Sounders could face rough game against San Jose
Rugged forwards Steven Lenhart and Alan Gordon will force Seattle to adjust lineup in Tuesday night’s U.S. Open Cup match.
Seattle Times staff reporter
U.S. Open Cup: San Jose @ Sounders FC, 7:30 p.m., Starfire Stadium, Tukwila
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TUKWILA — Here come the Bruise Brothers.
That is how Sounders FC coach Sigi Schmid put it, at least, referring to San Jose’s imposing forwards Steven Lenhart and Alan Gordon ahead of Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup matchup, a fifth-round game that kicks off at 7:30 p.m.
The visiting Earthquakes, whose colors are perhaps appropriately black and blue, aren’t the only indicator of a physical affair. The tiny dimensions at Starfire Stadium, quick conditions of a worn-down artificial turf and win-or-go-home nature of the knockout tournament also increase the likelihood of a collision-heavy contest.
“It is going to be a ‘smash-smash’ game,” Schmid said.
For San Jose, a lot of that style starts with Lenhart (6 feet 1, 190 pounds) and Gordon (6-3, 190), a brutish duo known to get in a tangle or two up front. Expect to see the Sounders react appropriately in their lineup selection, particularly on defense.
“For us, you’ll see a lot of big bodies out there,” said captain Brad Evans.
When it comes to results, Seattle has actually been more of a bully — both this season and in its history in the tournament. The Sounders sit comfortably in first place in MLS coming out of the league’s World Cup break and are seeking a fourth Open Cup trophy in six years, coming off a 5-0 rout of amateur team PSA Elite in the previous round.
San Jose, on the other hand, is second-to-last in the Western Conference, better only than lowly Chivas USA, and might also be rusty, having been inactive since June 11.
“The Open Cup has probably taken on additional meaning because they haven’t done as well in the MLS season as they would’ve liked,” Schmid said. “For them, this is something that becomes important. They’re on level ground here. They’re not in first place or last place, and it’s an opportunity to win a trophy.”
The Sounders will have a notable fan in the stands Tuesday: Fredy Montero, the franchise’s all-time leading scorer who helped the team win its three Open Cups in 2009-11.
Montero, visiting over the offseason of his current team, Portugal’s Sporting Lisbon, still has family in this area and said after Monday’s practice that he still considers Seattle his second home.
When asked if he will ever come back to play for the team again, the 26-year-old said, “I hope so. That’s one of my dreams now: I hope to be back playing for the Sounders.”
• At last update Monday, the Sounders had a limited number of tickets available. There must be a winner, so a 30-minute overtime will be played if there is a tie, followed by a penalty-kick shootout, if necessary.
• The winner of the Seattle-San Jose Open Cup will host either Portland or Sporting Kansas City in the quarterfinals.
• The Sounders’ MLS home game July 26 against the Los Angeles Galaxy has been moved to July 28, a Monday, to accommodate “citywide events” and the ESPN2 broadcast, according to a news release. The Seafair Torchlight Parade is also scheduled for the downtown area on July 26.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184