Sounders and Timbers vie for opportunity to host U.S. Open Cup semifinal

Sounders FC vs. Portland Timbers

Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinal
Wednesday, July 9; 7:30 pm PT; Starfire Sports Stadium; Tukwila, Wash.
Webstream: SoundersFC.com

On the surface, there is a drastic difference between Sounders FC’s two matches this week against the Portland Timbers. On Wednesday, the Cascadia rivals will meet in front of a crowd of fewer than 5,000 fans at Starfire Stadium in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, while Sunday’s match will have over ten times that in attendance for a nationally televised regular season match at CenturyLink Field.

However, to Sigi Schmid and Sounders FC, there is only one way to approach both affairs, especially after falling 1-0 to their other Cascadian rivals on Saturday against Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

“I think the guys know what’s at stake on Wednesday,” Schmid said. “I think deep down, they know it’s Portland. They know it’s the Open Cup. They know it’s a big league match. We’re disappointed in our result last Saturday and we have to get after it again.”

Wednesday’s Open Cup matchup will be the third time Seattle and Portland have met in the tournament since Seattle moved to MLS in 2009, but it is also the first time since the Timbers joined MLS in 2011, as well as the first meeting at Starfire. Sounders FC won, 2-1, the first time around in 2009 and then in a shootout after a 1-1 draw in 2010.

Both matches were fiercely competitive and nothing less can be expected at Starfire on Wednesday, particularly when the first 2014 meeting between the two clubs is considered. Back on April 5, Clint Dempsey scored a hat trick to lead Seattle to come from behind for a 4-4 draw at Providence Park in Portland.

“We’re all really looking forward to it,” said Seattle defender Zach Scott, who scored the decisive penalty in the 2010 shootout. “Portland games are always really intense so getting to have two of them in a week is that much better. It’s very easy to get up for these games.”

There are several factors in play this week, too.

After recording the best regular season record in the Western Conference in 2013, Portland went just 4-5-9 through the first 18 matches of the 2014 season. Seattle, meanwhile has raced to the front of the Supporters’ Shield race at 11-4-2 despite losing several key players for stretches due to injuries, suspensions and international duty.

Seattle will be easing several of those players into these two matches and with so much at stake in the tournament and in the league match, the rivalry just adds to the intensity.

“When you have two teams that are as competitive as our two teams and the rivalry that exists in the Cascadia Cup, playing two games this close together, it’s going to be intense for both teams,” Schmid said. “Entering a competition, we want to win it. So the Open Cup is important to us and certainly the league match is important to us. They’re equally important. We’re going to try and win the game on Wednesday and then we’ll focus on winning the game on Sunday.”

Kickoff for Wednesday’s match is scheduled for 7:30 pm PT from Starfire. There will be a live webstream of the match on SoundersFC.com.

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