Sounders FC vs. PSA Elite
Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup 4th Round
Wednesday, 7 pm PT; Starfire Sports Stadium; Tukwila, Wash.
Sounders FC is among the biggest club teams in the U.S., so the prospect of meeting an amateur team offers a bit of romance in the U.S. Open Cup. However, Seattle is out to ensure that the storybook run for PSA Elite ends on Wednesday at Starfire Sports Stadium in the fourth round of the tournament.
"Those are dangerous games. They're going to be a team that's going to be really motivated. For them this is the game of their lives," Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said. "One of the things we try to convey to our team all the time is we try to prepare the same for every opponent. I think you respect everyone you play."
Seattle is in an interesting position in this year's Open Cup. After winning the first three tournaments it entered from 2009-2011 and reaching the final in 2012, Sounders FC was ousted by the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the first Open Cup match Seattle played last year. Now readying to get back on a winning run, Seattle prepares to face a USASA club that features many college players, as well as some that just finished their collegiate careers and are looking to impress enough to garner invitations to sign with professional clubs.
The opportunity to play against an MLS club is a golden opportunity for those players, but there are players throughout the Sounders FC roster that have been on the other side of that equation. Zach Scott, Lamar Neagle and Micheal Azira all rose through the USL ranks to MLS and had opportunities in the Open Cup. Meanwhile, Marcus Hahnemann had the same chance while playing for First Division and Championship club Reading in England during the FA Cup.
"You're excited to be there and you're buzzing and it's 100 miles an hour and you're trying to get a result. That's what they're going to come here to do," Hahnemann said. "We're going to have our fans behind us and that's going to help and get us fired up. When you have all those fans behind you, you get pumped up. There's nothing you can do but give 100-percent."
One thing Seattle will have in its favor is the confines of Starfire. The 4,500-seat stadium may be small in capacity, but it is large in personality, creating a unique atmosphere that has brought out the best in Sounders FC. The MLS club has gone 13-0-0 in Open Cup matches at the venue adjacent to the club's practice facility.
"It's a closer setting. It's more intimate. It's not 40,000, but it feels like there's a ton of people. It'll be a great atmosphere," Neagle said. "I loved playing in those games when I wasn't starting as many in the MLS. I know I'll be up for it still because I love playing at Starfire. It's amazing. The atmosphere is great. We won't take it lightly, that's for sure. This is one tournament that Seattle has done well in in our history. We definitely want to get our title back."
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 pm PT and while the match is sold out, there will be a live video stream on SoundersFC.com. The winner will advance to face the San Jose Earthquakes in the fifth round after San Jose bested Sacramento Republic 2-1.