The Seattle Sounders return to action on Wednesday night in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious club soccer tournament. The Sounders are on the road at the LA Galaxy with a spot in the semifinals on the line.
WHEN AND WHERE: Kickoff is Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. PT at StubHub Center’s Track Stadium in Carson, Calif.
WHERE TO WATCH: Although the game will not be televised, a live stream will be available on SoundersFC.com.
WHERE TO LISTEN: The game will be aired on El Rey 1360AM in Spanish.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: The Sounders pulled a bit of an upset in the Round of 16 on June 28, topping Real Salt Lake in penalty kicks on the road at Rio Tinto Stadium. Rookie goalkeeper Tyler Miller was the star of the show with a number of standout plays in regulation and two saves in the penalty shootout, and Nelson Valdez picked up his first goal in any competition this season in regulation. The Galaxy won 1-0 at Portland on the back of a first-half goal from Raul Mendiola.
ALL-TIME HISTORY: The Sounders and Galaxy have a lengthy and contentious history in MLS regular season and postseason play, but their USOC backstory is short. They’ve met only once in the tournament, when the Sounders beat LA 3-1 in the 2011 quarterfinals en route to winning the tournament title. The Galaxy beat the Sounders 1-0 in regular season play on July 9 despite allowing 22 shots, a high for the Sounders this season.
CHANGE OF VENUE: If you notice something about this game different from all the other times the Sounders have visited LA, it’s for good reason. The CrossFit Games will begin at StubHub Center on Tuesday, pushing this game out of the main stadium and into the track stadium, home to the LA Galaxy II USL team. The venue has 2,000 permanent seats and is expandable to accommodate 20,000 fans for soccer matches or major competition, but there’s been no indication yet how much the stadium will be expanded for this match.
ROAD WARRIORS: The Sounders have consistently thrived over the years in the USOC, largely because of a home field advantage at Starfire Stadium few teams can match. They’ve been almost as good on the road, surprisingly, boasting a 6-2 record away from Seattle, including wins in Washington, D.C. (2009) and Philadelphia (2014) to capture the USOC crown.
SHORT REST: The Sounders will train just twice this week in Seattle before departing for LA on Tuesday afternoon. There’s been little rest for the club of late – Wednesday’s game is already the fifth game in 15 days for the club across all competitions – and they’re coming off a 3-1 loss to the Portland Timbers on Sunday. The Galaxy should have a bit more in the tank after beating the Houston Dynamo at home on Friday.
LINEUP QUESTIONS: The early rounds of USOC always pose a challenge for MLS squads looking to balance the rigors of the tournament and the ongoing regular season. Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid has been here many times before and recently said he expects to approach this USOC with a similar approach to years past, which means a mix of established starters and second-tier players, similar to the lineup against RSL last month.
YOUNG AND RESTLESS: The USOC often gives young players the opportunity to pick up valuable competitive minutes and strut their stuff, and this year has been no exception for the Sounders. Expect to see Miller, center back Tony Alfaro, winger Oalex Anderson and midfielder Cristian Roldan all take the field in some capacity while some veterans rest ahead of huge regular season road match at Kansas City on Sunday.
HERE COMES OZZIE: After picking up his fifth yellow card of the season on Sunday, midfielder Osvaldo Alonso will be forced to sit out the team’s match at SKC on Sunday. That means he should be an option to play against the Galaxy midweek, giving the club some much-needed veteran presence in the middle of the field.
TURNAROUND TIME: The Sounders are quickly running out of time to turn the MLS season around after the loss to Portland over the weekend, but the USOC has traditionally been something of a catalyst for clubs needing a jumpstart. If the Sounders can top LA on Wednesday, they’ll move on to the USOC semifinals for the sixth time in franchise history, two steps away from winning an unprecedented fifth tournament title. Will that be enough to turn the tide for the Sounders in MLS play as well?