Three Things to Watch: vs Chicago Fire

Sounders FC vs. Chicago Fire

Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Semifinal
Wednesday, August 13; 7:30 pm PT; Starfire Sports Stadium; Tukwila, Wash.
Webstream: SoundersFC.com

Sounders FC will meet the Chicago Fire in the semifinal of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday night at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila, Wash. Here are three things to know heading into the match.

FAMILIAR FACES, DIFFERENT JERSEYS

Both teams feature several players who have donned the opponent’s jerseys at one point in their careers. However, there are three players that suited up on opposite benches when Sounders FC met the Chicago Fire in the final of the 2011 U.S. Open Cup. Sounders FC midfielder Marco Pappa started for the Fire in that match while Jalil Anibaba appeared as a second-half substitute. Meanwhile, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado helped shut out the Fire in 2011, starting on Seattle’s back line and now is a fixture of the Chicago defense.

In addition, Chicago features former Sounders defender Patrick Ianni and midfielder Sanna Nyassi, who famously netted both goals in a 2-1 win over the Columbus Crew in the 2010 Open Cup final. Seattle forward Chad Barrett started his professional career with the Fire, where he won the 2006 Open Cup title.

STARFIRE SPECIAL

Sounders FC is 14-0-1 at Starfire Stadium in the U.S. Open Cup and there are several factors that have played in to that success. It is a compact field that plays small, so runs need to be quick and decisive. It also makes for plenty of aerial duels and with a burly group of players available, it could be a key factor for Seattle against Chicago. Another unique element is the proximity of the fans, who stack up virtually on top of the field in the close quarters of Starfire, where the Sounders called home in the USL for some of the 2005 and 2006 seasons, as well as the whole 2008 season. It may hold fewer than 5,000 fans, but their numbers are amplified by the close confines.

CHAMPIONSHIP CLUBS

Sounders FC and the Chicago Fire have both filled their trophy cases with Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cups. Chicago leads all MLS clubs with four tournament titles, while Seattle is tied for second with three, winning them consecutively from 2009-2011. Sounders FC will look to equal Chicago’s total, but first has to get through the Fire to get to the championship match. They are clubs with winning traditions, particularly in this tournament, and that’s not a fact that will be glossed over by either coach when they prepare their respective teams for Wednesday’s clash.

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