California Dreamin'

The Sounders FC looks to advance to the US Open Cup semifinals as they face the San Jose Earthquakes on Tuesday in San Francisco.

The Sounders are scuffling right now.  Winless in their last seven MLS matches, they will look to break out of that slump with their US Open Cup quarterfinal match with the San Jose Earthquakes on Tuesday night at San Francisco’s Kezar Stadium.

While it won’t do anything to stop their skid in league play, at this point, they will take a win of any kind to break their slump.

“We just want to win in general at this point,” defender Patrick Ianni said.

“For whatever reason we’re not firing at the moment, we’re not playing great soccer in the MLS,” midfielder Andy Rose said.  “Hopefully it will help us snap out of this funk we’re in and get back to playing good soccer.”

Amidst their streak that has seen them go just 0-4-3 in MLS play, the Sounders have earned two Open Cup wins, topping the Atlanta Silverbacks of the NASL and Cal FC of the USASA.  That extends their unbeaten run in the Open Cup to 16 matches after they became the first team in MLS history to win the tournament three years in a row.
In that time, they have juggled lineups to field the best team possible for the mid-week tournament games while also staying competitive in league play.  However, they’ve never had the challenge they’re about to face – two games in three days.

“Obviously it’s a tournament we’ve done well in the past three years,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said.  “This is probably our most difficult challenge, having to come back and play on just one day’s rest against a team that has two days of rest.  It is what it is.  It’s a challenge we have to accept and we have to rise up to it.”

Adding to the challenge is the team on the other side of the field.

The Earthquakes were the only team to beat the Sounders in their nine-game stretch to start the season that saw Seattle go 7-1-1 in the best start in franchise history.  At 10-3-3 they have the best record in the league and have the league’s top goal-scorer in Chris Wondolowski, who has 13 goals in16 league matches.

Add in the five goals each from Steven Lenhart and Alan Gordon and the midfield threats of Tressor Moreno, Marvin Chavez and Khari Stephenson and it’s no wonder the Earthquakes sit atop the MLS standings.

“They’ve built a team over a few years now, and I think they found the right chemistry and the right mix, and they’ve got good depth,” Schmid said.  “They’ve got Wondolowski, but then you could either bring Lenhart or Gordon up front.  There’s all kinds of different pieces they can bring.  It’s definitely, as they’ve shown in their league play, a team that’s much improved.”

Kickoff is set for 7:30 pm Pacific with an audio feed on SoundersFC.com and on 97.3 KIRO FM.

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