Roger Levesque finds himself in familiar territory preparing for the US Open Cup semifinal.
When the Sounders meet Chivas USA on Wednesday at Starfire, it will mark the sixth straight year that the Sounders FC utility man has earned a berth in the semifinal. That includes appearances with the USL side in 2007 and 2008, where Seattle lost to FC Dallas and the Charleston Battery, respectively.
At that time, the lower division club took pride in their ability to knock teams from the top flight off in the tournament.
Levesque played roles in Seattle’s Open Cup matches earlier in his career, but he really took a prominent role once the USL Sounders started playing the giant-killers role in 2007.
Then he had a goal and three assists in four Open Cup matches, including a goal and two assists in a 3-1 win over Chivas USA in the third round. That led to a quarterfinal meeting with the Colorado Rapids at CenturyLink Field, where the Sounders demolished a Rapids team that played most of their regular starters. They were stunned, walking out of Seattle with a 5-0 defeat at the hands of a lower division opponent.
However, Seattle would fall to FC Dallas 2-1 in extra time in the semifinal, ending their run with two wins over MLS clubs.
2008 was no different. Seattle again bested Chivas USA, then got a shootout victory over Kansas City. The semifinal would see them travel across the country and again the match would go to a shootout, where the Sounders run ended as the Charleston Battery advanced to the final.
“I think it was the opportunity to play the top teams in the country – to play MLS teams. A lot of guys on that USL Sounders team had opportunities in the MLS and for whatever reason we all ended up in Seattle,” Levesque said. “The camaraderie was really strong and we fed off of each other. That energy that we put into the Open Cup became a sense of pride for our team and for our group.”
Levesque was limited in the Open Cup in 2008 due to injuries, but picked up right where he left off in 2007 during the Sounders FC’s inaugural run in the Open Cup.
In two qualifying round matches in 2009, he combined for four assists in 180 minutes. He scored a dramatic opening goal in a 2-1 win over the Portland Timbers in the third round and played key minutes in a quarterfinal win over Kansas City and overtime win over Houston in the semifinals.
Then Levesque tallied the game-winning goal in a 2-1 victory over DC United in the final, taking home the first of three Open Cup titles.
He appeared in all four matches in the 2010 Open Cup championship run and made two appearances as the Sounders won their third straight cup in 2011.
Now on a quest for their fourth straight Open Cup crown, Levesque and the Sounders motored through the Atlanta Silverbacks and Cal FC before enduring a rough-and-tumble battle with the San Jose Earthquakes to reach the semifinal against Chivas USA. With those experiences behind them, they have shown their drive to make history with their fourth straight title.
“It’s going to be a battle. You saw it at Kezar and Starfire plays the same way. The fans will be all amped up about it, excited about a semifinal and the possibility of playing in another final,” Levesque said. “The fourth Open Cup is looming, but we’re focusing on the task at hand and that’s something this team always does a great job of.”
Kickoff is slated for 7 pm from Starfire, with a web stream of the match on SoundersFC.com. The radio broadcast can also be heard on 97.3 KIRO FM.