Posted by: Matt Gaschk
Sounders FC is looking for their fourth-straight US Open Cup title while host Sporting Kansas City is vying for their first trophy since 2004.
It all comes down to this.
One team trying to make history. The other trying to end it.
Two of the best teams in MLS over the past two seasons square off Wednesday night in the US Open Cup final at 6 pm Pacific at Livestrong Sporting Park, with the Sounders FC is looking for their fourth straight US Open Cup title while host Sporting Kansas City is vying for their first trophy since 2004.
"It's one game," Sounders FC midfielder and captain Mauro Rosales said. "There's no tomorrow."
It will be Seattle's biggest test in their four-year run of dominance in the Open Cup tournament.
This season, Sporting Kansas City is 12-7-4, sharing the top spot in the Eastern Conference at 40 points with the Houston Dynamo.
They reached the Open Cup final with wins over two MLS clubs and two USL Pro teams.
They opened the tournament with a 3-2 win over Orlando City SC at Livestrong Sporting Park and followed that up with a 2-0 win over the Colorado Rapids and a 3-0 win over the Dayton Dutch Lions. They played their first road match of the tournament in the semifinal, topping the Philadelphia Union 2-0 at PPL Park.
Graham Zusi, Soony Saad and CJ Sapong all had two goals and one assist in the tournament to lead the team.
"Kansas City's a tough team to beat," Rosales said. "When you play the final, it's always going to be a hard game."
KC started the season with seven straight wins but are just 5-7-4 since.
Part of that change was because they had to do some lineup shuffling because of injuries and suspensions. They will have to do that on Wednesday as well.
Midfielder Roger Espinoza is expected back in the lineup for Kansas City after returning from a run to the quarterfinals in the Olympics with Honduras, where he teamed with newly acquired Sounders FC midfielder Mario Martinez. Espinoza has been a key performer for KC this season. They are just 1-2-3 without him in the lineup, earning their first win without him on the roster on Saturday in a 1-0 victory over the New England Revolution.
While Espinoza may be back, Kansas City will definitely be without defender Aurelien Collin due to suspension for yellow card accumulation and could be without defender Chance Myers (groin strain) and forwards Jacob Peterson (shoulder sprain) and CJ Sapong (hip flexor strain), all of whom were out of action in Saturday's win over New England, and midfielder Bobby Convey, who left the match in the 7th minute with a hamstring strain.
Like Kansas City, Seattle had struggles this season, too.
Through nine matches, they had the best record in the Western Conference, but then a nine-match winless streak dropped them to 7-5-6 on the season, but three Open Cup victories in between kept morale high during that time.
"When we were struggling in league play, the Open Cup is what kept us going," Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. "We kept winning games in the Open Cup, so it didn't feel like we were on that much of a streak."
Now unbeaten in their last six MLS matches at 3-0-3, the Sounders have also won two matches in the Open Cup and another in the CONCACAF Champions League since suffering their last loss.
"We are getting our form that we lost a month ago," Rosales said. "We found a way how to play and the character is there."
The match will be televised nationally on GOL TV, with a local radio broadcast on 97.3 KIRO FM.