in the tournament — but stressed that the Sounders are wary of what will be a "highly motivated" opponent.
"For our guys, it's also a great opportunity, because there are going to be some guys on the field who haven't gotten a lot of playing time recently," the coach said. "It's a chance for them to show in a meaningful competition and a meaningful game that they're somebody that wants to be back into that mix."
The Sounders had credited a three-game trip earlier in the season for helping turn around a last-place start in the Western Conference. They hope another three-game trip — this time with back-to-back cross-country flights — will get the team back to winning ways enjoyed before the debacle in L.A.
"Maybe it's good that we are on the road now and we have to be together," said goalkeeper Michael Gspurning. "If there is a good timing, maybe it's now, because we have to stay together and we have to figure it out."
• Live audio and video of the action from Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, Fla., will be available on SoundersFC.comwith broadcaster Ross Fletcher on the call.
• The Sounders would host the winner of Wednesday's game between the Portland Timbers and the USL PRO's Wilmington Hammerheads in the fourth round on June 12.
• Midfielder Osvaldo Alonso and Patrick Ianni are ineligible for Wednesday's game after receiving red cards in the 2012 final, which Seattle lost to Sporting Kansas City after a penalty-kick shootout. Alonso, who is recovering from a groin injury, was unlikely to play anyway, but Schmid said Ianni could have used the minutes as he works his way back from a broken foot suffered in preseason.
• In a pair of local connections, Rowdies defender Daniel Scott is the younger brother of Sounders FC defender Zach Scott. The two played against each other in the 2011 Open Cup, when Daniel played for the Kitsap Pumas. Tampa Bay midfielder Raphael Cox is a Tacoma native and University of Washington product.
• Jordan Morris of the Sounders FC academy played 19 minutes for the U.S. under-20 national team Tuesday in a 4-1 loss to host France in a youth tournament abroad.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @joshuamayers.