Since 2007, Seattle has had a representative in the semifinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup every year except one.
Prior to joining MLS in 2009 and winning three straight Open Cup trophies and reaching a fourth final in 2012, Seattle made two semifinal appearances with the USL’s Sounders in 2007 and 2008.
Having that USL success intact before the MLS team helped nurture the winning culture established early by Sounders FC. That run of six straight semifinal appearances came to an end last year, but now Sounders FC is back in the penultimate game in the longest-running competitive American tournament with Wednesday’s meeting with the Chicago Fire at Starfire Stadium.
“When we enter something we are going to enter it to try and do well,” Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid said. “We were disappointed last year getting knocked out early and in the past years we’ve always done really well. It’s a matter of us doing the same thing this year.”
In 2007, the Sounders – then led by current Sounders FC Head Assistant Coach Brian Schmetzer – topped MLS clubs Chivas USA 3-1 and the Colorado Rapids 5-1 on the way to the semis. There, FC Dallas needed extra time to finally eliminate the feisty USL club.
The following year, Seattle again got the better of Chivas USA, this time by a 2-0 score, and earned a shootout victory over the Kansas City Wizards to reach the semifinal. There the Sounders met another USL club, the Charleston Battery, and fell in a shootout after playing to a 1-1 draw over 120 minutes. That Charleston team, incidentally, featured current Sounders FC midfielder Osvaldo Alonso.
Since coming to MLS, that success has continued as Sounders FC has dominated both at Starfire and on the road. At the Tukwila stadium, the Sounders have gone 14-0-1 in U.S. Open Cup play, while also posting two wins at CenturyLink Field in the 2010 and 2011 finals, as well as a 3-1-2 record in road matches.
“The approach isn’t any different. You put the best team on the field you can,” Schmid said. “You’ve got to look at people’s physical situation and rotations that make sense to you and try to get the best team on the field to win the game. You’ve also got to have options off the bench that you can go to in case it turns into a 120-minute game.”
A big part of the club’s success has come from that approach and has led to three appearances in CONCACAF Champions League. Those international tournament appearances reached a pinnacle when Seattle became the first MLS club to eliminate a Liga MX opponent in CONCACAF Champions League with its victory over Tigres in 2013.
Kickoff in Wednesday’s match is scheduled for 7:30 pm PT from Starfire Stadium. The match can be streamed live on SoundersFC.com.